While you might not think you can take up woodworking as a hobby if you live in a small apartment, that is not the case. Don’t get hung up thinking you can only do woodworking if you have a big workshop or large yard space.
While it might not be the most ideal of situations, there are plenty of ways you can take up woodworking even if all you have workspace-wise is a small apartment or condo.
The most important thing you will need to know is how to get set up with the right tools and equipment. You will also need to plan your space ahead of time. Take a look at your apartment, and strategize how best to use the space.
Also, make sure when you are shopping for materials that you are only buying what you need and not buying extras that you will need to find storage space for.
While you might need to keep your projects on the small side, you can do quite a bit of woodworking in a small space. Read on for some tips and tricks that will teach you how to do woodworking when you live in a small apartment!
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What You'll Learn...
- Tools and Equipment for Woodworking When You Live in an Apartment
- Using Small Space Efficiently for Woodworking
- Soundproofing Your Space
- Keep Your Projects Smaller
- Buy ONLY What You Need
- Best Ways to Clean Up Your Apartment After Woodworking
- Upgrading to a Larger Workshop
- Enjoy Woodworking in your Apartment!
Tools and Equipment for Woodworking When You Live in an Apartment
The key to selecting your tools is you want to make sure your tools are, for the most part, all handheld. You will not have the space for large pieces of equipment to take up residence in your apartment permanently.
While no two woodworkers will need the same tools, there are a few essential pieces in the tool chest of most woodworkers.
Here is a look at the tools and equipment you should consider investing in if you are going to be woodworking in a small apartment:
Portable Table Saw
Most woodworkers use this tool. These saws, usually around 10 inches in size, do not take up space on the floor can be easily stored in a closet when you are finished with your project.
This will be one of the tools you use most as a woodworker, and fortunately, you can now buy a portable table saw like the one below for a reasonable price.
DeWalt DWS779 Miter Saw
You can get a compact miter saw like this one with a smaller 10-inch blade, making it ideal for working on smaller woodworking projects in your home or apartment.
Most woodworking projects will need this saw as well since it is so versatile. It can cut through various sizes and types of wood like plywood, drywall, chipboard, or particleboard. No matter what kind of wood you are working with, you can make precise cuts with the right circular saw. They will also not take up much space when stored in a closet.
This tool is optional, but it might be necessary, depending on what you are building. Small in size and easy to store, a jigsaw can help you make curved cuts in wood or cut out small stencils or bevels.
If your projects do not require these types of cuts, you do not need a jigsaw. But, do not even consider making those types of cuts without a jigsaw.
Another investment to consider is a portable workbench that is collapsible and easy to store. This will hold your tools and gear much better than your kitchen table, and you do not have to risk scratching your kitchen table.
Most of these tools would come in handy even if you are woodworking in a larger space, so if you upgrade your living space, you will most likely still use all of these tools.
Don’t overlook tools you might already have on hand, like a good power drill. A regular power drill can also come in handy while woodworking in a small apartment.
Using Small Space Efficiently for Woodworking
Learning how to use your small space is essential. If you are accustomed to woodworking in a big workshop this might be a challenge for you to downsize.
However, if you are just starting woodworking for the first time, you should have no problem getting used to your work space.
One decision to make at this stage is if you want to set up a permanent woodshop space, or if you will be taking everything down and storing it in between using it. If it’s temporary, you might be able to use your kitchen table.
If your woodworking space will be more permanent, you do still have a few options for a workspace in an apartment.
If you are fortunate enough to have a spare bedroom, you can utilize that room for your workshop. Or, get creative- set up a woodshop outside on a balcony, which would also make the cleanup process much easier!
If you are not building big projects and are going to focus on making small items like a candle holder or paper towel holder, you might be able to set up shop right in the kitchen on your kitchen table.
You can work right on the table, as long as you put a strong piece of plywood down first.
Soundproofing Your Space
If you are going to be using a lot of saws and power tools, you do not want to annoy your neighbors. In an apartment, be mindful of the walls you share with your neighbors.
Do not do woodworking projects late at night, and find ways to soundproof your apartment. It should not be too hard to do some basic soundproofing, and there are a few ways you can accomplish this:
● Any hardware store should sell soundproofing panels that you can hang up on the walls in your apartment that you share with neighbors. These walls should absorb the noise from your power tools and make it so that your neighbors won’t hear your saws.
● The other option you can consider is to install an insulation sheet board. If you buy thick insulation, you can cover all the walls and windows that are exposed to neighbors. This one here works very well for a contractor friend of mine…
No matter how you decide to soundproof, make sure you get something set up before you start sawing. No neighbor in an apartment wants to hear your power saws, no matter what time of day it is!
Keep Your Projects Smaller
Let’s face it…it’s probably not a good idea to build an entire set of cabinets for the laundry room while living in a small apartment. It is best to keep your projects on the smaller size as long as you are woodworking in your apartment.
Fortunately, there are quite a few small projects you can do while woodworking in a small space like:
● Paper towel holders
If you are starting a business and want to sell your goods, the good news is you can sell these in bulk. Just because you cannot sell bigger items does not mean you cannot profit by selling smaller items in bulk quantities.
Keep in mind that smaller projects are usually a little easier. Take advantage of your time in your apartment, and perfect your skills with small woodworking projects.
Then, when you move into a house with a big workshop, your skills will be ready to move up a level, and you can tackle larger, more complicated woodworking projects with ease.
Buy ONLY What You Need
While many hobbyists like to store a collection of tools and materials they will need, when you do not have much space to work with, you should only buy materials for the project you are going to be working on next.
Now is not the time to take advantage of wholesale on lumber. Make a list of the specific materials you need for your project, and buy only those.
Some apartment buildings might give you an extra storage space down in the basement, but even then, it’s not advisable to buy in bulk.
Indeed, do not buy in bulk only to store it in a self-storage unit off-site. The fees for the storage unit wipe out and savings you might get by buying in bulk.
Until you have a home with a large workshop, stick to buying only the materials you need, so you do not need to worry about storing them in a small space.
Large plywood and other materials might also be challenging to get home and into your apartment. An exception to the “buy only what you need” principle might be if you need to borrow a pickup truck or rely on a friend to help you get your materials into your apartment.
In that case, you should buy as many materials as you can comfortably store since you might not be easily able to get back to the store to get more materials.
Best Ways to Clean Up Your Apartment After Woodworking
You should always wear a dust mask or a respirator when you are woodworking, especially when you’re working in confined quarters. The chips and debris can easily cause congestion, and if you do it a lot, they can even cause lung problems.
Dust can also ruin carpeting, and you do not want to be in a situation where you have to move out of your apartment without getting your security deposit returned.
Even if you wear a dust mask, you still have to figure out how to clean your apartment and how to keep the dust away from the rest of your family or roommates.
Consider investing in an air cleaner, or make your own using furnace filters and a good box fan. A portable dust collector is another investment you might want to consider.
You can also add a saw hood to some of your power saws, which should keep the sawdust consolidated to one location and make it easier to clean up with the shop-vac you need to buy. This should help you clean up any of the dust that gets into carpeting or flooring.
Make sure when you are woodworking that you cover your floor the best you can. If it’s a big project, put some plywood or laminate down on the floor that can collect dust.
Of course, you might be able to get away with just putting a drop cloth down like you would if you are painting. Covering your floor always makes clean up a little bit easier.
It also might seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you keep any doors in your apartment closed while you are woodworking. Consider putting a towel on the floor to block the gap under the door.
You want to keep out all dust from other rooms, as that is less cleanup you will need to do when you are done.
Upgrading to a Larger Workshop
In most cases, people move out of apartments into larger homes, and you might end up with a garage or a dedicated workshop for woodworking.
The nice thing is, if you follow all the instructions on this list, you will easily be able to transition into a larger workshop.
All of the tools will work in a bigger space, and you will not have a ton of excess materials that you need to move.
If you can make woodwork in your apartment, you will easily be able to move into a larger space someday and expand the size and volume of woodworking projects that you can work on.
Enjoy Woodworking in your Apartment!
Now you know that it certainly is not hard to enjoy woodworking when you live in an apartment. Set yourself up with the right tools and equipment, and plan to work on smaller projects while you are in an apartment.
Most importantly, do not forget about safety. Wear a dust mask while you are working, and cover your floors ahead of time to make cleanup easier when you are all finished.
Don’t let your small apartment deter you from woodworking – after following these tips, you should be ready to start woodworking in your apartment today!