I'm getting into woodworking, however, I have no space for a workshop. I
live in a townhouse with no basement or garage. I live in Severn, Maryland,
and the Woodworkers Club at the Woodcraft shop in Rockville is about 45
minutes away assuming no traffic, 5 or 6 hours with normal DC Beltway
traffic. I haven't been able to find a woodworking club to join around here
that has a workshop to use. The question is: What do I do? I'm sure at
least one of you has struggled with the lack of space for a decent workshop.
I've even thought about trying to get a bunch of other guys with the same
problem together and leasing some industrial space, but I'm sure the cost of
the space would be too much for us to afford. Any other ideas?
Have a truck? I did several projects with hand tools on the tailgate of my
S-10 while in college. Now that I'm "grown up" I bought a newer s10 and
still do some work there with my cordless tools. I cut all the plywood
panels for my kitchen cabinets on the back of that truck with a little 9.6v
circular saw. Have a porch/patio? You can run a router there. I have
seen a small benchtop table saw recently at one of the borgs that had a
small stand with wheels attached to it, it looks like a small luggage cart
with a table saw attached to it, roll it out and stand it up and go.
Depends on the space, area, etc. About 10-12 years ago, I took a lease on a
basement under a sub shop. This was in a small town, so cost was low, at $125 a
month. Some problems, naturally. I had to rewire and paint walls and floor and
install a large window AC--dank as all get out in late spring and summer. And
put in more lights. Shape was a little goofy--19-1/2' x 63'--and the exterior
door was too low, but otherwise, I got 3 very good years out of it at what I
thought was a great price. Look for something not quite ready for prime time
and fix it up a bit, if you do rent. Much cheaper that way.
Cost me maybe $400 or $500 to get it usable. Heat was free (furnace in the
basement), but I had to use care with finishing and with some kinds of sanding
to keep from ruining the furnace (or the building).
"An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man's entire existence."
Honore de Balzac
In Scott Landis's book, "The Workshop Book," he profiles several people who
work out of very small spaces, including one guy work works out of an
Remember, you don't NEED power tools, they just make things go more quickly.
Especially if you want to build relatively small things, then you can
probably just do it with hand tools inside your townhouse.
I was going to suggest this book, but you beat me to it. It really is
inspirational in that it shows you how people improvise. After looking
at that book I'd hardly think David could have any excuses.
FWIW, I live is a roughly 600 sq ft. studio apartment. The only power
tools I have are a Metabo cordless drill, Dayton 10" bench top drill
press, a Delta 14" bandsaw and a small Jet 2 stage dust collector. I
chose these tools because of their relatively low noise. I own a few
Japanese saws, chisels, Stanley hand planes and a Record #45 I use in
lieu of a router to make dados, rabbets, etc. My "workshop" occupies
the living area of my apartment. Being conscious of dust control and
vacuuming thoroughly afterwards helps a lot. Where there's a will
there's a way...especially in woodworking where I've really learned
there's more than one way to skin a cat, or cut dovetails, or chop
mortises and make dados. A table saw is nice but you don't NEED one.
On Tue, 04 May 2004 03:03:00 GMT, "Mark Wells"
The owner of a local Woodcraft, and woodworking school, has a shop in
The condo shop has ONE power tool, a 14" Delta bandsaw. The rest of
the shop is a good quality bench w/ vises and hand tools. Bandsaws
don't make much noise, probably on par with exercise equipment, so you
may get away with one in a multi-unit dwelling. His shop is in a
My 14" BS makes less noise when it's *cutting* than my
air-conditioning unit which is blasting right now to help me and my
two cats cope with the heat here in Los Angeles. One can woodwork and
not disturb the neighbors if you're willing to do a little neandering.
I'm in a similar situation. I live in New York City in a 750 sq. ft.
one bedroom apartment with my wife. First, I would suggest that you
look around (this lead about the Annapolis woodworkers guild seems
like a great thing to follow up on) for classes or any other resources
-- not just for space to work but for what you can learn by working
with other people. Check out local community colleges and even high
schools for classes or shop space.
As far as working in your apartment, there is a lot you can do with a
little space and no power tools. I'm in the process of building a
workbench that is collapsable but has all the benefits of a
traditional workbench. You can rip, plane, drill and cut dovetails
Of course, you can do everything with hand tools. It's been done for
hundreds of years! But power tools can of course save lots of time.
My philosophy is to use this time to gain hand tool skills that will
serve me well for the rest of my life. I'm sure I'll move at some
point and have space for a shop. I'm taking a class at a local art
school and so I can use their shop.
In terms of noise, the worst thing is the pounding when you are
chopping mortises. I've gotten complaints so I've had to stop doing
that. I do that in the art school shop or on a park bench!
Get a good vaccuum cleaner.
I'm going to buy a drill stand from Grizzly that let's you use a
regular hand power drill as a small drill press.
Dimensioning-- I'm learning how take rough lumber and give it 6 square
sides with hand tools. But sometimes it's nice to have wood already
milled. You might try a store called Exotic Lumber, which is in
Gaithersberg, MD. I've dealt with them before and they are great.
They have great lumber and, for a fee, will mill to whatever dimension
you want. http://www.exoticlumberinc.com I've even used cast-off
hardwood flooring to make furniture. It's already planed. You can
glue up several pieces if you need a different thickness.
My point is, where there's a will, there's a way.
Have you checked out the Howard county woodworker's guild?
http://www.hcwg.org I live in northern Baltimore county, so it's a bit far
for me to go, but they seem to have a good shop and have pretty interesting
discussions at their meetings. I've emailed a couple of the people and they
seem like really nice folks.
I see some great suggestions, and I think that the Scott Landis's(SP) book
is a must.(G)
How about taking a look at an old standby "Hand Tools" and their ways and
workings, by Aldren A. Watson, Why? Because he has drawings showing the
neatest looking fold down woodworking bench in a closet that I've every
seen , never tried it but I sure think it's worth looking at for someone
with a lack of space.(G)
If you happen to one of the following: "active duty, DOD civilians,
retired and reservist personnel and their family members", then you
might want to check out the woodshop on Ft. Meade.
I was stationed there for 5 years, but was more interested in auto
mechanics than woodworking at the time. That being said, if their
woodworking shop is outfitted as well as their automotive shop, you will
be the envy of most everybody in this NG :)
David P. Hagan wrote:
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