I have asked myself this question so many times over the years. I allowed not having a dedicated shop space dictate my ability to build anything and for many years I never even picked up a tool. However, my passion to make projects for around the house and for my children finally made me realize that I do not need a garage, big patio, or much space at all to enjoy my passion and build items of all sizes for me and those close to me.
While living in my last apartment I came up with excuse after excuse of why I could not follow my passion and start woodworking. The biggest issue was one of space, and for those who are married my solution may not work. However, I decided that my dining room would double as my workspace and built a large workbench with a woodworking vise to double as my family's dining room table.
My next problem was that I still had a small space and very close neighbors so I was not able to use power tools for my projects, other than the occasional trip to use my father’s jointer and planner. So what did I do? I invested time and money into buying “unplugged” hand tools and read everything I could about utilizing these ancient items. I recommend joining groups on social media that talk about unplugged woodworking they are a knowledge base that should not be passed up.
So, with my usual tendency to jump in headfirst I started buying planes, saws, tools of all sorts, and all of course before I knew what I was looking at or buying. My biggest recommendation I can give anyone and everyone is to join a group or read a book to learn about where to start. There is a book by Christopher Schwarz “The Anarchist's Tool Chest” that I cannot recommend enough. I read this book after my personal buying splurges and wish to this day that I had found this book first.
So I now had a workbench and tools, so what was stopping me now? Nothing but figuring out what I would make first. The first thing I decided to make was a saw-bench, it is a split-top bench that is around knee height that allows for cross-cutting or rip-cutting boards and use your own body as the clamps. You can see my saw-bench in my gallery, if you would like to take a look. Have I used my saw-bench much? The answer is a resounding no, I always seem to find ways to cut the boards without touching my saw-bench, but it was a great weight bench during the quarantine. From there I started building chairs, like the convertible chair/step stool I made for my youngest. Built a tea rack, and a music box, and much more.
If there is anything, I can pass along today, I want it to be, do not let your situation dictate your passion. Just because it is not the way everyone you see doing it on YouTube or in the past does not mean it will not work. Determine what you need to achieve what you want. While there may be challenges you may face during your journey only you can decide if you will reach your destination.