Published: Nov 21, 2011
Review: Festool WCR1000 Workcenter
A surprisingly valuable addition
$375 from Amazon
The WCR1000 Workcenter was provided by Festool USA for this review
Quite frankly, I was underwhelmed when I first saw the Workcenter in one of Festool USA's ads, I think it might have been Sysnotes. Designed to attach to the top of a Festool dust extractor, it seemed like a nice idea but nothing that made me think "Wow, that's cool, I gotta get me one of those!"
But when Rick Bush of Festool USA offered to let me try one out, of course I said yes. I mean, who turns down a chance to play with a tool for free? But, honestly, I was fully prepared to not like it very much. I try to go into a review with a completely open mind, but I admit I figured the review would boil down to "cute idea, but not worth the money."
After working with the WCR1000 Workcenter for six months, I have to say that the Workcenter has won me over completely. It wasn't an instant love like the TS55 tracksaw or the RO90 sander, but a slow realization that it was an incredibly handy accessory that changes the CT26 into a mobile workstation. The thing I didn't particularly want has become the thing I'd buy immediately if Festool asked for it back.
The WCR1000 arrives in a compact single box.
Opening the top reveals this little placard, which is what I presume dealers stick onto floor models. Hey, it amused me ...
Assembly was very simple, although "assemble" vastly overstates the process.
The Workcenter comes largely assembled. In fact, the hardest part is that you actually have to partially disassemble it to attach the rotating rear shelf, which Festool strangely calls a plateau.
I guess when you've laid out $375, "shelf" is just too pedestrian a term.
The WCR1000 attaches to the top of the dust exractor just like a Systainer. Slide the base onto the two fixed tabs, then push in the two green sliding locks. The Workcenter is compatible with all Festool dust extractors except the Mini and Midi models.
The base is shaped such that Systainers can nestle on top. They cannot, however, actually attach to the Workcenter. Theoretically, this allows the Systainers to topple off.
On the other hand, you can't get that many Systainers under the top of the Workcenter and you could always drop the top section down to "clamp" them in place during transport.
One thing I like about the base is that it creates a flat surface on top of CT26 that works much better for setting down tools like the track saw.
That's one thing I never liked about the top of the CT26. While it was handy for storing the hose during transport, trying to set down a tool on/around the handle was clumsy and smaller stuff would fall in and disappear. The Workcenter base makes that area much more usable and you still retain the ability to store the hose under the Workcenter.
It would also be extremely easy to build your own accessories like tool trays, parts drawers, and other special items that fit right into this area. In fact, I'm working on a little project I've been calling the DusTainer designed just for this spot ...
One of my first impressions of the Workcenter, even before I opened the box, was how lightweight it is. Which had me concerned about it's sturdiness, I figured that something so lightweight would be a little flimsy. Not to worry, the Workcenter is actually quite sturdy. I'd guess I've had 50-75 pounds of tools and stuff hanging off of it at times and I've had no issues whatsoever, everything has been rock-solid durable.
One concern I had was how stable the Workcenter would be once I had it loaded up with tools. What I found is that the CT26 is surprisingly stable even with a considerable amount of weight up top. Even though I've bumped into it quite had a few times, it's never even come close to tipping over. I don't recommend trying to transport it all loaded up, but I doubt anyone would do that anyway.
I think the Workcenter's greatest strength might also be its greatest weakness, at least in terms of marketing it. It's really difficult to define exactly what the Workcenter does.
It's not really designed to do any defined task, but its flexibility lets it do whatever you need it to do. I've found the top tray to be handy spot to keep a tube and brush from the cleaning kit and the LS130 linear sander fits perfectly, although I'm pretty sure Festool never intended it for that. You can adjust the end hooks up/down and the plateau can fit either end. The V-shaped end hooks seem to be designed for holding sanders, but I've seen people use them as drill hangers or even flip them upside-down for other uses. I have no idea what the slots on the side of the plateau were originally designed for, but I find it's a handy spot to hang the rail from my MFT/3. The side shelf has turned out to be extremely handy and the hooks can be rearranged to your liking. You could even get rid of one or the other, e.g. if you want multiple shelves instead of hooks, just get the parts you want and rearrange!
Trust me, rearranging is something you'll do a lot of when you first start working with the Workcenter, as you come to appreciate it's flexibility.
While it's quite nifty, I do have a few quibbles with the design of the WCR1000. I wish it was just a bit taller, maybe 6-12 inches. Also, I would like it if the plateau was able to go all the way up and down, as it is it can only travel half the height of the column. Finally, I'm a bit put-out on Festool's choice of using Allen-head screws to secure the front and back hooks. While they do provide the correct size with the Workcenter, it's one more tool I have to keep track of. Normal Phillips-head or combo-head screws would be much handier for on-the-job adjustments.
Admittedly, the WRC1000 Workcenter isn't for everyone. If your dust extractor stays in one spot because you do all your work in a single place or you have a very small workshop, it wouldn't pay as many dividends as, say, a boom arm. And at first glance, it's a bit pricey and it doesn't appear to give much value. But if you work in a lot of different spots in the shop or go mobile at all, it soon proves itself as a very valuable addition to your CT dust extractor.