I call myself “The Apartment Woodworker”. But, really, nowadays, I’m the “small space woodworker”. Which doesn’t sound as cool, but it still pretty accurate (my workshop where my workbench and tool chest reside is a 12×13 bedroom). But after all these years of woodworking (8ish?), I’ve finally figured it out: the setup for woodworking in an apartment or other small space like a proper woodworker.
Without hyperbole, I feel like I’ve reached the apex of the intellectual exercise of small space woodworking. It starts with the Apartment Workbench, which is constructed entirely from 10 or less home center 2×4’s and built basically like a heavy-duty sawbench. Although the saw-bench construction might make the bench a bit tippy if the legs are too far in from the ends, the vertical legs might have a benefit: the design makes it easy to clamp onto the gussets.
When you add a couple of shop made sawhorses in the Japanese style, some F-style clamps, and maybe a strip of 3/4 plywood for a tool tray, you’ve apparently got an actual workbench. The gusset on the legs clamps to the cross beam of the sawhorse (both front and back) and that’s your workbench. Some lumber stored across the lower stretchers would add to the mass of the bench, but it’s not strictly necessary. And I’d probably add some non-skin disks to the sawhorses to make sure you’re not sliding around on a slick, laminate apartment floor.
But, all in all, it works as well as I could hope. It’s not perfect, as the combined height of a typical sawhorse (29″) and a 2×4 slab (3.25″ or so) is uncomfortable for much besides hand planing. But one can always clamp on whatever workholding you need beyond the palm, such as a moxon vise. I prefer a bench around 34.75″ high for most work (I’m exactly 5’10”), btw.
But, as far as I can tell, this is absolutely serviceable for a small space woodworking bench. It’s basically a Japanese planing bench, with some Western brute force adjustments.
Although I would recommend chopping mortises at the back end over the back sawhorse. For whatever reason, it jumps less when you chop on the back than the front.
Maybe it was just the grass.