Jay’s “3 Bedroom” Workshop

This is a rather unique shop location. My day job is maintenance at an apartment complex. They had a spare 3 bedroom apartment that they were using as storage when I took the job. I removed all the trash, cleaned it up, put my tools in and have since called it “my shop.” As you can tell, this is a function over fashion type of shop.

When you first walk in you are in the living room, better known as the assembly area. I keep this 12’x 12′ area relatively free to accommodate larger project assembly. It is also really handy to have a space for plywood breakdown before it hits the table saw.

Moving right to left you will start in on my miter saw area. The dining room has a small coat closet that works great for a miter saw location. For material support I use a small bi-fold door to give slightly more than 6′ of support to the left. For material support on the right I use a salvaged sink base cabinet with casters on the bottom. This allows me to support longer stock by simply sliding the cabinet around. I like this method a lot better than having a dedicated support cabinet/shelf that may at some point be in the way.

Right to left again, the kitchen area is where I store most of my “junk”, finishes, and chemicals. This area stays in a state of organized chaos so I figured I would leave it as is for the picture. Having access to a sink in the shop is something I have grown very fond of. When the time comes to build my own shop I will definitely have some type of running water in it. I also have my modified Harbor Freight dust collector in the kitchen. To eliminate the need for a decent canister filter I modified the unit to incorporate a the in baffle right below the motor and ported the exhaust air outside. The duct work is half 4″ Sewer and Drain PVC and half 4″ flexible hose. This runs back to the miter saw, out to the table saw station, and into the hallway for my planer station.

The table saw station is a simple half lap 2×4 skeleton. It houses my Porter-Cable PCB270TS table saw and my dual router setup. I purchased plans for a homemade router lift and am extremely satisfied with the results. I have two routers on separate lifts for less money than one manufactured lift (routers included). This station is on casters as well to allow for easy shop changes. I also have 2 other small shop carts on casters for wheeling material around during a build.

I recently moved my planer into the hallway and am really glad I did so. This gives me plenty of infeed and outfeed support. It is stationed on top of a reused dresser that I found. I also have some reused cabinets above that are great for storage that is not accessed often.

The bedroom at the end of the hall is where I store my lumber scraps and my air compressor. I have the compressor in a closet which keeps the noise down considerably in the main work area. I also like this because I can just throw the hose out of the back window and spray finishes outside. The hallway is also where I store my clamps, levels, and straight edges. The other two bedrooms are full of doors and other supplies for my day job.

Moving along we are back at the entry door. I store all of my jigs and patterns along this wall. Its amazing how quickly they can add up. I also store my stackable saw horses behind the door. These get used daily. When the time comes for me to move I will be building my first actual standalone shop. In the mean time, I am grateful to have access to this unique shop space.


  1. Dale Halvorson July 25, 2013

    I like Jays 2×4 creations… he is a creative guy with a unconventional shop

  2. Eric Rusch July 25, 2013

    I have to admit, it’s the first one of it’s kind that I’ve seen.
    Nice job Jay.

  3. Denny July 25, 2013

    I would rather have a table saw in the dining room than a regular table too! Love it!

  4. Dave July 25, 2013

    that’s pretty cool Jay, it’s nice that you have that space… since this is an apartment, do you have neighbors to worry about?

    • Thanks Dave. The shop is 1 of 4 units in a particular building. The other three are waiting to be renovated. None of the neighbors in adjacent buildings say they can hear anything. I don’t cut anything after 9pm to make sure I’m not accidently being rude.

  5. SirJotay July 25, 2013

    Wonder if you forfeit your security deposit if you do this as a tenant?

    Hrm, commerical rent or cheap apartment?

    Hope you got renter’s insurance.

  6. Ross P July 25, 2013

    I am confident that this is how my house would look if I wasn’t married.

  7. Tobias July 26, 2013

    Awesome Jay! Love your apartment set up!
    I especially like the dust collector under the range hood. You can use the hood as additional dust collector to increase efficiency, can’t you?!? ;-)

  8. Richard July 26, 2013

    It’s funny – I just discovered your YouTube and website the other day, and here you are on TWW. Small world! Great work on your shop. I admire your resourcefulness. I also seriously envy your setup every time I step into my garage. A couple of fans and an open garage door are not enough to keep Florida from trying to kill me. :)

  9. Jay- neat setup! Spent my ‘formative’ years in Starksville as a bulldog – now stuck in New Jersey…..keep up the good work! Rusty

  10. thomas Kaiser July 28, 2013

    My first shop was my main floor of my house. It made it very convenient on fixing up the house.

  11. Rob J (http://yahoo) August 2, 2013

    Love what you’ve done with the place! Great idea and great use of space. Now that is how you make a home work!!

  12. Jack in TN August 2, 2013

    When in college I thought it would be nice to have a house to live in and one for ‘projects’. But after being a homeowner, I like the idea of someone else mowing the lawn and dealing with ‘things’ :)

    Great shop.

  13. Don Vander Jagt August 3, 2013

    Nice Jay. I love how your shop has evolved. I thought about discussing with the wife repurposing of some spare rooms and living room into work areas, but I figure that would good about as bad as offering her diet pills. EeeYah.

    It is hot and muggy up here in West MI, I imagine it is beastly there.

    Thanks for the walk around, and keep up the great work.


  14. Roger August 3, 2013

    Now that’s about the best apartment I’ve ever seen.

  15. Jay, Great set-up. That’s like having your cake and eating it too.

  16. Great pictures Jay. I enjoy seeing your projects on the UFOWW.org forums!

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