In the Shop: Centipede instant work supports
Piled high with the typical detritus of a construction site, the smaller 2 x 4-foot Centipede support will actually hold up to 1,500 pounds. The larger 4 x 8 unit supports 3,000 pounds. Both setup and take down in seconds.

It seems like you always need another work surface. Whether it’s in the shop, and the workbenches are all taken up, or on the job site with no workbench in site, it’s handy to be able to set up an instant temporary work table. In the past, that’s typically meant looking for or banging together some saw horses and throwing a piece of plywood across them. Now I just reach for a Centipede.

What’s a Centipede?

It’s an ingenious table support made somewhat like those popular collapsing canvas and aluminum tube chairs people bring to outdoor events. But unlike those chairs that are notorious for collapsing at the wrong moment, the Centipede uses spring steel support braces with the lightweight tubes, making each table incredibly strong. In fact, the larger Centipede will support an entire 4 x 8 sheet of plywood and up to 3,000 pounds of weight. The smaller 2 x 4-foot unit is no slouch either, supporting up to 1,500 pounds.

But does it work?

I’ve been using both size Centipedes on my house construction site for several months. They set up and take down in seconds and support whatever I put on top of them. I’ve piled them high with the typical detritus of a building project, used them as workbenches for sawing and fastening, and even stood on them. When we were putting up exterior sheathing, we used them at one point for staging to lift panels in place.

Making them even more versatile, there are a number of accessories available. There are plastic hold-down clamps to secure plywood to the top. There are plastic fixtures that make putting a 2x4 across the top safe and secure. There are rubber-faced no-slip pads to help hold sheets in place on the top of the Centipede.

And when you’re done, the whole thing packs up in seconds into a compact canvas case until the next adventure. The only negative is the crisscross superstructure of these supports doesn’t allow for easy storage space underneath them once set up. But that’s a small price to pay for such sturdy table supports.

Centipedes are now widely available at home centers and online retailers or get more information at


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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.