Introduction: Workshop Space in a Rental Place

About: A Mother, Teacher, CRAFTER, creator, maker, outdoor enthusiast, student... I do not do well when I am bored so I do not let that happen easily... :)

Workshop space that works in an apartment

I live in a small 2-bedroom apartment along with two other adults and my son. As a multi- crafter I need a workshop space, but how to make it work without damaging the apartment and not allowing things like the propane torch to become too obvious.

Bear with me this is my first Instructable or even instructions for anything online.

Step 1: Before and After

The first image is the before image. As you can see, I had to do SOMETHING.... but being in an apartment means that I am not able to do any major changes to their stuff... The second 2 images are some of the pictures of where it is at now. I used MANY different ways of building shelves, storage racks, and cubbies that I want to share.

Step 2: Choose Your Project

Project Letters:

A = Basic Shelves and shell on the Desk

B= Hanging Storage Jars, hard to see from this pic but that helps.

C= Hammer Shelf

D= Tool Track and Peg Board. (really the same tricks for both, I am mainly focusing on the tool track)

E = Tool Holsters, for larger easy access tools, like my heat gun and corded drill

Step 3: A: Basic Shell and Shelves 1


the base


¾” Ply- Wood, we received this awesome ¾” plywood that were scraps from this trailer manufacturer thus the black traction on it. Really nice stuff.

Angle braces. We used several different sizes throughout this build.

Ways of cutting it, we used a Skill saw and a Saber Saw.

Lots of different size screws. PS. If you are fairly new to construction stuff out of wood I personally LOVE the square holed screws rather than the Philips, they grab a LOT easier.

Cordless Drill and Corded drill.


Step 4: A: Basic Shell and Shelves 2


Look at the materials you have and decide how strong your desk (foundation) is. I am using an old large wooden teacher’s desk. I love these things and they are strong. If your desk is not strong enough to support it, consider support beams that go all the way to the floor on the sides and back. Put together the outer shell.

The shell is how we began. We decided how high we wanted the back to be. Decide how far forward you want the sides to come, I did not want my work space to be enclosed more than half way from the back and the scraps that we were working with were a good width. Cut the top to the same length as the shell back. Make sure that the top was overlapping the 3 sides this will help support it.

Because we were working with scraps the side pieces are a little wider than the top one, so there is a small lip, I may have a use for that at some point.

We connected the sides to the back with Angle Braces at the very top edge to also support the weight of the top piece. If the plywood was not as strong as it is we would have added more supports I think.

As you can see now we have a giant open box. There was very little pre-thinking outside of general ideas. Therefore, once we made the shell, it was time to talk about shelves.

We used many ideas from the internet and my favorite ones have shape to their shelves and the shelves themselves got smaller toward working area.

2) Then we connected it to the top of
my desk. We started with small angle braces, which we switched out for ones that did not stick out into my working space as much. See the green circles on next step. This brace will change in future pictures.

Step 5: A: Basic Shell and Shelves 3

The first shelf in the blue circle has a lip in the next slide, because I want to put my pickle in it. This one needs to be placed with the shelf above it high enough that I can use my pickle pot in place. It will be moved as the arrow indicates later on because I goofed and cut a future shelf out upside down.

(Pickle is a basic solution that is warmed in a small crock-pot and used during soldering, and other metalwork)

3) We added lips to the pickle shelf, and moved the shelf to
the other side.

Eventually we will seal the inner seams with silicon in case of spills. This is to be where I keep liquids.

We will also cut out a hole where the green circle in the previous picture, this will be for the cord, but still deciding.

My wood cutting skills need work, so my wonderful hubby cut all of the strait things!!! I also did not include instructions on how to build this little shelf because I do not want to lead people astray.

Step 6: A: Basic Shell and Shelves 4

The additional shelves are designed not to cover that back

area, eventually I want to have a larger drill press and it will stand up there, so for now I am just going to put hooks there.

They are also designed to give me the most working space, the lower one is smaller and wraps inside the back of the shell where it will not get in the way of my work. The next one comes out a bit further but still out of my way. The top shelf is well above my head and so it just cuts strait across. We used angle braces to support the shelves. I did use different sizes to support the different parts. $$$ is tight so we went with the smallest that I could trust to support a substantial amount of weight.

In this image, I drew a sketch of the idea behind the shape of the shelves. The thick purple line is the larger second one up, and the dotted blue is the smaller bottom shelf. There will be a second shelf on the right. It took us a while to decide. (Ignore the vise and jars they come later.)

Step 7: B: Hanging Storage Containers

I bought a plastic storage caddy that just sucked. But I liked the idea of visible smaller

containers. The first picture is what I made, a series of clear screw top containers, the second picture is a picture of the original plastic storage caddy I bought. A student of mine will enjoy it for his computer bits and pieces!

Step 8: B: Hanging Storage Containers 1


Clear containers with strong screw on lids. I highly recommend Talenti Sorbetto and Gelato containers. They are not super expensive and they come filled with GREAT tasting ice cream and sorbet. The sweetest part of this whole build I think.


1) Empty the container YUM YUM!

2) Remove shelf if you already attached it…. Yup this is what happens to me when I start building things while still designing them. J

3) Trace out the covers of the jar lids onto the bottom of the shelf.

*You will want to leave space for storage under the containers that is easy to move, room between each container to get your fingers in to screw them in or take them out. If you snug them into the back corner, it is advised to leave a gap large enough to get the furthest one back out. See notes on diagram

I do not recommend making 2 rows unless you leave it clear underneath.

Step 9: B: Hanging Storage Containers 2

4) My pictures are for your benefit, but you will do this

into the bottom of the shelf. Not just into the air. Lay the cap down so that the top of the lid is laying where you want it on the bottom of the shelf. And Tack 2 small nails or tacks through the lid into the wood. These will prevent the cap from spinning as you are screwing on or off the container

5) over those tacks/nails you will place a washer centered, and then screw it into the wood. You will want a large washer for this, so that it will spread the force of taking the lid on and off.

6) Pick and choose what you will fill your containers with
and screw them in place.

Step 10: C: the Awesome Amazing Hammer Rack!!!!

Truth be told, my wonderful husband made this for me. I will treasure it.

He based the plan on various ones we saw in pictures of other people’s workshops.


¾” plywood or other strong wood.

A 1-2” wooden dowel or 2”x2” the length you want your hammer rack to be(I would have preferred the dowel but we were using what we had.

2: 4 prong T nuts see image

2: Matching bolts and washers.

Step 11: C: the Awesome Amazing Hammer Rack!!!! 1

1) Decide on length of

rack. Cut out the backboard to match this length. We made ours 4 inches taller than the rack itself, and about a foot lower so that it would be longer than my hammers handles. The entire rack is connected to this piece, and this piece is then connected to the desk. It is also wider than the top piece by 1” on each side so 12 “total. Is this required IDK but we did it this way to help us be able to attach it to the table well.

2) Cut out a top piece, that is wide enough that 2/3 of your
largest hammer will fit easily. Leave extra space if you want to make a spot for mandrels or large files. Again, the Top Piece is about 2 inches shorter lengthwise than the back piece. We like it this way, you may decide that you want it all the way to the end, your choice.

3) Cut the dowel the same length as the top piece

4) Drill a hole into the center of each end of the dowel the same diameter as the T nut. If your bolts are 2 inches then you want to drill about 1 ½ inches. You want plenty of space for you to tighten the bolt.

5) Place the T Nut into the hole, and whack it with a mallet to sink the teeth in.

Step 12: C: the Awesome Amazing Hammer Rack!!!! 2

6) Cut out the wings. They want to go out far enough to handle the dowel and about an inch further. They want to go down to almost the bottom of the Back Board. The outer top edge of the wings need to have matching oblong rectangular holes. A bit wider than the Bolts. Dan my husband made ours 2’long but he says now that he would only have done it about 1 ½ inches. In the picture you can see what the holes look like for the dowel to be attached too. You want some room to move that dowel.

7) Assemble like the picture

In the image above you will see that the dowel (ok it is really a 2”x 2” beam) is at an angle this is so that it can fit my biggest and my smallest hammer on the same rack.

Step 13: D: Tool Track and Peg Board Spacers

To put up the peg board, I used the same spacers and that was it for the directions, so use this one. I used 1” spacers for the peg board.


*Perforated Metal Strip (I used a 3 foot piece from Lowes)

*Washers that won’t slip through holes, but isn’t larger than the metal *strip.

*Long enough for the spacer as well as the wood metal strip and washer *Copper pipe ½” D . I got mine from Pacific Steel where they recycle and have large boxes people can look through for stuff to buy cheap.

*A pipe cutter (handy cheap little tool)

Step 14: D: Tool Track and Peg Board Spacers 1


1) Shape the Metal strip to loosely follow the shape of the shelf.

Make bends for where you want it to connect, with the shelf if you want it too. You could just use a spacer at the end and finish off the ends of your metal strip nicely. I had mine meet the edge of my shelf and wall.

2) Decide where the spacers go, and how long you want them. You do NOT need to keep spacers the same size if you are a free form type of person. Also good to know if you have different size tools and you want a graduation in the distance from the edge of the shelf.

Keep in mind what spacing you want so that one handle will fit between the rail and the shelf, and not fall over.

Where my track met up with my shelf I screwed it in before leaving room for the spacers where I wanted them. Once I added the spacers it pulled everything together nicely.

Step 15: D: Tool Track and Peg Board Spacers 2

3) Cut the spacers.

Mark or scratch the copper tube where you want it cut. Line it up with the blade of the cutter. Tighten the knob so that it is snug and turn the cutter around the tube twice (more is ok) tighten the knob again, turn twice, tighten turn twice, tighten …. You get the idea.

If the copper tube is too short to hold, put it in a vise. This actually works really well.

4) Place the spacers where you want them put the washer on the screw and then through the metal, the spacer and into the wood.

Step 16: E: Tool Holsters

I found that I wanted a way to put my corded drill and my

heat gun away that was easy to use and access. So I used leather and made holsters.


*vegi- tanned leather, on the thicker side

*Leather tools to match your skills. At the least, a sharp awl , waxed fake sinew, a big eyed needle.

*A few screws and washers

*Paper, I like heavier paper for patterns

*Duct tape

*The tool that you are creating the holster for

Step 17: E: Tool Holsters 1


Make the pattern

To do this, wrap and cut paper to cover the tool the way that you want. My original pattern left the tip or my heat gun totally exposed in case it was hot. My hubby pointed out that it would burn my craft bench, and that the leather would protect it. So I altered the pattern to have a lip just on the back side next to my bench with the front still open to allow it to cool well.

2) Once the pattern is made, I sometimes will strengthen it with duct tape, especially if I make alterations of if the process might rip the paper.

Step 18: E: Tool Holsters 2

3) Cut out your leather matched to the pattern

4) Using an Awl you can punch holes in the leather for sewing, bigger ones are easier, and sew both ends together. If you have leather skills use them, make it awesome! This tutorial is long enough already, and there are several awesome leather ones to check out.

5) Attach it to the workbench. I attached mine to the outside of my workbench to conserve space and still allow easy reach. Use at least two screws with washers. I placed mine at a convenient angle for me.

Step 19: Wrap Up

I had a blast making my new work space, and there are several tidbits involved that are just fun, interesting or just possibly a good idea.

As I said, I live in an apartment. we are not allowed to have candles. but nothing says I cant have a propane torch, but I don't want to advertise it. So we hid thoes items under the leather flap.

I wanted long hooks to hang things like scissors on and after looking everywhere I found these great long hooks in the lawn and garden department.

Using some part from inside an apple computer, and these weird aluminum containers I found at Pacific Steel (recycling center) I made a great little pen pencil, paintbrush, saw blade storage area.

I wanted to have my Anvil on my desk, but I could NOT put it directly on the desk because I have great pull out work space on each side, so I made a platform that raised it up. I am sooo glad to have it up there, and not on the small wobbly log that it used to be on.

I also found that I could store the T squares and my odd triangular ruler in the 1" space between the peg board and that edge of my shelf shell.

First Time Author Contest

Participated in the
First Time Author Contest

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest