One of the things I wanted to prove with Saws on Skates is you don’t need a huge workshop to build quality DIY furniture. But what if you don’t even have a small workshop? What if you don’t have a workshop at all, can you still build furniture? YES, YOU CAN! Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to build DIY furniture when you don’t have a workshop.
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This post is geared towards those of you who want to DIY, but don’t have a typical place to build. No workshop, no basement, no garage, etc. Today we’re going to think outside the box, or rather outside the workshop. Where there’s a will to build DIY furniture, there’s a way!
5 Places to Build DIY Furniture When You Don’t Have a Workshop
The Buddy System
You have probably heard about the buddy system when kids go on a field trip, but what about the buddy system when building? It’s definitely a thing! Do you have a buddy with a workshop? Most friends would be happy to have you build with them in their workshop.
A couple of reminders when building in a buddy’s workshop. If you wanted to be invited back be sure to treat their tools better than you would treat your own. Be sure to pick up and leave the workshop neater than when you found it. Want to guarantee you’ll be invited back? Buy your buddy a tool as a thank you gift for allowing you to use their workshop. A six-pack of your buddy’s favorite beer works too, but safety first, no drinking while DIYing. Oh, if your buddy is a craft beer fan they would appreciate a DIY growler carrier as a gift!
Deluxe Apartment in the Sky
Do you live in an apartment and think you can’t build DIY furniture? Think again! Do you have a balcony or deck? Then you have a makeshift workshop! My buddy Jamie lives in a small apartment in California and his apartment has a balcony. You may remember me talking about Jamie when he visited for a few camping trips. On one trip we made these DIY Coffee Container Tiki Statues and on another camping trip, we made these DIY Flower Power Bus Planters.
On a trip when I went to visit him at his apartment we built a “potty patch” for his dog. The base was an automotive oil change tray. We cut cedar boards with a miter box and handsaw. Then we wrapped the pan with the boards. Jaime doesn’t have a Kreg Jig, so I actually had to use nails for assembly. I can’t remember the last time I had to use a hammer and nails to assemble a project LOL Then we placed a piece of sod in the pan. The potty patch was great for his pup to do his business in between walks around town.
On another trip, we renovated a small craigslist sideboard into a kitchen island. Again, we cut some boards using the miter box and handsaw to make a box. We screwed the box to the top of the sideboard. Then we added some corbels like these to the back of the sideboard. The box and corbels supported a wood IKEA countertop. Lastly, we painted the sideboard black. It turned out really slick!
While we didn’t build any DIY furniture from scratch, we totally could have! All you need is a miter box and handsaw (or a small miter saw) and a Kreg Jig. In the market for a pocket hole jig? Check out this post to see why I’m in love with the Kreg Jig K5. If you’re new to pocket hole joinery don’t leave before checking out my 9 pocket hole mistakes you don’t want to make.
What if you don’t have a balcony or deck? Can you build in the parking lot? Before you drag your tools out to the parking lot be sure to ask the building superintendent if it’s OK if you work out there. Be sure to pick up, sweep up and leave the area looking better than when you started. You want to make sure you can build there again.
Join the Club
Do you have a woodworking club in your area? Do a quick google search and find out. In this post about improving your DIY skills, I shared that my local woodworking club offers monthly newsletters, monthly meetings, an annual woodworking show and an annual wood/tool auction. In addition to that, some woodworking clubs have open shop time where you can use their workshop to build your DIY furniture projects.
Not only that, but you’ll meet people in your area who are into DIY projects just like you. You might just make a friend who will allow you to build in their workshop! The annual dues for my local woodworking club is a bargain at only $25!
On one of my trips to visit Jamie in California we drove by a place called the “The Sawdust Shop.” Of course, I yelled out “STOP THE CAR!” The Sawdust Shop was a woodworking store in the front with every woodworking tool imaginable, but in the back was a workshop.
For a fee, the workshop was available to the public to build their DIY furniture projects. If you weren’t able to finish your project in one visit “cages” were available to store your project until your next visit. What a great idea for people who don’t have a place to build!!! While researching this post I was disappointed to learn The Sawdust Shop has closed permanently.
Continuing my research I found links to other community woodworking shops in this “Rent a Shop” article from woodworkingsiteonline.com and this “Attack of the Community Woodshop” article by Fine Woodworking. Do you have a community woodworking shop in your area? If you do, I would love to hear about it! Please contact me here with the details.
The Great Outdoors
Do you own a home without a basement or garage, but you have a driveway or yard? Let’s build in there! You don’t need a shelter, but my pasty white skin will incinerate in the sun, so I would recommend a shelter. I like an E-Z Up because I’ll use it for more than just for DIYing. An E-Z Up is great for providing shade at a party or while camping. Plus, they don’t take up much space. Chances are you’ll have space for it in a closet.
Want a more permanent solution? Do you have a shed? Can you clear some space to work in there? If you don’t have a shed, do you have space in your yard for a shed? Let’s build a shed for our DIY furniture projects! You could design and build your own or the big box stores have shed kits with everything you need to build.
Rent a Space
Ok, so you don’t have a buddy with a workshop, you can’t build at your apartment, your woodworking club doesn’t offer shop time, you don’t have a community woodworking shop in your area and you don’t have a yard, what do you do now? What about renting a garage?
I see garages for rent all the time on craigslist for $25-$30 per month. Renting a garage could be cost prohibitive, but if you plan to build DIY furniture projects often it could be the perfect option for you.
Before signing a lease be sure to ask the owner if it’s OK to build in the garage. Make sure the garage has power outlets and that you’re allowed to use the power. Also, be sure the garage is close to your home. If the garage is too far from your home the chances increase that you won’t go there to build. For me, I would be good with a 10-15 minute drive. Anything more than that and I’ll probably convince myself not to go.
If you’re building at a buddy’s house or your local woodworking club you probably won’t have to be concerned about tools. Chances are they will have everything you need to build your DIY furniture project.
But if you’re building in the parking lot of your apartment or in your driveway you’ll want an assortment of quality cordless tools. If you’re just starting to DIY and you don’t have a huge tool arsenal buying used tools is a great way to build your tool collection. In this post, I share the Dos and Don’ts of Buying Used Tools.
Building on the ground is literally backbreaking work, so you’ll need a workbench. A workbench, like my DIY folding workbench, doesn’t take up much space, so it’s a great option for those who live in an apartment and those of us who work in the driveway or yard. Set it up when you need it then fold and store when you’re done.
If you have a more permanent area like a shed or if you’re renting a garage a fliptop workbench is great option to maximize your workspace. You can mount a tool on one side then flip the top to use the workbench for assembly. Get the free DIY fliptop workbench plans here.
If you think you can’t build DIY furniture because you don’t have a workshop, think again! There are so many options from building at a buddy’s house to building on your balcony. From joining a woodworking club to joining a community woodworking shop. The old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” still holds true!
If you don’t have a workshop, where do you build? Share your “no workshop” building areas with me in the comments.
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