Mac Allister Folding Workstation

Discussion in 'Tool Talk' started by ajohn, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. ajohn

    ajohn Screwfix Select

    I bought one of these recently as I wanted something with a bigger top than my ancient Do It All workmate but still not weighing much. Screwfix said I could return it if I didn't like it. Mostly worried about how stable it was.

    First problem was that the 4 legs wouldn't all sit on a level floor. Thought take it back but as they probably cut the metal tubes all to the same length stood it upside down, measured the leg length to the plastic that holds them and found 2 were longer. Couple of smacks of those with the side of a hammer fixed that. Maybe the caps weren't fully on.

    Initially it would wobble fairly easily and then I found the the fold up part on the lower table needs a decent thump to get it to latch in place. That stiffened it up but still not as stable as my old workmate and worse than a more modern £20 one that I use to support long lengths on the old one. ;) Think it will be ok though, even hand sawing providing the saw does most of the work. Not sure about routing etc pushing against a jig etc, probably ok. Freehand circular saw - have my doubts, with a track shouldn't matter.

    It can be used with G clamps holding things down but the screw end needs to be down - ok but also in one of the pockets on the underside. They are maybe 50mm deep. Probably break it if on one of the ribs or the edge. Makes me think the designers have lost the plot. They must think that people who use workmates only use the dogs and the handles to hold things. More often than not I find I clamp stuff to it. They have also added some "holes" to the top that as far as I can see serve no purpose other than to make clamping more difficult. Ideally a flat top full of holes and slots in the usually workmate materials would be far better and things could still be clamped on the sides. Just needs a different type of clamp. The ones that fit in the T slots stick up too much for that sort of use really anyway and would be no good for holding laths to keep the saw clear of the table and to support 8x4 sheets when when cutting them up.

    Other thing is height. My old workmate is 80cm as it should be. Newer one lower, this item even lower. It would need to be a bit bigger to be 80cm high. Not that much bigger though.

    Storage wise on end it takes up no more space than a workmate.

    :DSo far I'm keeping it. Wonder how people are getting on with the variants. They all seem to have catches. Stanley came up with a good one - buy their rather expensive clamps. G clamps could probably be used but then I saw a review where one broke.

  2. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    And it has a 180kg loading capacity,& I take that figure with a pinch of salt.

    Prefer my TOUGHBUILT TOU-C700 trestles, a sheet of ply & bench hold downs.
  3. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    I have four of them - two keter originals and two rebadged. They're not perfect but so much better than a workmate.
    They take about five seconds to put up and fewer to take down again, they have a lower shelf for tools and materials, the work surface is possibly three times that of a workmate, they fold flat and can be stacked (try doing that with a workmate) and they slide into the van either flat or upright allowing easy stacking on top or around (try doing that with a workmate), they're rain tolerant, rated at 450kg (later ones downgraded) and at least £20 cheaper than a workmate when I bought mine.
    I imagine a tall person might find them too low (but I'm not) and it depends what you're working on anyway. The clamps that slide into the t-track are counter intuitive if you're used to Irwin quick clamps but you work with what you've got.
    Several of my clients who have seen me using mine have gone out and bought one despite already having a workmate.
    One of my workmates has had three sets of replacement jaws it's had that much use but for travelling work I prefer the plastic benches.
    I use a plastic one when grooming the dogs - try doing that with a workmate!
  4. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    Easy, at least you can clamp dog's leg or tail to stop it running off.:eek:
  5. goldenboy

    goldenboy Super Member

    I have a Keter and have had it for years

    Great quick "centre of operations" bench.

    As Willy says. Flat and stores well.

    Also like the storage shelf and the space under that too.

    Perfect for piling all the kit under on a "friendly" location. Dust sheet over it hides it all away.

    Clamps are poundshop tat tho
  6. ajohn

    ajohn Screwfix Select

    I think they will easily take the weight Screwfix state. :DUSA same thing, different name well everything is bigger there so capacity has to be. An american bought some levi's over for me and even those where bigger than same size in the UK.

    ;) The height thing just bugs me really a few cm's lower than I reckon they should be isn't a problem. Oddly the simple Toughbuilds are also low, about the same actually. I'm over 6ft so just about everything is too low really.

    The main thing I don't like is what I mentioned. A review for instance seems to assume all people will do is chop up 2x4 with it. Another paint things and sand with the clamps getting in the way. DIY'r get up to all sorts with workmates so the main problem with all of them is clamping in various ways. ;) The way it opens and closes is the best thing about it and rigidity considering what it's made of. If I push or twist it moves by about 10mm. probably less.

    Toughbuild is another solution. Not adjustable legs for me though. Just more irritation setting up and more weight. That leaves ones with the end clamps and the ones without. I suspect I could easily modify the ones without the end clamps to take a worktable. I'd probably just drill holes in the top and use bolts and thumb screws. Stiffening can be part of the table.

    LOL I wondered about dog grooming. Asked our German Shepherd to jump on - she did but bit small for that really.

    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  7. Pollowick

    Pollowick Screwfix Select

    Do you realise who MacAllister actually are?

    Not an independent but a Kingisher brand - so effectively B&Q or SF own brand.
  8. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    This is a branding exercise. The originals were Keter but I've seen MacAllister, Forge Steel and they're sold as Black and Decker overseas.
  9. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    I can only do that five times though and after that I'll be grooming a door stop.
  10. sospan

    sospan Screwfix Select

    I do like my Festool MFT table. Heavy to lug about but really useful
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  11. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    I've made a large MFT top using the parf guide system and I agree - it is very useful - and deadly accurate. I modified a couple of folding wooden trestles I made years ago so that the top slots on to those and finishes level with the plastic benches. This gives me a large working area when I need it.
  12. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    Do like the parf guide system,been tempted by it,but I'm lacking storage/work space until new workshop is built.

    Some good video's in link for laying out a pattern of 20mm holes in a work surface.
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  13. sospan

    sospan Screwfix Select

    The jig to make the hole is really good. I have an 8x4 MR chipboard top with the holes drilled in it and sits on 4 Toughbuilt trestles. Brilliant for making up tall cupboards and tucks away against a wall.
    KIAB and WillyEckerslike like this.
  14. sospan

    sospan Screwfix Select

    Once the penny dropped on how simple and useful it is. I made several tops and have them in a few places - even have part of the worktop in my allotment with the holes in it.

    The only down side is the price of the guide rail style clamps that fit through the holes. There are not many cheap but quality ones available
  15. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    Charlie Diyte has a series of YouTube videos about how he went from a pair of Stanley trestles to a folding/separating MFT style workbench.
    There are some DIY errors but he admits to any he's aware of so fair play to him.
    I'm sure it would be a great encouragement to a lot of viewers.

    Here's the first in the series

  16. sospan

    sospan Screwfix Select

    Whilst it is a good idea, personally I detest those Stanley trestles they are unstable and can trap your fingers in them. There are two types the junior and V Grove. The junior is particularly bad. I bought four when they were on offer from our hosts after a few days they went straight back to the store. When the store staff queried how something as simple as trestles could be faulty until I showed them the pinch marks on my fingers ....
  17. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    Agreed. I've never thought they looked the business but I know there are people that like them - thankfully we're not all the same.
    Mounted on some decent trestles, it's a good effort though, especially for someone who has limited space.
  18. ajohn

    ajohn Screwfix Select

    I've been lassoed by a certain gent with a hat who also seems to be sitting on a horse into looking at making a folding table from a single toughbuilt saw horse. It will turn out more less the same size as a Mac Alister, open nearly as easily and take up no more space when folded. Looks like it will be more stable but hard to be sure until done and if it doesn't work out can use it as a support with a workmate and the chipboard turned into a bit larger work table for that.

  19. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    I use a pair of Toughbuilt C700 trestles,rock solid in use(could use any of the others) got two sets of 4x2 rails, 8' & 4' lengths, & a sheet of 18mm ply,cut in half,gives me option of 4x4 or 8x4 work bench, ply has several holes in it for bench holds downs.

    Might get a sheet of 25mm ply,cut again in half & set some T tracks into it,for hold downs.
  20. ajohn

    ajohn Screwfix Select

    Even a 1m square is a bit on the big side for me in some places I will use it so basing on roughly 1m x 60cm. Tipping over etc - I work in any old direction on the workmate and it's never happened so all that matters is stiffness of the saw horse which seems to be rather good.

    Chipboard top. It always surprises me how stiff it is and cheaper than ply. ;) Also Selco have a suitable size already cut.


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