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The Editors Mailbox

Woodworking in a New York City Apartment

comments (12) January 9th, 2009 in blogs

sscott Stephen Scott, associate editor
thumbs up 81 users recommend

Matts bathroom workshop. Be careful reaching for the soap...
When not in use, Matts tools liven up the front room.
Lumber storage at the front door.
A component of Matts dust-collection system.
Some samples of Matts work.
Matts bathroom workshop. Be careful reaching for the soap... - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Matt's bathroom workshop. Be careful reaching for the soap...

Photo: Matt Paldy

Matt Paldy lives in a small place. His studio apartment on Manhattan’s upper west side measures 14’ by 19’. Within those 266 square feet, though, he’s managed to make room for his hobby.


Last week, Matt sent these photos of his 5’ x 5’ bathroom woodshop, where he makes boxes, serving trays and other small items. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to post them here. Here’s what he says about his set-up:


“I move individual tools, such as the band saw, drill press, Dewalt DW745 tablesaw, and router table in and out of the bathroom as I need them. I made a workbench that straddles the tub. I store the tools against a wall when I'm not using them, and make a sad attempt to cover them with a sheet to make them less of an eyesore.”


He describes the process as "arduous," but says the extra effort is worth it. 


"Woodworking, even in the constraints of the bathroom, gives me an escape from the stress of living in Manhattan. Manhattan is a city that favors disposable items and it's easy to become disconnected from nature, the earth, wood, and the pleasure and appreciation of making something by hand."


For a closer look at Matt's work, check out his website here. He told me he also plans to try selling some of his pieces outside the Museum of Natural History on weekends. If you're in the city, you might stop by for a look.




posted in: blogs, workshop, box

Comments (12)

lund_fisher lund_fisher writes: I started woodworking on a deck on the back of our 1.5 story house in October. Here in western Canada, October nights get quite cold, often bordering on freezing temps. My first project was a primitive cabinet assembled entirely without glue (too cold for glue). My next workshop was a 10 x 10 bedroom in our basement. Here I built a massive entertainment unit from recycled Douglas Fir from a train boxcar floor. It was so large in the small shop that I had to move tools around just to squeeze myself around the project! Ultimately, we moved to a country home where I filled the 2 car garage with my woodworking tools.
I'll never forget moving day when my wife called me at the new house explaining that the movers couldn't get my entertainment unit out of the basement! I rushed back and hauled out my recip saw and cut my masterpiece in two! I almost cried, but I didn't have time to. The mover was charging me a hundred dollars an hour.
I love the determination of a dedicated woodworker!
Beautiful boxes by the way!!
Posted: 10:34 pm on January 22nd

tim_interior tim_interior writes: Love it. My bathroom is floor to ceiling with sheleves of hardware and finishes, and I often do sanding & more in there.
Posted: 10:35 am on July 4th

Aphyosemion Aphyosemion writes: Wow, and I thought having to work in half a 2 car garage was cramped!!
Posted: 5:50 pm on July 18th

GHimes GHimes writes: Now I have a reason not to remodel the bathroom...
Posted: 2:29 pm on December 16th

3pinner 3pinner writes: Now THAT's being resourceful!
I can tell you're not married either :-)
Posted: 6:36 pm on February 25th

arfurm arfurm writes: I'll never complain about my shop space again. I have just one suggestion, Matt. Just be sure you don't have your sandpaper supply close to the TP roller. Ouch -- not fun!!
Posted: 12:43 pm on February 25th

MakevilleStudio MakevilleStudio writes: Love the bathroom shop!
I'll second the recommendation for Rosenzweig Lumber in the Bronx. And I've had several folks building projects in my shop with lumber from ML Condon--they were very happy with waht they found up there.
By the way, if you are a woodworking enthusiast in NYC, short on space (who isn't?), and are looking for a place to learn and build stuff, check out Makeville Studio in Brooklyn (
Posted: 9:09 am on February 25th

fshanno fshanno writes: I feel ashamed. I'll never complain about working in a two car garage again.
Posted: 8:59 am on February 25th

Lincolnman Lincolnman writes: Matt's shop is a riot. Only a true lover of woodworking (like me) would understand why anyone would do that. But then I looked at the picture of the boxes! Enviable work! I hope you'll be able to progress onto a bigger bathroon soon!
Posted: 6:24 am on February 25th

view10 view10 writes: Matt: I can relate. I lived for years in a Manhattan apartment and had an very understanding wife who put up with the noise and the dust. I did, however, develope good hand tool skills because they didn't bother my neighbors. Now I live in a house (Bronx) and have a "real" shop in the basement. My challenge is that is long but very narrow -- barely 10' wide. Sort of like the guy whose shop is in the RV! :-)
Posted: 11:39 am on February 24th

view10 view10 writes: Two places that I know. M.L. Condon in White Plains, where I shop and Rosensweig in the Bronx. I'm in Riverdale, which is more convenient to White Plains, believe it or not. I have not been to the latter, but am told it is great. Both charge for delivery unless you have a way to go get it. Happy hunting.
Posted: 11:35 am on February 24th

zchris zchris writes: I'm new to the city and I'm trying to find a location for good quality hardwood. I'm looking to build some large furniture pieces. Any suggestions?

Posted: 8:27 pm on January 19th

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