My NYC Workshop Tour (200 ft²)

This is a tour of my compact New York City studio, which I use for my work as a full-time content creator. I’ll show you how my small space pulls off some big tasks, share with you some of my favorite storage and organization tips, and answer your frequently asked questions about my workshop.

My studio is the biggest bedroom in my Brooklyn apartment– it’s about 200 square feet of space, and it has one closet, laminate floors, central air, and a small but useable space outside one of the two windows.

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We’ll start with my tool chest. It holds way more stuff than shelves or a pegboard while making everything easy to reach for a short person, and provides an additional work surface. I keep my 3D printer on top of it and use the space next to it for whatever I’m working on. For a space with floors that aren’t necessarily level, it was important to me to get a tool chest with drawers that latch shut and casters with locks, so nothing goes sliding around. The color is a bonus for me– it matches the rest of the space and I can draw on it with dry erase makers. I like that everything can have a place in these drawers and be out of sight when not in use.

I’ve got some cabinets holding my component drawers and other things. In case you haven’t already noticed, I really like my label maker. It makes things easier to find and then easy to put back where they go.

The closet has some built-in shelving which I use for storing supplies and tools, for instance, my 3D printer filament. I know I’ve shown you a dry box for storing filament a few years ago, but this is how I’m storing it these days. In bags, with silica gel packets, sometimes vacuum sealed, since I’ve got a vacuum sealer in the kitchen. But you can also just use zip-top bags and pull the air out with a straw.

I do store some clothes in here, it’s my video wardrobe and things I wear while working on messy stuff. Everything else is in labeled containers so I can easily find the supplies I need for a particular craft.

This is where I keep my shipping supplies for sending out products from my store, as well as different types of batteries and chargers.

All kinds of long things end up in one corner of the closet, as well as some big flat things I use for filming. My fabric stash is stuffed into one of these hanging organizers.

This is my electronics slash jewelry bench. It’s sold as a jewelry bench, and I absolutely love the tray that pulls out to catch small bits of things that fall, the higher work surface so my eyes can be closer and see better, and all the storage it provides. I painted the top black and added a bench vice.

Above the bench, I keep a magnetic tool holder, wire spool holder, my resistor color code cross stitch, and my flex shaft rotary tool. It’s operated with a foot pedal from below. Also under this desk, I’ve got a mini dust extractor with a HEPA filter, which I use to vacuum the floor and occasionally hook up directly to a tool. I’ve got some storage for clamps and rulers on the other side of the workbench.

I use my old iMac for watching TV while working and viewing things under my USB microscope.

I try to take advantage of as much vertical wall space as possible since the workshop itself is only about 200 square feet.

Here is my main desk, where I use the computer, record voiceovers, and also film overhead of my work table. I use an ergonomic mechanical keyboard and a gaming mouse on a tray that slides under my desktop.

My overhead camera and lighting rig is made from two C stands and boom arms. I can swing the rectangular light into three positions without moving the stand, whether I’m filming the table, the bench, or joining a video chat. You can read more about my camera gear in my Studio Setup video/blog post.

I love plants and try to keep as many as I can without taking up too much space, so I have a bunch in the windows and my higher humidity ones in this Ikea greenhouse cabinet.

My little hangout nook with a comfy chair is honestly usually used as a dog bed.

Out the window, I have a small outdoor roof space I use for messy or smelly things like sanding or spray paint. I’ve also got a little grill out there.

Some of the questions I get asked most frequently about my workshop:

What are you doing to keep the sawdust from accumulating in your apartment?

I have a small dust collection system, I try to keep the door closed while I’m creating any sawdust, and just clean it up before I do other projects.

How do you manage noise? Did you work something out with neighbors or do you have really good sound isolation or something?

I live above a ground-floor shop, so I don’t have to worry about annoying my downstairs neighbors which can be a problem for things like leatherworking or woodworking where you are making a lot of downward banging noises. But generally, I just keep my power tool usage to normal hours, and I do it outside on the little patio if I can. My neighbors have power tools too, and they use them on their patio, and we follow the Golden Rule.

How do you get sheets of plywood into your apartment? Delivery of lumber must be a big challenge for an NYC apartment dweller.

There are certain taxes on living in the city. For instance, even though the website says that the person who shows up with the plywood should be also helping carry it inside the house, when they get here, maybe they don’t want to do it without being paid extra cash on the spot. It’s always good to have an extra friend around.

Do you have to design the use of space for each project since they’re often so different and have different needs?

Yes. I try to have my workshop support that in a modular fashion. My workbench here has wheels on it, my tool bench has wheels on it, and I can move my light around anywhere in the space. It’s true that I can’t be working on a sawdust project and a sewing project at the same time. The overlap has to be with compatible materials.

How do you deal with waste? What do you keep, recycle, or throw away, and how do you decide?

My rule is that if I can think of two or three projects I might make with it, it gets to stay. But if I can’t think of one thing I might make out of it, it might be on the chopping block and I might try to give it to somebody else.

What’s the main thing you don’t like about the space currently?

If it were to be bigger I would lay it out a bit differently. So maybe I’m missing a big flat work table in the middle which would be good for laying out big fabric projects and stuff like that. So if I had the space, if the room were just a few feet wider in this direction, I might have a big layout table in the middle. But this little table just has to do for now.

How do you deal with light changes from those beautiful windows?

My lights are color-temp adjustable. That’s really it. And I have blinds. So I can’t make it completely dark but I can adjust the artificial lighting I have inside to match the color temp that’s coming in through the windows and then I just white-balance my camera.

Which tools can you get access to locally through coops, fabricators, or workplaces?

I am affiliated with two different institutions: NYCResistor, my hackerspace, has a laser cutter and a ShopBot, and the SVA VFL where I teach has those things and more, like large format printing. SoI don’t need to have space for a CNC because I have multiple opportunities to use a laser cutter and a big CNC machine outside of my house.

What tools will never fit in your shop that you wish you could get?

I actually kinda don’t want to be my own laser cutter operator. I like that the laser cutters I have access to are managed by people who know more about laser cutters than I do. But you know what I do wish I could get? A full-size band saw. I know I wouldn’t even have the space to cut the things a full-size band saw cuts, but I would love to have a full-size band saw, and I’ll never have the space for it in this room, so I’ll have to make do with my tiny saws.

How do you find the ToughBuilt sawhorses? I’ve been considering them for a while as they fold up for easy storage in limited spaces.

Oh, those are great. They do exactly what you want. They’re really small when they’re put away, and they’re really sturdy when they’re deployed. I don’t have anything to compare them to but I think they’re really nice.


You may be interested in some of my other work:

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