Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?

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  1. Hi, I am living in an apartment with my mom currently, but would love to start hand tool woodworking. However, my concern is wood dust and shavings, especially with regards to my mom as she has some heart and breathing problems, and her immune system is compromised from having had surgery for breast cancer (lots of lymph nodes removed) and chemotherapy. Is there anyway to do hand tool woodworking but prevent dust and shavings from getting around? I would be doing it in my bedroom.



    1. Hey Kyle,

      I can completely empathize with you.

      1. Get a HEPA vac.
      I just use a small canister one. One of the perks of hand tool woodworking, is that you don’t generate as much dust as machine woodworking. However, we still generate dust.

      2. Start small.
      You don’t need to make book cases or guitars when you start. Try small boxes and other little presents, and work your way up. Your basic skills of joinery will apply to bigger things well. You may want to consider just starting on a collapsible saw horse/planing beam like the Japanese.

      3. Keep the tooling simple
      Get a fine diamond stone. Get a smoother plane (mujingfang are surprisingly nice). Get one or two good chisels. Get a square. Get a marking knife, a utility knife works fine). Oh, and get a saw. I recommend a Dozuki with replaceable blades.

      4. Consider doing it outdoors.
      A simple piece of wood with some screws can act as a planing board on saw horses.
      Combined with a few clamps, and you have a very effective platform for woodworking.
      If you’re outside, you don’t have to worry as much about dust collection.


  2. Hey AptWoodworker,

    Thanks for the great blog. You’re helping me with tons of ideas for bettering my tiny, apartment-confined shop.

    A quick question about noise, though: How do you handle the resonating noise from chopping mortises and other loud chisel work? Did you luck out and end up on the first floor, or have you managed to dampen the noise in some way? Maybe something else?

    Thanks for the help and the blog.


    1. Hi! Thanks for the kind words! I am glad you’re finding useful information here.

      That’s an interesting question that I struggle with as well. First and foremost, try and do your chopping during non-quiet hours. Also, ensure the work piece is fully supported to reduce vibration (sound is, after all, a pressure wave). In addition, since most apartment building doors are metal these days, try hanging a heavy blanket over the door to deaden the sound that leaks to the hallway (there are relatively inexpensive, professional soundproofing tapestries that serve the same purpose). And, finally, sharpen early and often to reduce the number of mallet blows it takes to chop a mortise!

      Hope this helps!



  3. Just stumbled upon your blog and am finding it very useful, I was beginning to become resigned to the fact my woodworking would be over as I’m moving from a house to a unit but thanks to you I’m now thinking it might be possible with some editing and working out a small but good looking bench. Keep up the good work !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. James, as someone who is just getting started (I have a pile of wood for a bench in my apartment bedroom ) I really enjoy and appreciate your blog! Hearing from someone closer to the beginning of the learning process than all of the guys with books and dvds and classes is incredibly helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I presume you’re aware that you could hang a lot more storage on the walls, from cabinets to heavy shelf brackets for wood storage. With french-cleat mounting, the number of holes in the plaster can be kept to a minimum; make it a rail system and you can rearrange things without new holes. Though I admit there’s a lot to be said for open space!

    Liked by 1 person

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