Woodworking is one of the most useful and fun skills to have, but it’s also one of the loudest pastimes around.
So what should a woodworker do if they want to set up their own workshop in their apartment?
If you live in an apartment you can easily setup your own woodwork shop. For example;
- Focus on making small woodwork projects if your shop space is limited.
- Only use quiet hand tools so that you can save on storage space (and reduce noise levels!)
- Lay tarp down on the floor to catch sawdust and wood shavings.
- Rent a self storage unit and turn it into a small work shop away from your apartment.
- If self storage is too pricey in your area, you could check out local notice boards for a Community co-sharing work shop nearby.
Those are just a few quick ideas to get you started but lets keep going! Because there are a lot of little things involved in setting up any woodwork shop, and they can all too easily be over looked.
Woodworking When You Live In An Apartment (5 Tips)
TIP 1: Work Out If You Have Enough Space For A Workshop In Your Apartment
First things first, you need to figure out which room in your apartment is suitable for setting up a workshop.
It’s also worth taking into consideration if there is a corner of your apartment that is far away from the adjoining walls of your neighbors.
Once you’ve decided where you’ll set up shop, it is time to clear out that space of everything currently in it. This is so that you can get a good look at the area and see what the full dimensions of the room are.
At this point you want to start considering things such as;
- Where will you safely store your tools?
- Where will you put the workbench?
- What tools do you need that could take up a lot of floor space (i.e. Table Saw machine).
How Much Space Is Needed For A Woodworking Shop?
According to Yard Matrix data, the typical size of a U.S. apartment is 941 square feet.
Now, an ideally sized workshop – with all the bells and whistles – is approximately 125 square feet. Plus that would also need to come with a bit of extra room just for storing lumber.
But, if you live in a small apartment and need to cut back on square footage, then a minimum of 75 square feet is recommended.
TIP 2: Look Into Downsizing Your Woodworking Project
Another thing for you to consider is the size of your next woodworking project.
If finding space inside your apartment has proved too difficult, then you still have a few options available to you.
The first option you should look into is whether or not you can make the switch from big projects to small crafts.
Have you been planning on taking on some large woodworking projects, such as making beds and dining tables? Then you have to consider the fact that making these big pieces of furniture will likely require large power tools.
So maybe put those particular wood craft plans on the back burner for now in favor of making smaller items such as pallet wall racks, boxes and side tables.
TIP 3: Try To Reduce Your Workshop Noise Levels
If you have the space to do woodwork while living in an apartment, you might want to take some time to figure out how to soundproof your workshop.
Here are 3 simple methods you can try to help absorb the sounds of even the most ear splitting machinery;
Use Hand Tools
As a general rule of thumb, a quality hand tool can be much quieter than a large workshop bench machine.
Soundproof The Room
The key to sound proofing – and turning it into your woodwork fortress of solitude – is to try to cover the room (from floor to ceiling) in sound absorbing materials.
Materials such as thick heavy curtains, foam or blankets, will do in a pinch.
You could also soundproof a room by using book cases, (packed with books and old magazines), and line them along the walls.
Opt For Quiet Woodworking Projects
There are any number of woodworking crafts that don’t require power tools of any kind, such as Wood Carving or Marquetry.
BTW, if you want some great tutorials on making small (and quiet!) woodworking projects, you should check out my post, ’11 Surprisingly Simple Wood Carving Projects for Absolute Beginners’ by clicking here!
TIP 4: Check Out Alternative Workshop Spaces
If your heart is still set on making that big carpentry centerpiece – or your wood work project is going to be noisier than you’d like – then maybe an apartment workshop isn’t really an option for you right now.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up woodworking… instead, it’s time for you to get creative!
In other words, you need to start looking outside of your apartment for an alternative shop space…
Can You Do Woodworking In A Storage Unit?
Self-storage can be used for so much more than just storing old furniture and knick knacks.
With a range of different sized units on offer, a nearby self-storage unit could be the perfect place to set up shop.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind, however, if you plan on setting up a storage unit as your workshop;
- Ventilation Can Be Poor
This could be a real health issue what with all the inevitable saw dust and fumes that come with working on lumber.
Plus, your storage unit is unlikely to come with a window that you can crack open to create some airflow. However, leaving the unit door open while you work can be a quick workaround.
- The Storage Unit Facility May Not Allow You To Work There
Your nearby self storage service may not let you set up shop on their premises.
So make sure you check with the management of the facility first to get the go ahead for your workshop.
Find A Community Co-Working Space
If you apartment is a no-go, and self-storage units are a non-starter, you could try looking into joining a community workshop.
These aren’t difficult to find in most major cities, and they welcome both professionals and hobbyists alike.
However, be prepared to pay a weekly or monthly fee if you want to have access to all of the co-working tools, benches, and machinery.
TIP 5: Decide Which Tools You Absolutely Need (And What You Can Do Without)
Okay! So you’ve decided on a workshop area, (either in your home or away from your apartment), and your ready and raring to get to work.
The next step is to organize your workspace and gather the right tools to get the job done.
Dividing Up Your Woodwork Space Into Sections
For a typical workshop there are five sub-sections that you will need to mark out areas for the following;
- A Workbench Section
- Tool Storage
- Lumber (Wood) Storage
- Stationary Machine Section
- A Finishing Area.
Quick Tip: Even in a small space it is better to place your lumber storage and workbench section near to one another. It’ll reduce the amount of unnecessary walking back and forth across the shop floor.
12 Basic Woodworking Tools You Will Need For Your Woodwork Shop
Last, but not least, you can now start to bring in tools and kit out your work space.
So here’s a useful list of the 12 most common tools you can have to hand. But take note, this is not a comprehensive guide to woodworking equipment (and you don’t need to get everything on this list).
But if you are still in the early-ish stages of learning how to woodwork, then you won’t go too far wrong by getting a few of these items.
Note: If you’ve opted to setup shop in a co-working space, then many of these tools may already be available to you as part of your membership.
This standard piece of kit should be a staple in every toolbox. We recommend a ‘Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Claw Hammer’.
For more information about this hammer, check it out here.
These small tools allow you to hammer home those nails without damaging the surface of the wood. We recommend a ‘Stanley 58-230 3 – Piece Steel Nail Set’.
For more information about this nail set, check it out here.
Opt for all-purpose bevel-edge bench chisels. They are the multi-talented gift that keeps on giving. We recommend ‘Irwin Tools 6-Piece Marples Wood Chisels’.
For more information about these chisels, check them out here.
Even Chisels need a little TLC. So if you want to learn how to maintain your chisel set, check out my complete guide to chisel care by clicking here: ‘How To Care For A Chisel | 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions’.
These help keep your project on the straight and narrow – and stop things from going lopsided! We recommend a ‘Stabila 37816 48-Inch and 16-Inch Aluminum Box Beam Level Set’
For more information about this level, check it out here.
Get this if you want your right angles to stay sharp and in-line. We recommend a ‘Swanson Tool S0101 7-inch Speed Square Layout Tool’.
For more information about this speed square, check it out here.
This is essential for creating specialized notches and cuts. We recommend a ‘Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router’.
For more information about this router, check it out here.
A must have if you want to get everything perfect – right down to the centimeter. We recommend a ‘Komelon PG85 Woodworker’s Tape Measure’.
For more information about this measuring tape, check it out here.
If shop tools had a God Father this power tool would be the Don! We recommend the easy to store ‘Bosch 4100-09 Table Saw’.
For more information about this table saw, check it out here.
Handy for cutting through those trickier projects. We recommend a ‘DEWALT DW331K 6.5 Amp Jigsaw’.
For more information about this jigsaw, check it out here.
Does what a table saw does, but with a lot more mobility and versatility. We recommend a ‘Rockwell RK3440K Compact Circular Saw’.
For more information about this circular saw, check it out here.
Ideal for smoothing off those rough corners. We recommend a ‘Black & Decker BDERO600 Random Orbit Sander’.
For more information about this sander, check it out here.
A good power drill can mean the difference between a job half-finished and a job well done. We recommend a ‘Bosch DDB181-02 1/2″ Compact Tough Drill’.
For more information about this power drill, check it out here.
Living in an apartment needn’t stop you from starting your next (or even very first!) woodworking project.
So with just a bit of planning – and applying the tips outlined above – hopefully you can now do just that.