Woodworking By LPI - Woodworking In Apartment

You want to know how you can do woodworking when you live in an apartment. You have a passion for woodworking but limited space. Here I will provide solutions and considerations for you to consider and realistically see if you can do woodworking in your current apartment.

Woodworking in your apartment can be challenging due to space, storage of woodworking tools, and noise level. Common areas you can use are and an extra bedroom, extra space in your living room, balconies, or storage area provided with the apartment. Small woodworking projects work best to start with.

Another area to consider is your assigned parking spot or garage if provided with your apartment. If an assigned parking spot or garage is not provided or is limited due to the possibility of the noise you may make or storage of tools and material you can still utilize the space.

I would suggest looking for a storage unit local to your apartment to store all your material and tools. Most of your storage units will not allow you to use the storage unit to work in, but will of course allow you to store your woodworking tools and materials. This will save the space in your apartment and the cumbersome task of continually walking over them.


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1. Planning The Workspace In An Apartment

Woodworking When You Live In An Apartment

Where do you start your planning for woodworking in your apartment? As mentioned above there are several considerations. If you have a small apartment say 600 square feet or less you may find it frustrating dealing with the lack of space, wood shavings, and placement of material and tools.

If you are looking for inspiration and you would like to read an article on how a gentleman in Queens, New York is dealing with this and still has success you can read his article here.

I liked his article because he pointed out several things which you wouldn’t think of dealing with when considering woodworking in an apartment. Despite the frustrations, he is moving forward and looking to his success.

Let’s look at how you would plan to start woodworking in your apartment. So let’s start with some basics and questions you need to ask yourself.

  • What type of woodworking will you be doing – This is key because it will determine what tools and materials you will be using and needing to store. I would suggest you start little and look at what you will need to have on-hand to perform your woodworking activities.
  • What type of tools will you need – This is kind of a domino affect as you determine what you will be doing will also determine what tools you will need. This is crucial as you might be able to use hand tools or you may need power tools.

    Of course with power tools you will need to consider where you are using them, for example does the space you chose have a wall next to a neighbor. Additionally, if you use power tools you will need to consider the time of day you use them.
  • What materials (Wood) will I need – As mentioned above the purpose of your woodworking project will determine the materials you need. Additionally, you will need to know how much material you will need. Do you need to keep raw stock and do you need to keep orders in storage for a period of time.

    Lastly, what size of materials will you need. Of course buying in bulk will save you money, do you have the space or do you go and rent a storage unit to store your materials and grab them as you need them.

    If you would like to know about selecting wood for wood signs you can look at my post –What Is The Best Wood For Wood Signs?”

  • Do you need painting, sealing or finishing products – If you do any type of woodworking projects you will most likely need to paint, seal or finish the product. These products are great for creating the finished wood product for you to sell. However they have fumes and other safety concerns you need to aware of when using them in a confined space.

    You need to consider where you will be storing them and additionally where you will be using them. Some of these products while using them will produce fumes which will travel around your apartment as well as down a hallway and possibly into your neighbor’s apartment.

    Lastly, you will need to consider how you will be disposing of them. Most of these type of products have rules and regulations which govern how they are to be disposed of. There are services and local companies which can assist you and I would suggest you looking into these services as you most likely can’t put them in your regular trash.

    If you would like to know about painting wood for wood signs you can look at my post –Down To Earth Way Of Painting Wood Signs

    If you would like to know about sealing wood for wood signs you can look at my post – “How Do You Seal Your Wood Signs
  • Will you need shipping materials – As you begin to sell your woodworking products you will need to consider how you will get your woodworking products to your customer. Will you be hand carrying them or will you need to ship them.

    Most likely as your woodworking products sell you will need to ship them. You will need to store wrapping materials, tape, labels, boxes and other shipping materials. You have the option of storing them in another location, such as a storage unit, however if you don’t have the budget for this you will need to consider storing them in your apartment.

    A final consideration for an alternative to storing all of your shipping materials is to use a service locally such as a UPS store. They have services which will package and ship your woodworking products. Although it can be expensive it is a good consideration with limited space in your apartment.

2. Apartment Woodworking Noise

Woodworking By LPI - Lady And Loud Noise

If you are using power tools for woodworking in your apartment there are several considerations you need to think about. Beyond annoying your neighbors there are other sound considerations. Using power tools in a confined space can have devastating effects on your hearing.

According to the CDC exposure to noise above 85 decibels (dB) can cause permanent hearing loss. And constant exposure can cause ringing and other life-changing effects. Let’s look at some of the typical noise levels of most of the common woodworking power tools.

Woodworking ToolDecibel Levels
Table Saw100
Shop Vacuum98
Electric Drill88

The above chart is decibel sound references from the National Ag Safety Database and shows the high levels of common woodworking tools above 85 decibels. The reason I show you these levels is to emphasize the level of woodworking power tool decibels and the potential damage which can occur to you.

Additionally, it is important to know the placement and use of woodworking power tools in rooms or wood shops which may reflect sound and cause potential hearing loss or the transfer of noise to your neighbor. If you would like to know more about the placement and the tests completed you can view a great source from the University of Florida here.

Knowing the effects of sound on you and your neighbors is quite a consideration for the use of power tools. This needs to be in your thoughts if you live in an apartment and are using woodworking power tools.

If you are wanting to know if it is possible to have a small woodworking shop in your apartment I have provided this video below. The gentleman measures his dB levels and shows the levels of noise. Keep in mind each apartment will be different, but this gentleman seems to be very successful at having a woodworking shop in his apartment.

As an alternative, you may want to move your woodworking power tools to a balcony, outside in the parking lot, or another room to which you have access after coordinating with the owner of the apartment complex.

If using woodworking power tools is not an option you can ask a friend, search for a local wood shop with rental tools or look for a crafts adult school or community center in your local community which may allow you to use their space.

The best option is to use hand tools for woodworking projects. This is the best option and would not produce noise that would affect yourself as well as your neighbors.

3. Wood Carving In An Apartment

Woodworking By LPI - Man Sawing

As I mentioned above I believe the best consideration for your wood carving in an apartment is the purpose. What type of woodworking will you be doing? Most folks when they get started in woodworking, experiment with different styles and levels of woodworking before they commit to a specific niche.

You will want to consider a few things:

  • What interests you?
  • What supplies are available to you at a cost you are willing to pay?
  • What space do you have available and options if you don’t?
  • What tools will you need?

The above list is a slimmed-down version of the bigger picture from above and I mention them again because they are important to you for wood carving in your apartment.

Let’s take a look at some ideas which will help you plan your woodworking in your apartment. The below video is a great example of how you can perform woodworking in an apartment, where to store equipment and utilize space and still have a living space you can use.

Here are some suggestions on what you can start within woodworking in a small space such as an apartment.

  • Hand Carving – This niche would initially require the least amount of tools, hand tools, and storage. Additionally, most of the time it doesn’t require any power tools which would solve your noise consideration.
  • Small Wood Products – Small wood products such as coasters, and small hanging items for Home Decor can be a niche which also doesn’t require a lot of tools and space.
  • Production Items – There are many opportunities where you can create small items for companies which require personal hand creations. This can be anything from small furniture to small home decor items.

    This is a repeatable type of business/hobby which allows you flexibility and to learn the basics. These types of projects also typically include templates and base wood supplies. Search Google for these types of opportunities which allow you to get into something you enjoy.

  • Small Beginner Woodworking Projects – If you search Google for small beginner woodworking projects you will find multiple opportunities which will peak your interest. This is something you can do easily and see what will work for your space.
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As you can see there are many opportunities that you can take advantage of when looking at woodworking in your apartment. If you are new to the woodworking field and want to learn more you can continue to look here at my blog for all kinds of teachings which help you start in woodworking.

You can also look to your local community for training such as local schools and community centers. They offer many opportunities to learn skills and know what you will need and how to get into the woodworking niche which you enjoy.

Lastly, if you want an ultimate guide on how to set up a small woodwork shop – The Basics here is a great resource.

4. How To Cut Wood In An Apartment

According to WikiHow there are many ways to cut wood. It ranges from the basics of hand tools to power tools. It also provides how to look at specific species of wood and how to manipulate wood for cutting to specific shapes and sizes.

I bring this up because as a woodworker cutting wood is such a generic phrase. It really depends on what you will be doing as a woodworker and what type/species of wood you will be working with. So having a great source of information on a variety of cutting wood is a great start.

More focusing on generic types of wood cutting techniques specifically for an apartment narrows down our list. I wanted to suggest some beginner methods as well as some beginner wood cutting tools which are cost-effective as well as effective in planning how you cut wood in an apartment without high cost or bugging your neighbor.

Handsaw – There are several different types of handsaw. Basic, Hacksaw, Coping, and Japanese saws. All of these have different functions and can saw wood very effectively. They are fairly inexpensive and do not take up space. If you want to know more of the basics on how to use a handsaw you can find information here.

Power Saws – This is a totally different category for cutting wood and requires a little more skill. You can find many different types of power saws from many different vendors or also used ones at your second-hand stores (caution – ensure they work properly prior to use).

Circular saws, band saws, miter saws, table saws. reciprocating saws, or Jigsaws, they all have a couple of things in common they cut wood very fast, make lots of noise, and produce a lot of sawdust. These are things you can overcome as mentioned more in the post above and below.

The most common power saw you will use in woodworking will be the Miter Saw. Here is a video that will give you the basics of a miter saw.

If you are wanting more information regarding different types of saws and their use you can find a lot of information at Fine Power Tools here. It is an excellent article providing overall information on most of the power saws and their use.

5. Woodworking Apartment Balcony

Woodworking By LPI - Apartment

You have limited space in your apartment but you do have a balcony you can use. Don’t let the limited space you have in your apartment limit you to the possibility of not doing the woodworking you want to do.

How can you best use your balcony for woodworking? Let’s look at some of the considerations which will help you in making the best of the space you have available.

The questions you need to ask are:

  • What size is the balcony – Say for example it is the typical 4×8. That is quite a bit of space to use. If you are lucky it will be bigger and you will be able to take advantage of that space.
  • Is there a lot of noise – If your balcony is exposed to a noisy street or highway it will impact your ability to concentrate.
  • Does it have a lot of wind – This is a concern as any sawdust, paint or sealing you may do will be impacted by the wind. Also, foreign debris my end up in your final product while drying
  • Is there any Shade/Cover – Having shade will benefit you when you are working outside and don’t want to be in the direct sunlight. The sunlight and the glare of the sunlight will impact not only you as the woodworker but also your product. Sunlight is not the friend of paint, stain or sealer. However, having shade/cover on the balcony will benefit you if it rains and when you want to work outside during inclement days which you can work outside.
  • Privacy – Usually this would not be a concern, however when you are looking to do some woodworking it may become a concern. The noise and fumes may impact your neighbors if the balcony is close enough.
  • Access – The location of the door to the balcony is crucial. The reason is you will be going back and forth with supplies, saws and other supplies. Is the space for the doorway wide enough or have a clear path. Additionally, are you on the second floor and above, this may be a consideration for you to adjust to for woodworking on your balcony.
  • View – You may or may not have a view from your balcony. For the purpose of woodworking a view may or may not be your best friend. If you have neighbors which express concerns regarding the noise or fumes that will not be to your benefit.

    However, having a view will provide you a nice area to work in and stress reliever while you create your woodworking projects.

  • Is the balcony Recessed, Cantilevered or Semi-Recessed – These are considerations I was surprised where not discussed very much in my research. Let’s look at the benefits of all of them for woodworking on you balcony.

    • Recessed – A recessed balcony is totally flush with the walls of the apartment. This provides protection from the wind, sunlight, and rain. This is a benefit for you to use as a location for woodworking as it provides great protection from the elements.
    • Cantilevered – Cantilevered balconies are totally extended from the wall of the apartment. These are the most common and may provide the most space. The downside of a cantilevered is you will not have any cover (typically) or shade, as well be totally exposed to wind and will need to only use the space when the weather cooperates.
    • Semi-Recessed – A Semi-Recessed balcony is a combination of both. Although the recessed balcony is the best option this is a good compromise. It will provide partial shade and shield from the elements although typically not much cover for shade from rain and sunlight.

Another thing you will need to consider is a flat space to work on, such as a workbench. The workbench needs to be small and be able to match your balcony size. A good suggestion would be not only to make it small but portable. I have included a video below which is a great solution to consider.

This not only allows you to have a great workspace but something you can breakdown and store in your apartment.

Lastly, let’s look at storage. If you have the space on your balcony and don’t have the space in your apartment you can create storage on your balcony for all of your woodworking tools and materials.

You can get really creative with this and create a storage box for your woodworking tools and material as well as for use as a bench. This would be the optimal situation as the space on your balcony is limited.

Below I have included a great video for the creation of a DIY Outdoor Storage Bench. This will maximize the space you have on your balcony and also dual purpose as storage for your woodworking tools and material.

6. Apartment Woodworking Bench

Woodworking By LPI - Woodbench

You will need a flat surface to create your woodworking projects. In my research, I have seen many different types of woodworking bench ideas. With limited space, you will need to get creative.

Do you use your kitchen table or a make-shift table? This work, however, are not optimal for woodworking. Since you have limited space and need a dedicated woodworking bench I wanted to provide some great ideas for you to consider.

Portable Woodworking Bench

A portable woodworking bench would be the best solution for limited space. It allows you to use the bench while working on your woodworking projects, however, be able to collapse when you don’t need it and store it away.

There are many different types of portable woodworking benches you can purchase or make. Of course, you can go to a local hardware store or online and buy one which folds up with metal legs and some minor grips. This would be great to start with however will not work for you over time as your woodworking projects grow.

If you would like to look at more options to purchase you can find them here.

DIY Small Woodworking Bench

As you need more space to work on you may want to build one for yourself. There are a few options I wanted to bring up. Most folks think of a collapsible workbench, but I also wanted to suggest a folding woodworking bench as well.

This would attach to a wall and fold down. The advantage to this type of woodworking bench would be it would allow you a good working space to work on, however when not needed you would simply fold down on the wall, hence putting it away.

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Below I have included a great video of the concept. Although a larger version shows what can be done to create a big workspace and when not using save that same workspace.

There are many ideas for your woodworking bench which you can use for a space to create your woodworking projects. As mentioned you need to get creative for your space.

7. Dealing With Dust In An Apartment From Woodworking

Woodworking By LPI - Dust

If you are doing any woodworking in your apartment you will create sawdust. Not only does it create a mess but is a safety issue as well. What can you do about the dust created from woodworking in your apartment?

Lay Down A Tarp

Laying down a tarp or other type of cloth below your woodworking area will capture a lot of the dust and debris which will fall down from your workbench. Although a simple solution, it will save you a lot of effort in sweeping and attempting to keep your apartment clean.

These can be purchased from any of your hardware stores and comes in various sizes which will help you in the space you have dedicated to your woodworking.

If you would like to look at more options to purchase you can find them here.

Table Top Dust Evacuation System

If you are using hand saws or any wood cutting tools you don’t need a complete woodshop dust collection system. However, with fine dust getting everywhere, and believe me it travels, a table top dust evacuation system works very well.

I connect to a shop vacuum and you place it behind any woodworking tool as you cut. It is a great solution with a simple fix. Additionally, it doesn’t take a lot of space so it can be stored away with ease.

If you would like to look at more options to purchase you can find them here.

Dedicated Sweeper/Shop Vacuum

If you have dust you will need a sweeper or shop vacuum. Of course, this is to sweep up any excess dust and debris created from your woodworking projects. Additionally, a shop vac works very well with the tabletop dust collection mentioned above.

A good shop vac should have availability of filters and a hose which you can move around to multiple locations. They do tend to be a little loud so I suggest when looking for a good shop vac you consider the noise level created.

Lastly, you don’t need a large shop vac for the purpose of collecting dust and debris in your apartment but one which you can store away and does the job.

If you would like to look at more options to purchase you can find them here.

If you would like to know about dust collection systems to better understand you can look at my post – “What’s The Best Dust Collector For A Small Shop

8. Buying The Right Woodworking Tools For An Apartment

Woodworking By LPI - Wood Tools

Tools for woodworking in your apartment is a personal choice. During my research, I have seen various scenarios with hand tools and power tools. Of course, this depends on the space you are able to provide and also the woodworking projects you will be working on.

Selecting tools should be lined up with your needs and budget. As well your selection of hands tools or power tools should be aligned with your needs and budget.

My recommendation(s) are the following (as referenced above in the post):

  • Woodworking bench
  • Basic Hand Saw
  • Drill
  • Basic Sander (Orbital or Finishing)
  • Grip and Clamps

Another recommendation would be for cordless tools versus corded. The reason I mention this is due to the flexibility of the tool and the ability to use the tools anywhere in your apartment versus needing an electric outlet nearby.

If you would like to see what products I’m using and purchase you can see my recommended products here – “Recommended Products

9. Woodworking Projects in An Apartment

Woodworking By LPI - Handsanding

Creating woodworking projects in your apartment may limit your space but should not limit your passion for woodworking projects. There are a lot of different types of projects you can accomplish and sell.

Whether one of a kind or production type of projects the sky is the limit. Don’t let the space of your apartment make you think you have to do small. Go with your passion for woodworking.

I wanted to give you some ideas which you can use to get started with. Sometimes the idea of woodworking is great but we don’t know where to start.

  • Candleholders – Small candleholders are fairly easy to create and can be done with scrape wood. These don’t require power tools for the most part and are a great place to start.
  • Cup Holders – There are many variations of cup holders. They range from being on a couch arm to being placed on furniture as coasters. The flexibility of this type of product is vast. Additionally, if you are able to personalize with wood burning inlay for example is a great idea.
  • Planters – These vary from being in you home for home decor or outside for display in your garden or to include you home number. The stains and color can vary. They are always great sellers.
  • Small Boxes – These are great gifts for anybody. The hold things and can be personalized and customized. You can vary the size and character. If you a small product with many possible audiences this is a great product to start with.
  • Arrow Wall Decor – You can create this in multiple sizes and variations. They also can be in different colors and with customization. This is a hidden gem in the home decor niche.
  • Wooden Door Mat – This is a small wood product which is easy to make and can use scrape wood. Customize and offer your customer value with a great starter product.
  • BookEnds – This product is very easy to make and be utilized with many different types of home decor. It can be sold anywhere from rustic to elegant types of home decor. A great product to look at creating.

If you are looking for a great list of more small wood project ideas you find more great ideas here.

10. Alternatives You Can Consider

Woodworking By LPI - Man On Bench

Let’s look at other items to consider for woodworking in your apartment. For example, what do you do with your scrap wood, dust, what is the best time of day to work with your tools and lastly what do you do as your hobby or business grows.

Alternative Resources

We all want to save money when we start our woodworking hobby or business. This is mostly because we want our startup and daily operating costs low. Wood is a great product to use as it comes in many forms, styles, and sizes which allow us to create many different types of woodworking projects.

I wanted to provide a few resources for you to help in your woodworking efforts. Below is a small list for you to consider.

  • Wood Sources – You don’t have to always go to the lumber yard or hardware to get lumber. Many local business throw away pallets and other wood. You can ask the owner if you can have these and most of the time they will tell you yes.

    Other wood sources can be found on Craiglist and Facebook Market place. A low cost or even sometimes free source of wood can be found at these sources.

    If you would like to know about choosing the best wood for wood signs you can look at my post –What Is The Best Wood For Wood Signs
  • Tools – Tools these days, especially in woodworking can be expensive to purchase. You can find other sources for tools if they are used. Estate sales, classifieds or going out of business sales are great resources for tools you may not be able to afford when you are just starting.
  • Shop Items – Things like work benches, wall organizers, lighting and mats are items not typically mentioned when you read about woodworking. Consider contacting any local business to see what they may be getting rid of and if you can get them very cheap or even for free.

As will all hobbies or businesses you need to start somewhere. Being creative in your efforts to acquire the right tools and items need to work for you in your woodworking projects is key.

If you are looking for a great resource for a variety of woodworking resources you can look here. This is a great list and reference I’m sure you will visit more than you know.

Time Of The Day

The best time for working your woodworking project in your apartment really depends on where you live, are you working out on your balcony, what tools you are using at the time and if you are using power tools.

The best suggestion is to look at your woodworking projects and what you need to complete them. If you are able to complete most of your tasks without making loud noises then you would most likely be able to work on your woodworking projects anytime.

However, if you use power tools or you may have fumes for example from sealing or painting, you may need to consider your neighbors. If you have a rapport with your neighbor’s talk to them about your woodworking efforts and ask them what their schedule is and the best time to make a little noise.

Once you are aware of and have worked out a schedule, ensure you complete all or most of your cutting or loud power tool usage during that time. If you have many woodworking projects then make many copies and cuts to have the raw product off the side so you can take advantage of the other times to work on them.

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