From the Archives
Greg’s Apartment Work Shop
Submitted by Greg from Brooklyn, NY
Added on May 28, 2015
I love seeing all the shop variations! Virtually all have some limitations and I really appreciate how folks adapt. Here’s my adaptation story. I live in a 10th floor, 3 bedroom apartment (with an elevator) in Brooklyn with my wife and 4 cats. The apartment is fairly spacious by city standards so we’re fortunate. My wife uses one bedroom for her home gym and I have another room for my wood shop/office/bike shop.
The room is about 10’x 18′; one side is the shop area and the other is my office. The upper shop walls are covered with a slat wall product that I absolutely love. It looks way better than pegboard and is infinitely adjustable. You might notice that I made many of the storage bits myself. I have a Dewalt job site tablesaw with a thin kerf blade that substantially reduces noise; it sits on a shop made rolling stand. When I need to do a lot a cutting, I wheel the rolling unit out to the apartment balcony and share whatever sawdust the Shop Vac missed with the neighborhood. My miter saw is the Swedish Nobex 180; it is very accurate and fun to use in an old school way. The assembly table is a tiny apartment dining table retrofit from Gothic Cabinet Craft; the top flips over, doubles in size and is dead flat if you can believe it.
Hey, is that a Janome sewing machine under the table? – yeah, another creative hobby started a year ago. The 4 bikes include a vintage Colnago and a custom carbon fixed gear beauty that I built up about 5 years ago. The bookshelf was built on site (sheets cuts down at the local box box store) and the desktop is Norm-inspired hardboard over MDF wrapped with hard maple left over from a kitchen remodel. The right side of the desk drawers contains all my bike tools and parts.
I’ve built bookcases, headboards, side tables and lots of odd pieces in this little urban shop. If anyone knows about apartment living, there’s no attic, basement or garage for spillover storage but you still have the need for it. My room serves this function as well so we have to be absolutely ruthless with all of our keep/discard/giveaway decisions.
One of the pics is of me and Norm Abram chatting in front of the This Old House Brooklyn Brownstone Project in 2009 (taken from a TOH project web camera). What? How? The general contractor on that job did the renovation in our apartment in 2004. Knowing my interest in such things, he invited me over one morning during the TOH shoot. Norm had just finished his segment and had plenty of time on his hands and was happy to spend an hour chatting with me. It was delightful; he is exactly the same person on television–down to earth, personable and warm. Big thrill for me of course and I invited him over to see how city woodworkers manage in small spaces but it was getting close to another segment and film crew booted me from the set.
From the Archives