This is a complete guide to woodworking in an apartment. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about how to do cuts, sanding, joining, and finishing in an apartment.
With the limited space available and limited ventilation, it can be difficult to do woodworking in a safe way where you won’t be breathing in a ton of dust. And it’s easy to send clouds of dust down the hall, which can be annoying to your neighbors as well as cause you legal problems.
With a few action steps, you can implement that I will explain in this guide. I will show you ways to eliminate the amount of dust that goes throughout your apartment and how to save space so that you can still do this wonderful hobby/profession.
I often wondered how to save space when woodworking because there is much large equipment that is nice to have. Check out my article here on tools you need to get started woodworking.
I also love living in an apartment because everything I need is so close by, like restaurants, stores, and movie theatres. I am passionate about woodworking and have been learning it for some time now. I love to make tables and other practical things around the home because I can add my own unique style and create amazing pieces.
This complete guide is for a beginner to an advanced person who will do woodworking in an apartment. Or if you’re doing woodworking at the moment and are considering moving into an apartment.
I’ll break it down into individual steps. But, here’s an overall summary:
In an apartment, only one of the four walls has windows, generally, which can be opened to let out the dust. So, it is essential to use a dust extractor. There is also limited space, so you will need to use a hand tool rather than a smaller apartment machine.
Chapter 1: Plan whether you’re going to use machines, manual tools, or both
Machines use a lot more room, whereas manual tools take up very little. So, planning out your space is important before deciding what kind of woodshop you can have in your apartment or a potential apartment.
Here’s how you do that:
- Determine what tools you will need
- Decide if you have a preference for one or the other
1. Determine what tools you will need
In a recent article I wrote about [link: how much space you need for a woodshop] I showed how you need a woodshop needs at a minimum a:
- thickness planer
- miter saw
- table saw
But, in an apartment, you will absolutely need an external dust extractor. These are quite large about 2.5 ft by 2.5 ft (75 cm by 75 cm) – about the dimension of a small fridge.
The hand tool equivalents of these are:
- hand planers
- a sled
- a hand saw. It gets used instead of both a miter and a stable saw
2. Determine if you have a preference for one or the other
Machines are more efficient than doing woodworking using hand tools. If you’ll want to decide how many projects you’re going to produce, and if your space and budget for machines. Depending on where you’re at in your woodworking journey, you will have a preference for one over the other.
If you are brand new, some people have recommended starting by learning to do everything by hand. For a few reasons, one of the machines is a lot more expensive, and you might not be completely sold on woodworking yet. Two, it allows you to expand your skill set and not be limited to only being able to do woodworking when you have a machine.
So, if a machine breaks down and you’re waiting on a repair, you can still get on with your project. Also, machines take up a lot more space, so if the apartment you’re getting only has a small spare bedroom, and your space is minimal, you’ll want to go with hand tools.
Therefore, think about your unique situation in light of the above points and decide whether you’ll go with machines, hand tools, or a combination of the two. After that, you’ll need to plan it all out using precise measurements, so that’s the next chapter’s topic.
Chapter 2: Plan out your space
Now, you want to look at how much space you have or how much room you’re planning on dedicating to your woodworking endeavors. In a poorly planned woodshop, it’s more difficult to move around. So, it’s a good idea to spend some time working out your workflow and where you want to put all of your machines.
Therefore, below I’ll give you the average sizes of these machines and then some exact measurements. That way, you can see how much space you’ll need, and then you can mix and match based on how much space you have. And how you want to place them.
Also, to reference the previous article I wrote again, I went into more detail about how to place your machines so that your workflow is more efficient. You can read that by clicking here[link: how much space you need for a woodshop]; it’s under Section 4 Storage (tools and lumber).
Here’s what they are:
In the previous chapter, I showed the essential machines you will need and their hand tool equivalents. The machine version of a table saw is bulky. It is about the size of a dinner table. The other machines are about the size of a small fridge. But, if you use all of them together, they will take up a good amount of space.
Also, in your woodshop, you will have a work table, and you will need space to store your wood. On top of that, you will need space to store glue, hammers, nails, drills, sanding blocks, sandpaper, and clamps. For a complete list of the specific tools you will need, I recommend the guide by Yorksaw.com. You can read it by clicking here.
Which all together would take up about 2.5 ft by 2.5 ft (75 cm by 75 cm).
So, it will take up about the size of your workbench plus 6 small fridges for everything you need using machines, which is 125 square ft (11.6 square meters). Plus, the amount of room you need to walk in between the machines and your workbench. But, if you are using only hand tools, you will need the space for your workbench, plus two small fridges – one for all of your tools and one for the extractor fan.
At the minimum, you would need roughly 6 ft by 6 ft (1.8 m by 1.8 m), but that would be very tight. So, anything more than this is better but not necessary.
You can use an excellent free online tool to see where everything will fit and work out a woodshop floor plan that works for you. You can access it by clicking here to go to the website. You’ll need to get all the equipment and put everything in its proper place, which is the topic of the next and final section.
Chapter 3: Execute the plan
Now that you have a floor plan for your space, you’ll need to source all of the tools you’ll need. And then install them. I’ll also recommend some tools for you based on my experience and research. If you buy random tools, you might have mixed results.
This article gives a list of tools I think you should buy first. (Link Here)
To install the machines is a big undertaking, and you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Other tools are just a matter of finding a place to put them or installing hooks on the walls.
So, to recap in this article I covered the two main considerations when doing woodworking in an apartment – extracting the dust, and planning out your space.
Now, it’s your turn, let me know in the comments how’re you’re getting on with getting your wood shop set up in your apartment. And any issues you ran into.