First Workbench – Really First

I’m taking a couple days off in the deep woods (way offline). During this break I thought I’d run one of our most popular “Woodworking Daily” posts of all time – the summary of Robert Lang’s “Shop Box System.” If you have a good eye for cutting diagrams and plan views, you can build this sweet mobile workbench right now based on the following pictures.






In the full-length article and related blog posts, Bob answers the age-old question: “What do you use for your first workbench when you’re building a permanent workbench?” That’s a much more relevant dilemma for most of us than the chicken-or-egg conundrum. (Which came first? I usually skip that question and go straight to chicken fried with an egg batter.)

But the true genius of this shop box system is how many different uses it has. Here’s a selected list of three, with images that link to more detailed blog posts:


1. Rotated to either their 30″ or 33″ heights, as temporary stands for either a chop saw or a benchtop planer (respectively).


2. As an easily stationed marking and measuring set-up, anywhere in your shop.


3. For cutting plywood with your circular saw, in either the shop or the parking lot.

I asked Bob about his most recent uses for the boxes, and he said, “I used them to build the ’21st-Century Workbench’ and they are still in use today, although David Thiel busted one of the I-beams using it to lever a 15″ planer off a truck and onto the loading dock.” For some reason, maybe because it’s Friday, that last part makes me chuckle. But an eight-year run in a busy shop is not bad at all, especially since the majority of the components are as good as new.

Do you have friends who are looking for an accessible entry point into the craft and want to build their first workbench? Please share this post with them, keep the conversation going, and write to us to tell us about that journey. We think shop projects are fundamental, and fun!

Bonus points if your friends are eating fried chicken – or even fried eggs – off their shop box top for dinner tonight.

Dan Farnbach

Woodworking Daily Blog
Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is a former online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.