Apartment Woodworking

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #141389
    Jeff Kocanjeffk
    Participant

    Hello, everybody–new member here, living in Brooklyn, New York.

    I’m new to hand-tool woodworking, and living in an apartment (with my wife and our three-year-old son), space is at a premium. Building a workbench may not be an option right now–and honestly, I don’t want to make that commitment until I’m sure this isn’t a passing interest.

    My primary problem is securing my work. I have access to our dining table and am considering something like the Sjobergs Smart Vise, which would allow me to work at the table during the day and then break it down so we can still have our meals together at night. Does anyone have experience with these? Does it seem up to the task of, say, planing and chisel work? Any other suggestions?

    I’ve also looked into a portable Moxon vise, which would give me the chance to raise my work surface even more, as the table surface is only at 30″.

    Are there other options I’m missing? Any advice would be appreciated!

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 28 total)
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    Replies
  • #141441
    Barry BoyleBarryB
    Participant

    @barryb

    I built a pair of these to start … worked well for me. A few clamps to hold stuff to the top when needed and off you go.

    A workbench anybody can build

    New Brunswick, Canada

    #141538
    Colevalleytim omahoneyColevalleytim
    Participant

    @colevalleytim

    Hey Jeff
    I work in my apartment as well. I’m single so I took over the dining area. I have a workbench and a shop vac. Pretty simple set-up

    Could you make a workbench, get a dolly that fits underneath so you can move it out of the way

    #141539
    plan00iplan00i
    Participant

    @plan00i

    I would say your biggest problem with using your table is that it lacks the weight to keep things stable. You need a heavy bench to keep it from moving while hand planing and chopping mortises.

    #141556
    David PerrottDavid Perrott
    Participant

    @dperrott

    I started with using my Ikea kitchen island. If you have some type of sturdy thing like that you can use bench hooks and so forth. There is always the folding workmate bench. I’m sure there is some makers space in Brooklyn, some of them have closed. They tend to be power tool things though. Thankfully I have room for a bench. I did make it a bit smaller. You could always make a smaller bench.

    #141592
    Hugo NottiHugo Notti
    Participant

    @hugonotti

    That vise looks nice and it will probably keep even big pieces in a firm grip. I would rather be concerned about the strength of the table you will clamp it to. But perhaps it can be converted to a bench vise later.

    When I started, I had a cheap folding bench, workmate style. It moved around a lot, so I often had so secure it with a foot or even sit on it. It is useful, but a nightmare, when planing large boards.

    I also worked on the floor often, using a wall as a stopper while planing boards, or seated on my workpiece while chiseling (with a cheap board underneath, to protect the floor). I do like the “body vise”, even on my workbench, and I still use the next wall to rest boards against. If you have a carpet in your living room, get a straw broom. If you need to clean up shavings, chips and sawdust, these brooms are very efficient. The vaccum cleaner is only needed for the last few bits of dust.

    Here and example of “body vising”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQZsPs7jaPE&index=1&list=PL6yG0ZTQ9Z7bGcp73KnPk-KC17uH1fG1L (not me). I haven’t seen him use a large vise ever, he doesn’t need one. Actually, body-vising is very common in Asia.

    Dieter

    Dieter

    #141931
    Jeff Kocanjeffk
    Participant

    @jeffk

    Thanks for the feedback, everybody. I did pick up the Sjobergs vise—it’s on its way now. I’m going to build a couple of Paul’s sawhorses and also see if Hugo’s body-vise techniques might work. I think I may aim to build a joinery bench sometime in the next year—a full-sized English-style workbench is probably too large for my space, but this is definitely something I can shoot for.

    #143491
    rodmezarodmeza
    Participant

    @rodmeza

    Hi Jeff,

    Just my 2 cents: I am building a mod of the Hammacher Schlemmer bench suited to my space. Just search images on Google to see pictures of the original.

    The up side is that you can make it smaller or larger and you can chose heavier woods (making mine out of hard maple wrapped in walnut). Oak is a good choice too.

    The real upside is that it is a disguised bench and most people would think its a regular dresser or chest of drawers.

    Another point in favor of this approach is that its excellent to try out your skills and you can afford to make small mistakes since its just a bench and it’s destined for the stress associated with woodworking.

    You can get decent plans at Lee Valley (I am not associated).

    Cheers,
    Rod

    #143493
    Larry GeibLarry Geib
    Participant

    @lorenzojose

    You could try something like this:

    Tabletop bench

    Clamps to any table or counter. You can just pick it up and put it under your bed when you aren’t using it.

    A nice little chest of drawers makes a great toolbox if you beef up the drawers and nobody will be the wiser. Put it on good rollers.

    Search the thrift shops.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Larry GeibLarry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Larry GeibLarry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Larry GeibLarry Geib.
    #143566
    Jeff Kocanjeffk
    Participant

    @jeffk

    Thanks for the feedback, everybody! I did end up going with that Sjobergs vise to start with—it clamps to our dining table with a single C-clamp and is secure for pretty much anything I throw at it, even light edge planing.

    [attachment file=143567]

    It’s far from ideal, but it lets me work on what I need to work on. I’ll eventually upgrade to my own bench, but this is a surprisingly workable solution if you’re willing to get creative!

    At the other end of the table I’ve got my sharpening station, which is pretty much identical to one that Christopher Schwarz recently posted about: a plastic home-store boot tray lined with masonite that can house my diamond plates, water stone, strop, and cloths. That gets stashed once it’s time for dinner.

    We’ve ended up keeping the vise itself attached to the table. After school, my three-year-old and I have fun boring holes through scraps with my 10″ ratchet brace!

    Attachments:
    #143612
    Evan Hiseyehisey
    Participant

    @ehisey

    A simple saw bench might also be really good for you. Not only can you work on it, when it is not in use for you it would make an intersting sitting bench/play bench in the apartment.I have started to use a Chinese Horse Bench I built for kung-fu practice as a low bench. Biggest advantage for these guys is they can take the abuse of chiseling and don’t upset the wife if you accidentaly cut in to it.

    The google bevy of beasts: https://www.google.com/search?q=saw+bench&espv=2&biw=1680&bih=984&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj13YPGs47RAhWJ3SYKHVJZD4sQ_AUIBygC

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

    #143787
    Jeff Kocanjeffk
    Participant

    @jeffk

    You know, that’s one of the next projects I plan to tackle. I’m torn between the Christopher Schwarz-style staked bench and the Minimalist Woodworker-style split version for ripping. I had originally wanted to build Paul’s sawhorses, but these lower benches would probably work a little better for me right now.

    #143791
    Peter GeorgePeter George
    Participant

    @pjgeorge

    Two saw benches are much more useful than one.

    The first one I made is loosely based on Tom Fidgen’s from the “Unplugged Workshop”. I made it from red oak, and it took me a few evenings.

    The second one is Vic Teslin’s from the “Minimalist Woodworker” which I made from pine in an afternoon.

    Both are 18 inches high and both have a split top, which I like.

    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"

    #160517
    Evan Hiseyehisey
    Participant

    @ehisey

    As much as I like Chris’s staked benches, the simple bulk would seem to preclude use in an apartment. I figure I should show what you can do even with a small proper bench. Out of frame is the shop vac I am “required” to use for clean up at regular intervals.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

    Attachments:
    #308965
    Paul Baylissprbayliss
    Participant

    @prbayliss

    Hi Jeff,

    I’ve had one of these for around 10 years: http://blumtool.com/?page_id=101

    I like it for what it is. It is a little on the light side at 55lbs and can occasionally travel with a deep cut with the plane or some harder grain. I am able to use a scrub plane on it quite successfully. Actually since I found Paul’s site the lubricating can and the hand sharpening technique the slipping is happening less and less. It packs away pretty small and has some innovative vices and clamping features.

    At $400 it’s a bit of an initial outlay, but it does get you working wood and building the projects you want to build. After 10 years I can say that at $40 a year it has paid for itself.

    I’m across the river in Hoboken, so if you wanted to come over and try it out that could be a possibility.

    Kind regards,
    Paul

    #312170
    Tom DaviesTom Davies
    Participant

    @thomashenry

    There are some interesting suggestions in this thread. I am in a similar position, but I have space to store a small workbench under the stairs. In the opinion of the forum, what’s the smallest practically useful size for a workbench?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 28 total)

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