Woodworking in an apartment – tips & tricks

Woodworking out of an apartment is quite a bit different from woodworking in a house where you have access to a driveaway, garage or backyard. Not only do you have limited space, but you also have neighbors who might not be very appreciative of the amounts of noise your power tools will generate. That’s why the very first step should be to get landlord approval and of course never use your tools at night or early in the morning. 

Assuming your landlord had permitted you to start woodworking in your apartment, there are still quite a few things to consider. 

Woodworking in an apartment

Have you considered other options?

How set are you on starting a woodshop from your apartment? If you are, you can skip this section. 

Just because you live in an apartment, doesn’t necessarily mean you are limited to this space alone. There are many other options you could consider. For example, does your apartment have an underground parking space? You could look into setting up your power tools there to avoid noise complaints. This, of course, requires landlord approval. 

Another option is to rent a garage nearby. If you look around your area you will surely find some affordable options. Working from a garage would solve many problems that come with apartment woodworking. Such as dust collection, noise complaints, and storage space to name a few. Depending on how serious you are about woodworking, this might be your best bet.

What about a quick google search for woodworking clubs in your area? This would also be a good way to find like-minded people nearby. 

Tools for woodworking in an apartment – Think Small

When woodworking from a small space, you need to get a bit creative. Unless you’re Bill Gates or Elon Musk, you probably don’t have space for large equipment. So when choosing your equipment, think small. For example, while most portable table saws are made to be compact, I still wouldn’t want to have one set up in my apartment. For my ripping needs, I would instead opt for a handheld circular saw. 

Same goes for a miter saw, if you like myself have many trim jobs to do I would opt for something lightweight and portable like the DeWalt DWS715 that I can easily move on to my balcony and clear out once I’m finished. Another good option to consider is to check out cordless options for power tools, these are often a lot less noisy than their corded counterparts. 

Read also: Best miter saw 2020

Dust Control is important!!

Power tool generated sawdust not only makes your apartment messy, but it also has some health issues coming with it. Your lungs do not appreciate the chemicals coming from breathing in sawdust. Therefore it is very important you take the proper measures in ensuring you have the best dust collection possible in your apartment. A regular vacuum won’t cut it, you need a professional shop vac to keep your area dust-free.

When operating power tools inside a small space like an apartment, an air filtration system is a must. So if you have no way of going out on the balcony or down to the underground garage for your power tool use, you’re going to need to invest in an air filtration system. To protect you and your family from any health-related issues. Get something like the WEN 3410 3-Speed Remote-Controlled Air Filtration System. 

Apartment Woodworking Setup: Storage, dust collection, noise control 

A very important thing for you to consider is where you will set up your equipment. Are you going to store everything and take it out once you need it? Are you creating a designated space in your apartment for your woodshop? What will you do about the noise and the sawdust? These are questions you should ask yourself before diving in. 

You have to consider storage. And how limited your storage will be. In an apartment, every square inch is a premium so you don’t want to hold on to tools you do not use. For this Lemongrasspicker has an interesting video on youtube. 

I recommend you check it out if you’re one of those hoarders that can’t throw anything away. In the video, he explains the backpacker-influenced idea of putting tape on each and every single tool in your shop. Whenever you use a tool, you remove said tape. This a great way to keep track of exactly which tools you should and shouldn’t be keeping around.

When buying wood: figure out the dimensions you’re going to require and buy them as close to these dimensions as possible. Most home centers will provide a service to cut your wood for you for an extra fee. 

apartment woodworking noise

Noise concerns with apartment woodworking

When woodworking from your apartment, you will need to be considerate of your neighbors. Power tools cause a lot of noise. Always try to keep your power tool usage to a minimum, use hand tools where possible and consider soundproofing options. 

Step one is talking to your neighbors, explain to them what you do for a living or hobby. Explain why there might be noise and answer any questions or concerns they may have. Make friends with them! Limit your woodworking to only a few days in a week and do most of your woodworking during the day, between 10 am and before 5 pm. This way, most of your neighbors will be out for work and you won’t be bothering as many people. 

Conclusion

Let’s be real, apartment woodworking isn’t the most ideal setup. But with the proper approach, using smaller tools, proper dust collection equipment, and not annoying any neighbors you can go a long way. Hopefully, you can take away a thing or two from this article and can get started on your apartment woodshop without too many concerns.

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