Issue Five: Apartment Woodworking with Spencer Nelson


Beginning with this post, we will announce one Issue Five article each weekday until pre-orders open on August 1st. If you don’t already have a subscription and just wanted to order a copy of Issue Five by itself, you may do so on August 1st.

If you signed up for an auto-renewing yearly subscription last year, your card will be automatically charged exactly 365 days from your original purchase date. Any questions about your subscription status can be directed to info@mortiseandtenonmag.com.

Spencer Nelson learned to build furniture in a space 4-1/2’ by 4-1/2’ in his New York City apartment building. Tired of the hassle of traveling to maker spaces, Spencer set up shop between his kitchen and living room to practice cutting dovetails, chopping mortises, and resawing boards throughout his day doing computer programming.

Spencer’s made quite a variety of furniture of all shapes and sizes. Record cabinet? Easy. Coffee table? No problem - he just used the refrigerator as a planing stop. Learning to see limitations as strengths, Spencer’s navigated his way through Japanese woodworking with the help of his mentor, Yann Giguère of Mokuchi Studio.

We met up with Spencer in his Seattle-based shop to talk about how his new space (still small by American standards) compared to his first Brooklyn apartment shop. Spencer shared with us practical tips for successfully working in such tight quarters but even more than this, his story is an inspiration to those who think their circumstances prevent them from doing real work. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post announcing the next article in Issue Five

- Joshua