Recently I had a chance to try out a Centipede Sawhorse, a portable work station featuring a unique collapsible steel frame. At first glance, the Centipede looks like it’s complicated, with a lot of moving parts, but it took only a few seconds to set up, with no assembly required. When it was time to pack up, the model I tested folded back down into a compact 6-inch by 9-inch package, making it convenient to move from job to job. It has built-in clamps for holding material and is deceptively strong, with a load capacity of about 1,500 pounds for the standard 2-foot by 4-foot Sawhorse model. It also comes in a larger, 4-foot by 8-foot version, called the Support XL, which has a 3,000-pound capacity.
One feature of the Centipede that I really liked is that it can be fitted with a plywood top to create a large, stable work surface. If you want to use the system as a sawhorse, the clamps can be swapped out for plastic X-Cups that accommodate 2x4 stock. The system is versatile, but I found that the flexible multi-leg design made it trickier to set up on uneven terrain than a standard set of horses. For example, I typically use sawhorses when cutting stair jacks, and making them using the Centipede was no easier than using regular sawhorses.
However, for different applications, such as making rips and jigsaw cuts and cutting plywood and other sheet goods, the Centipede was much more practical, especially when working off a level surface. It definitely made it easier to do jobs that would ordinarily require two men or a lot of set-up time. At $50 for the Sawhorse model and $100 for the XL model, the Centipede is a great portable work station, though not necessarily a replacement for standard sawhorses.
Jason Katwijk is a deck builder in Olympia, Wash.