Woodworking without a shop

This isn’t a project post, but it contains useful information to do some projects without having a shop.

For the first few years I didn’t have any workshop. I haven’t have a basement and I had no possibilty to rent one. As for my town, there’s no “makerspace”. Still I wanted to do some projects with a small set of tools.

As you can see below, you can start woodworking without a workshop or a lot of power tools. All you need is an easy cleanable room (in my case, it was the kitchen), a stool and some tools.

Woodshop in the kitchen

I set up a toolbox, and made place for my workshop in my kitchen. It’s not the optimal environment, we all know that saw dust and spray paint is bad for our health. So I made sure to put away all the food and dishes before I started to work.  I also used precut wood and basic forms to avoid saw dust the best I could. For finish I mostly used wipe-on oil based finish.


  • Power drill
  • Impact driver
  • Screwdrivers
  • Japanese Saw
  • Glue
  • Clamps
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Wipe-on paint or oil finish
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Layout square
  • Bench hook
  • some kind of small bench
  • and simple jigs for clamping support

My tool set was very basic. I spent the most time with designing the products, which was usually some kind of a container, like the big colorful Lego box.

I let my hardware store cut all the plywood and I used precut wooden strips. I needed to cut the strips to length, and drill pilot holes for the screws, but the dust I produced was manageable. Sanding was of course a mess, so I always had my vacuum cleaner switched on next to me.

I just listened to the Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Podcast, where they discussed how to do woodworking in a small flat.

Later on I started to collect more hand tools (and some power tools, which I could not use in my home by the time), but I mostly managed to avoid chisels and hand planes. I also didn’t have a proper workbench to clamp the wood to I wanted to plane.

I started to use step stool as my bench, later created a toolbox container as a mobile workbench. It had clamping surface and a table for finishing. Also I could use my bench hook for cuting smaller parts.


As I said, most of my projects were some kind of containers. After spending hours or days to find a fitting container for the children’s room, the kitchen or anything else, I could put together a box out of plywood a lot faster which had the perfect fit and size.

I also made IKEA Hacks, like a DIY cabinet for IVAR bookshelves (which is already disassembled).

My “biggest” project from this time around was a prototype for a multi purpose children play-center – an artist’s easel, a chalkboard, a play kitchen, an indoor mud play and so on (I’m going to create an article around this topic soon).


Even if I couldn’t do big projects or something with “fancy” curves, it was possible to do something. I’m quite sure, that there are plenty of more project ideas around, that you can do with these basic tools.


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