Ask Adam Savage: Making a "Renter Friendly" Home Workshop

Ask Adam Savage: Making a "Renter Friendly" Home Workshop

In this live-stream excerpt, Adam answers questions from Tested members Joelle Brooke and Matt about making at-home workshops renter friendly as well as spacing out shop lights optimally. Thank you, Joelle and Matt, for your support and questions! Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks, like asking Adam a question:

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Tested is:
Adam Savage
Norman Chan
Joey Fameli
Ryan Kiser
Jen Schachter
Kishore Hari
Sean Charlesworth
Jeremy Williams
Kayte Sabicer
Bill Doran
Ariel Waldman
Darrell Maloney
Kristen Lomasney

Intro bumper by Abe Dieckman

Thanks for watching!

#AdamSavage #ShopInfrastructure #TinyWorkshops


  1. CSN on January 18, 2023 at 3:10 am

    RE: lighting. Cheap adhesive 12V LED strips + ~1/2" aluminum angle + any old computer power supply makes a surprisingly effective and very inexpensive way to light a small to medium space. Whipped mine up 6 years ago and only one little patch of 3 LEDs failed, otherwise plugging along fine. I also used some of the PSU’s extra power to run an automotive stereo amp to a pair of 6x9s from a Chromecast for tunes.

  2. Joel Westman on January 18, 2023 at 3:11 am

    For lighting, is there a sweet spot for color temperature? 4000k? 6500k?

  3. Amalgamotion on January 18, 2023 at 3:11 am

    I have had a mini shop of some sort inside my apartment for about 10 years now. I am a craftsman by trade and try my hand at sculptures and make my own furniture. I’ve lived in several rentals in this time and I have some pointers.

    Carpet mask should only be laid down for roughly a month, while it’s an amazing shield against liquids the adhesive will leave itself on your carpet if its in a high traffic area or down for too long.
    However, its about the best product to lay down under a drop cloth and tarp if you just want the peace of mind for the weekend. Totally with Adam on the layer’s. can be found in the carpet section of most hardware stores.

    Invest in a diy fume hood of some kind. better yet do it outside, but sometimes you cannot. Understandable! But you will pay twice for that spray.
    Plus, your pets, plants and landlord all benefit from the lack of over spray.

    If you are consistently noisy, and share walls with neighbor’s. Consider making your neighbor’s little gifts so they think of you as more an Elvish or Dwarven workshop, than mad scientist laboratory.
    Noise complaints will get you kicked out of most places if you get too many.

    I’ve had to pour money into a place before leaving just to prevent a hefty bill if not downright lawsuit. If you cannot find a sweet landlord that will work and understand what your up to. think of it as a game with serious consequences if you don’t crush it.

    I fully encourage a show helping makers build out their spaces, show off what this country is up to in our little passion project rooms.
    (edited b/c it it, isn’t a thing)

  4. SierraEcho88 on January 18, 2023 at 3:12 am

    Here is what I have done. I have made a shop cart out of Aluminium extrusion profiles (40×40 ITEM) with a MDF top surface (with mounting holes for clamps) and casters. The MDF top is 18x1200x800mm and I just bought it here in Germany ready to go from a small company. Then I made a sliding door cabinet underneith it for all my tools, shop vac, and sorting boxes.
    This way I have a small moble maker space which contains al my tools and I can take it with me OR adjust in size when I move into a new apartment. This Way you can simply use a tarp, then move your small mobile maker space over it and build and paint whatever you want to. Everything is tidy and contained. Also do not forget some kind of air extraction if your work pieces emit toxic fumes or you work with resins etc. This is very important.

  5. A Wanderer from Ys on January 18, 2023 at 3:12 am

    Always keep a few good sturdy cardboard boxes around. The bigger the better. They make for great makeshift spray paint boxes or paint dryers. Whether it’s airbrush or rattlecan, indoor or outdoor, it keeps everything nice and contained. Flatpack them into a corner or something.
    You can build yourself a simple wooden box with a fan and HEPA filter of course, but a big cardboard box is a great alternative on the fly.

    On lighting, if colour matters then the light source does too. Modern LEDs are pretty good in that regard but not all sources are created equal. Our eyes only register the wavelengths present in the light source. If the source is particularly ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ things will look different than when viewed under full-spectrum light (i.e. sunlight). It matters for your workshop but also for displays and galleries. Bad lighting can really screw you.
    Now that halogen and fluorescent are mostly phased out it’s less of an issue, but make sure that whatever you get is labeled full-spectrum or something similar.

  6. swedeis on January 18, 2023 at 3:15 am

    The last apartment I lived in, my ex had managed to spill burning gel fuel over the carpeting near the entrance. After we put the fire out, we covered it up with a carpet runner. When I moved out at the end of nearly a decade, they didn’t ding me for my deposit because the carpet was overdue for replacement. So don’t try to hide things that you can’t/couldn’t repair and be a good tenant when possible (not all landlords are the same, so try to do your research and have communication backed up in writing).

  7. Telamon8 on January 18, 2023 at 3:15 am

    My tip for small room shops: most of your work shop will probably be entirely confined to a table or desk, like mine pretty much exclusively is. You want to do everything you can to keep your hands clean as much as possible. A bit of ink or paint on the palm of your hand you didn’t notice, and suddenly your doors or carpet or everything is covered in it. Keep a bottle of hand cleaner within arms reach at all times, have something that helps keep your hands raised, have gloves and a bag to dispose them in, all of that. Keep yourself clean, and you’ll go a long way to keeping your house clean.

  8. M. Gail Per on January 18, 2023 at 3:15 am

    With my 1 rental property, I’d estimate I return the deposit about half the time. Of that, probably 2/3 is a full refund, with that other third being less the cost of cleaning rather than repair. My mom (whom I inherited the property from) taught me that it was the honorable thing to do. That being said, I know I am probably the exception,. A precaution to renters: demand your original rental agreement includes photos of even the smallest issue and when you leave, schedule a walk through with the landlord (or their representative) and demand in writing anything that has changed – signed by both you and the landlord.

  9. Andy Warburton on January 18, 2023 at 3:20 am

    Omg “Adam Makes Maker Spaces for Makers” needs to happen!

  10. Geomancer on January 18, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Wish you would of brought up another issue of an apartment workshop. You’re not alone in that apartment. Don’t forget your neighbors, they’re not going to appreciate "construction noises" throughout the day every evening/weekday just like you wouldn’t appreciate such coming from them.

    A better suggestion for apartment renters would be to find a local workshop that has a membership or daily rate that you can rent. They’re usually very reasonable, and can also give you access to several bigger tools like table saws, band saws, miter saws, drill presses, etc.

    Yeah, it’s not free, but it isn’t going to risk your deposit, and isn’t going to make everyone around you hate your guts.

  11. RabbitsFoot101 on January 18, 2023 at 3:24 am

    Mr. Savage, an internet show of smaller DIY workshops and amateurs, building and helping with shops. Would be Incredibly good and popular.

  12. Jake Mobley on January 18, 2023 at 3:27 am

    How does an unemployed person get to own a home, and not pay the mortgage, taxes, or maintenance?

    They call themselves a "landlord" and get someone else to work and pay all that stuff for them.

  13. jeepspeedracer on January 18, 2023 at 3:29 am

    I own a house now but the small spray paint booth on wheels I built is a great idea to be able to put outside and do any form of paint or resin on it. Definitely worth it to make one that can fold out bigger if you have to get into an apartment elevator or something.

  14. Adam Savage’s Tested on January 18, 2023 at 3:30 am

    Thank you, Joelle and Matt, for your support and questions!
    Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks, like asking Adam a question:
    Laura Kampf’s Mini Tabletop Workbench:
    More Adam Q&A here:

  15. Oli Barton on January 18, 2023 at 3:31 am

    I am so on board for a workshop setup show of some sort – I’ve wanted to get some machinery for a while but don’t really know where to start, so it would be super helpful to see some startups with future proofing as well as some transformations.
    Whoever it is that can make this happen, please do!

  16. bysalla on January 18, 2023 at 3:33 am

    I would like to volunteer to be on your shop makeover show! please please please do this!

  17. Joe Fera on January 18, 2023 at 3:33 am

    When I built my clone trooper costume, I used the deck that went the entire length of the front of my apartment building and put a big tarp down to collect all the plastic shavings and other debris, and to paint. Only works great in warmer weather, obviously, but I kept it all outside of the apartment. When I did spray paint inside, I taped up newspapers to the wall and table to catch any over spray. My wife wasn’t happy about having the window in the spare room open in the dead of winter for ventilation. LOL

  18. NukaSmurf on January 18, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The wife and I use drop cloths, but mostly when we picked our apartment, we chose this one because the carpet is in need of replacing. We own a carpet shampooer for when things get messy (and pets). We have a private balcony I can put an outdoor rug on when I need to do sanding to vacuum the mess, or quickly roll things up if weather turns. In doors you need FANS, I’ve got a couple box fans that I modified so it’s housing keeps it secure in the window. Tarps are great too. It takes probably 20mins to an hour some times to "set-up" my workspace everyday. It’s worth the hassle to be making the things I want though. Also it helps my wife has a full time job that affords us a two-bedroom, we gave up on having a "Guest room". Our living room is the "Office", thank you pandemic for making working at home a reality. Our 60in TV for Xbox gaming is in the bed room. Our "spare room" is a Crafting area, we can keep the cats out of.

  19. Ryan's Random Shop on January 18, 2023 at 3:36 am

    That would be a fantastic show, hope it becomes a reality

  20. The Quiet Craftsman on January 18, 2023 at 3:37 am

    I built a large work bench which I basically constructed from lumber I cut in the home Depot parking lot and assembled after sliding each board through a sliding glass window. The back of the bench was essentially and open wall frame so I could hang things from those studs without putting holes in the walls. When I moved out, I unscrewed each board and piece by piece removed it though the same sliding glass door.

    Noise was a really big concern at that apartment as well and I developed quite a few techniques that weren’t the fastest or the more accurate but the quietest– hence my username.

  21. Aidan James on January 18, 2023 at 3:37 am

    My current landlord let me convert an entire room into a workshop. He’s either entirely confident that – as a maker – I’ll be capable of restoring the room to his satisfaction, or he’s insane. Or both.

  22. Griffith Leather Co. on January 18, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I’m currently running my whole leather operation in a spare bedroom. I have a designated area for using chemicals and dyes since it is a carpeted work space. I have a thick plastic shower curtain layers down and a rug on top. All from a thrift shop. Hopefully I can run things from an air conditioned shop soon.

  23. Al L on January 18, 2023 at 3:40 am

    dude i would watch the s*** of that show! make it happen adam!

  24. Lachee on January 18, 2023 at 3:41 am

    4:00 i would love to watch a show like that. Would be super cool to see what you can do in a small space

  25. Fearsome Warrior on January 18, 2023 at 3:44 am

    I put down the biggest cardboard sheets I have on hand down on carpet. I feel pretty safe with that. If I’m doing something that could spill I setup for that specially at the time. Towel and plastic or whatever is required for that task.

  26. Troy Huckendubler on January 18, 2023 at 3:44 am

    Use maker spaces when available!!!

  27. Alexandra Mahairas on January 18, 2023 at 3:47 am

    As a young renter, I do suggest keeping some cardboard boxes (from moving) for doing any spray painting. They make for excellent makeshift painting boxes and are reusable as patten-piece mockups. I personally love painting trays and cups for liquids cause you never know when you’re going to need to put something down. Apart from that drop mats and blankets are always your best friend. Picnic blankets do a good job as they have a built-in absorbent layer and plastic layer. Try working off the floor as much as possible and always keep in mind spills, fumes and ventilation. Good luck

  28. Philip Hochendoner on January 18, 2023 at 3:48 am

    I will volunteer or even pay to let Adam help me create a home shop. And then probably help him build the next one and even one for the local school. HGTV, we need this to happen!!

  29. Navigating the Destination on January 18, 2023 at 3:48 am

    Here is a apartment workshop i thought would give people some ideas. Brilliant young man
    Love the idea of a show of going around the country to help people setup maker space. I always enjoy shows like that. 👍

  30. Joe C on January 18, 2023 at 3:49 am

    Canvas drop cloths with the spill protection liner LIFESAVER

  31. Bryan Beasley on January 18, 2023 at 3:49 am

    In military barracks a friend built a workshop in a old uhaul he got. It was awesome and the renters/apartment question reminded me of this. He had solar power and a back up generator. Installed ventilation and some soundproofing. I know this isn’t for everyone, but an old used van or truck and renovate it if you have the parking space. It was like his backyard shed with no yard. Just wanted to throw that idea here for others to generate better ideas :).

  32. Cris J on January 18, 2023 at 3:50 am

    A lot of larger cities have workshop spaces for rent. Might cost a bit, but it’s a place where your messy crafting can safely be done…

  33. Barry Clarkson on January 18, 2023 at 3:51 am

    What a great bunch of ideas. Your show would be incredible.

  34. neophytealpha on January 18, 2023 at 3:52 am

    Reflective materials help with light. Increase availability of lumens without extra power

  35. JD on January 18, 2023 at 3:55 am

    That should be a super cool show – if it gets going you could have a segment where you go back and look at what worked and what did not work in a particular workshop.

  36. Yolandi on January 18, 2023 at 3:55 am

    “Small Shop Homes”… “Tiny Workshop”… “My Shop Chop”.. I would totally watch these shows in my free time, all day.

  37. Thunda on January 18, 2023 at 3:55 am

    One BIG thumbs up to the workspace setup TV Show, it would be so neat to join you with helping out with it as well!

  38. IOUaUsername on January 18, 2023 at 3:56 am

    For lighting, you should learn what the colour rendering index is, and choose good lights for painting areas. For metal or wood working however I prefer warm white lights that offer less glare and help to see fine detail while also reducing fatigue.

  39. Nase aus der Hütte on January 18, 2023 at 3:58 am

    We’re renting in the east bay with a small garden.
    We fit a 8’x12’ shed, 9’ high in there.
    A outdoor 20amp extension cord feeds power through the dryer vent all the way to the shed, going to into a male nema inlet (marina stuff), all inside an electrical bubble.
    It’s a paradise for me. I found a 8’ long massive oak table in a Berkeley university outlet warehouse for $60 which I put on top of two husky toolboxes from Home Depot.
    It’s a significant but cheap workbench that will last a long time!
    A used medical chair from Craigslist is a perfect shop chair! So far I fit a 10” drill press, a 12” disc sander, a vise and a 7” evolution steel chop saw in there.
    My little attic is my storage!

    Man I love this thing

  40. Mikey's Lab on January 18, 2023 at 3:59 am

    As an apartment maker, I have dedicated the second bedroom to my lab. It is worth noting that I am in Canada, and security deposits are illegal. My landlord does not like it, but that is his problem 🙂 I work primarily with electronics, but still have a lot of 3D printing chemicals, soldering and PCB etching chemicals and really heavy tool chests. I guess my point is I understand and expect that the carpet in that room will be destroyed. So my advise, you are paying for the space, use it as you desire. The other piece of advice I have is find your local maker space, they are awesome places to build and grow as a maker.

  41. Roofy666 on January 18, 2023 at 4:00 am

    Plastic floor protection on carpet then put a tarp down then make a false floor from osb

  42. beebopnrocksteady on January 18, 2023 at 4:00 am

    I would love to see a workshop based show, I’m in the process of setting up a workshop in my new apt with carpet too!

  43. The-DooM-Doctor on January 18, 2023 at 4:02 am

    Smaller shop areas within another area that I’ve been to I’ve found the simple approach of building a room within a room. A boxed off area is probably the best thing to do

  44. Fraser Cossar on January 18, 2023 at 4:02 am

    Yes, yes please! I’d be on your Tiny Workshop makeover/ set-up show! I have a 8×7, attached- chicken coop to my century home. An 6’+ board needs to stick out the door to be cut on my moveable mitre saw. I’m so envious of full shops!

  45. Marcus Beirne on January 18, 2023 at 4:03 am

    Lumicluster’s workshop is one of the best examples of a small workshop I have ever seen. I can’t find the video, but I know she talked about her setup when she was working in her sister’s music studio, and the challenges she faced in working with silicone and resin in a space where spills couldn’t happen.

  46. kris faller on January 18, 2023 at 4:05 am


  47. Bryan Norris on January 18, 2023 at 4:06 am

    I shared a cheap apartment with a couple of friends in college. We left it in what we felt was such a bad shape that we didn’t even bother to ask for our deposit. A couple years later one of my former roommates ended up in the same complex and they said "Hey, we have a security deposit check that you never claimed." Just because it is often hard to get your deposit back, don’t skip asking for it.

  48. Reidar Composano on January 18, 2023 at 4:08 am

    I am currently a law student, and woodworking is my primary hobby. I have an office space where I both woodwork and do school.

    My first recommendation is that just about every piece of furniture be on wheels. My entire office is on wheels with the exception of an old metal barrister bookcase.

    Next, make sure everything has a home so that you can entirely switch gears and separate the two use-spaces when necessary. I have a medium sized tool chest, two shelves in my barrister, and around 1/2 of the floor of the closet reserved for tools, etc.; I also have a large pegboard that I mounted (this did require 4x screws in wall, but I made a design where the entire board can lift on/off the wall, leaving only two wall-matching mounts on the wall for when I need to video call).

    My workbench, while not ideal, gets the job done. I have a file cabinet under my desk (on locking wheels ofc) that I roll out. I place a thick table on my file cabinet. The table has a “border” underneath that I sized to the top of my file cabinet to avoid the table sliding. The table is stored behind my tool chest.

    As far as lighting goes. I live and die by the headlamp.

    Next comes the cleaning supplies and PPE. I have ready access to all sorts of cleaning devices: all types of wipes, compressed air, shop vac, dust buster, etc. I also have a box fan by my window and plenty of high quality masks for when I do any spraying (I also cover my furniture with a sheet when spraying).

    There are lots of other little gadgets that I have in here (3d printer, mounts, etc.). I also have a strict rule to return the space to “office” at the end of every day. Everything goes back to its home. This is annoying, but I have the clean-up down to a science at this point.

    That’s all! Good luck.

    Edit: accidentally said “for study and school” rather than for “woodworking and school.” Yes, I need to study 😬

  49. Cobre: Bluebonnet Equine Challenge Fall 2022 on January 18, 2023 at 4:08 am

    I would totally watch a show like that. Setting up shops.

  50. Anthony Alexander on January 18, 2023 at 4:09 am

    I literally always just write the security deposit off to the game. I mount shelves/Tvs/I paint walls. I think its made my life better overall. granted the most its ever been is 1-1.5k .