Woodworking When You Live In An Apartment

Man doing small woodwork hobby projects in apartment room.

Do you know that you can set up a small woodworking shop even if you live in an apartment? Well, that was precisely what one of my woodworking friends did a couple of months ago when he moved out of his parents’ house. Moving to an apartment, he immediately set up a small workshop in one of the vacant rooms. Yet, let me tell you frankly that it is not easy to set up a workshop in an apartment, and there are obvious limitations to what you can do inside your apartment. 

Of course, if you are like me, used to having a spacious workshop, you will be struggling at the start. But you can surely manage if you carefully plan and scale down your projects. Moreover, it will be best to prepare yourself for possible reprisals from your neighbors who may howl in protest once they hear even the slightest noise and notice a little dust coming out of your apartment.

Potential Issues to Deal With

Effective people, of course, plan everything before setting out on a project. Similarly, it will be useful to plan everything before you endeavor to build your makeshift shop inside your apartment. Planning necessitates anticipating the potential risks and problems and knowing how to overcome those risks and concerns. 

Here are some problems that you need to address beforehand. First, there are noise restrictions that most cramped apartment owners may impose on their tenants. Second, there is a space limitation. Moreover, there’s also the dust problem, which may be one of the issues you need to overcome. Plus, there is an inadequate power requirement that will prevent you from using more powerful tools. 

However, if you are hell-bent on having a small workshop in your apartment, you will always find a way to achieve it. And if being an artisan runs in your blood, you will indeed find time to practice the art form that you deeply love.

Other Limitations

You cannot, for example, use power tools because of the noise that they create. Yet, to be an effective woodworker, you will need a sturdy workbench to support the materials you will work on. Even if you are not using power tools, you will end up with dust flying all over your place. If you can’t control the movement of dust, you will end up with complaining neighbors. 

You can’t also bring your materials outside for sanding because your neighbor will know that you are doing something inside. Moreover, if your project is large-scale, you will find it hard to bring it out after you’ve finished it. Yet, with proper planning, you can minimize all these potential problems.

Best Practices & Guidelines On Setting Up A Woodworking Workspace In Your Apartment

The most significant limitation you may encounter comes from noise. You can’t hide the noise of using drills or any electric tools. You can’t suppress the vibrations created by your hand saw. Moreover, you can’t also smother the sound of a hammer unless you could soundproof your workshop well. So, more often, you will need to choose the time when you would do woodworking. Here are some succinct tips on how to engage in woodworking in your apartment the right way:

1) Select the Right Room

During the planning process, you first need to select the room that is most appropriate for woodworking. Make sure that this room is not adjacent to the walls of your neighbors. Once you’ve chosen the room, you need to clear out that room of any unnecessary equipment and things. Once emptied, you can take a hard look at the open space and plan where you are going to set up your essential woodworking tools. 

The most recommended size for a workshop, of course, is 125 square feet. A minimum requirement for a workshop, however, is 75 square feet. You should also ensure that you have an extra room for storing your lumber.

2) Do Some Soundproofing of the Room

Since the primary issue that may arise from having a workshop in your apartment is the noise issue, you need to do some soundproofing muffle the noise. The best thing to do is to cover the space with materials that absorb sounds as a precautionary measure to minimize the risks of your neighbors’ complaints. 

Just like when creating a home recording studio, you can use soundproofing panels from the nearest local hardware. Hang these panels on the room’s walls to ease the impact of the noise on the walls. Moreover, you can use insulation sheet boards to insulate noise and sounds. Regarding insulation sheet boards, you should buy the thickest sheet if you can afford it. Afterward, it will help if you would cover the openings of that room with these sheets.

You can also add some thick curtains, blankets, or foam to improve the room’s soundproofing. You can also make use of bookcases to minimize the bouncing of sounds.

3) Protect the Flooring and the Surfaces

You should invest in some fabric drop cloths to protect furniture from dust. While you work, sawdust will fly all over the place. So, having a fabric drop cloth can help protect your machines and furniture. It will be best if you would protect the floor from damages likewise. The best way to protect the floor from damages is to cover it with plywood. The plywood will also let you walk through it safely while protecting the floor from accidental drops of tools.

4) Check Out the Tools that You Will Need

When you scale down your workshop to fit your apartment, you will also scale down your tool choices. It will be best if you give up your power tools. Yet, if you want to jar your neighbors and become the most hated man in the neighborhood, you can try to use power tools. Yet, I bet you would have the decency not to do it. 

Therefore, at the onset, you need to carefully choose the tools to fit nicely into your apartment workshop. It will be best if you would opt for more hand tools instead of power tools. You can still have a band saw or trim router. But it may mess up your well-thought plans. So, you must be very careful when weighing your options, like choosing between using a table saw and a circular saw.

5) Choose Lightweight and Cordless Tools

The lightweight cordless tools are excellent choices for such a workshop. Given a choice between corded and cordless, you should always go for cordless types of devices. Check always for a cordless version of every tool you are going to use. 

You can indeed find cordless circular saws and drills. The good thing about cordless tools is that they are handy and lighter to carry around. Plus, you can free yourself from the limiting cords that corded tools have and save you from any accidental trip. Moreover, they usually emit less noise compared to their corded counterparts.

6) Storage of Your Tools

To unclog your workshop room, you need to set up another room for storage. You can stack away your tools, materials, and workbench in that room when you are not engaged in work. However, you can skip this requirement if your workroom is spacious enough to accommodate your tools and materials. 

If you don’t have another usable room for storage, you can utilize the space in your balcony. You can stack away in your balcony those materials that you will not be using. You can maximize the use of any empty closet inside your house for storage. A good tip would be not to store materials that you would not be using.

7) Make Room for Good Ventilation

If your room has large windows, you can always open them when working on something. However, it will be best if you would avoid using fumy stains, polyurethane, and shellac that emit harmful odors. It will also help if you close the doors but leave the windows open. 

If you can use more natural finishes, you should go for them. Remember that good ventilation is necessary to protect you from health risks. So, as much as possible, when working inside your workroom, you should ensure that it is properly ventilated.

8) Dust Containment

Another big problem that may put you in hot water when doing woodworking inside your apartment is dust. Dust is a safety concern that you should meticulously address. Dust will pose a significant risk to your health and those around you. So, you must develop a master plan to contain dust to its minimum level while engaged in woodworking. You can use a dust collector to collect the dust particles. 

You can readily get rid of one of the main issues involved in engaging in woodworking in your apartment if your work will produce less or no dust at all. So, if you can avoid producing dust, it would be better.

Moreover, since you would minimize the use of power tools, you can always reduce dust production. Yet, if your work produces dust, you should ensure that your workroom is sealed to prevent dust from coming out. It will be best to have a dust collector at hand or buy tools that come with a dust collection feature.

9) Choose Your Projects

The best thing to avoid the risks of being reported by your neighbors to authority is to choose the projects that you will take, considering your limited space. It will be best if you scale down your tasks to those manageable projects, given your limited working tools and equipment. Moreover, with small-scale projects, you will not need to haul large boards and lumbers inside your apartment. 

So, keep your work small. Small jobs will produce less dust and noise. With less dust and noise, you are already on your way to minimizing the risks of getting your neighbors’ ire. You will also need not many bulky materials for such projects. Plus, you will have no problem bringing your finished projects out of your house.  

There are myriads of small projects that can showcase your woodworking skills. Examples of such projects include chairs, stools, cribs, vases, candleholders, and many more. You can work on these small-scale projects and eventually monetize your woodworking skills. It will be best if you remember that there is a good market for the abovementioned items.

10) Choose the Wood Materials to Work On

Your choice of materials will factor well in the success of your woodworking undertakings. Hence, it will help a lot if you carefully choose the materials you are going to use. You can use custom boards that you can buy online or from the local store. Using these custom boards is a more practical option if you don’t want to draw your neighbors’ attention to what you are doing. 

Custom-sized wood boards will not require you to cut much. Moreover, you can save time and effort if you buy custom-made wood and boards. Your local lumberyard will do the dirty job for you by cutting the lumbers for you. Moreover, you can also buy boards and sheets that are custom-made for your specific project.


The daunting restrictions you need to overcome when engaging in woodworking inside your apartment may deter you from pursuing your love for woodworking. The odds are great, and you may end up hated by your neighbors and even by your companions in your apartment. 

But if you will carefully plan everything and will be mindful of the abovementioned tips, you could surely go on with your woodworking projects without being anxious about drawing the attention or ire of your neighbors.

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