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how do you keep neighbours friendly with noisy power tools?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Mikey R, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. hey everyone!

    like a lot of folk here, ive recently been bitten with the bass building bug.

    i spent this fine sunny afternoon looking longingly out of my office window and dreaming of ash and maple, waiting for 5:30 to come around so i could run home and break out the router.

    an hour and a bit later and ive got the workmate set up in the yard, its now a fine sunny evening and im making happy sawdust.

    the problem is im also making a lot of happy power tool noise, and this evening a slip of paper arrived in the letterbox from the neighbourhood watch. it seems power tools in residential areas are frowned upon by the normal, non luthiing folk.

    so im now wondering how im going to get this bass finished, and how i can continue making basses in the future. i can only make noise during office hours, which is when im normally in the office. how does everyone else get around this problem?
  2. Nelson Guitars

    Nelson Guitars

    Aug 14, 2006
    Novato California
    Custom builder

    Respect for your neighbors is always good advice. That being said you should have the freedom to pursue your hobby at reasonable hours. Do you belong to a homeowners association that can enforce such a rule? If not, then see if you can work it out with whomever sent the note. Was the note signed? If not then post a note on your letter box that says you are open to discuss your hobby and it's repercussions on the neighborhood with anyone willing to do likewise.

    Save the noisy tool work for mid day on weekends. Learn to use hand tools such as spoke shaves and scrapers. Much more enjoyment that way anyway IMHO.

    It would be helpful to know more about your specific situation. My neighbors don't bitch at me too much because I am the guy they always come to for fix it stuff and they don't want to tick me off.

    Greg N
  3. cheers for the reply Greg!


    a lot of my neighbours are retired, so ive always (except tonight :bag:) been careful to keep the noise down. im just a little annoyed that instead of just coming round to the back yard and asking me to stop, the complaining party phoned the neighbourhood watch.

    after fuming over this for a few hours, i know that i didnt pick the most sociable hour to fire up the router. i'll save it for midday on saturdays - cheers for the tip!

    i actually started on the hand tools. my Gradfather taught me when i was a kid, we made all kinds of cool stuff using nowt but handsaws, planes, spokeshaves, chissels. he was a chippie of the old school and wouldnt allow powertools in the shop! ive had a break from working with wood of a good few years and im now trying to realearn it all.

    :) i think we've covered it all, i was at fault on this instance. but like you said, if i choose sociable hours for using power tools and outside of these hours stick to the hand tools, then everyone should be happy.
  4. cool!

    yeah - we all mess up and make mistakes on the odd occasion. and its easy to get carried away. i'll make sure i learn from this experience!

    good tip on the remorse! :cool:
  5. l337r3nn


    Jun 6, 2008
    well, turn their anality (is that even a word?) on them. tell them they aren't allowed to add sections to their houses, or install fences, or throw parties, and also make the point that most residential noise laws only come into effect with greater than 120 decibels, and only after nine pm on anything quieter.
  6. not the right approach IMO, that's the correct way to start a very uncomfortable relationship with people you will have to see everyday until you move eventually. You have to walk the line, I find neighbors more accommodating when you just let them know what you are doing. It is called living in society after all :)
  7. Nelson Guitars

    Nelson Guitars

    Aug 14, 2006
    Novato California
    Custom builder
    Your right to swing your fist in the air ends at the tip of my nose. Good advice for "them" as well as my/yourself.

    Greg N
  8. KNowing you you'll give them a nice reasoned argument, a Mikey trademark grin and it'll all be ok :)

    (better be, after the prototype the next bass on the list is mine!!) :hyper:

    If not, I've just persuaded my gf's dad to let me use his workshop for my speaker cab antics, you'd have to move 250 miles south but it would be fun!
  9. Make them something once in a while with your power tools.
  10. Lucas G

    Lucas G

    Jan 14, 2007
    masury, OH
    as soon as someone starts making my mortgage payments for me, they are more than welcome to tell me what i can and can not do with my free time on my property. until then, everyone can mind their own business.
  11. Fnord Explorer

    Fnord Explorer

    Feb 3, 2008
    Exactly. Is this "neighborhood watch" thing a UK thing (all ours does here is keep an eye out for moustached men in cargo vans) where they enforce these "rules"?

    If you signed a neighborhood contract then you are kind stuck. If you did not I'd politely tell them to "sod off".
  12. Neighbors are great today, aren't they? 25 years ago, they used to watch out for you, everybody knew everybody's kids, they'd get your mail when you were away, the kids cut the neighbors lawns....

    When our oldest graduated from high school 3 years ago, we put a fire pit in the backyard so the kids could roast some marshmallows and hotdogs when all the grad parties were done. They were here all of her senior year since they were all in the high school musical and we're the closest "cast member" house to the high school.

    The fire pit is 5 feet away from our house, and the garden hose is right there in case anything happens.

    So what do our "neighbors" do? Call the police. They're afraid burning embers will travel on to their propery and set their porch awing on fire, and since their windows are open on a cool summer evening, smoke is getting into the house which isn't good for their lungs. The officer says we're within regulations and code, but it's a disturbing the peace call, so we have to stop.

    Just like when my musician friends come over and we play in the basement. I remember getting the police called on me when I was 15 - still happens when I'm 48.

    Yet, in our former house, a bar moved into our zoned residential neighborhood - IN OUR BACKYARD (yes, there had to be a payoff involved) - and we had no recourse against the bass pounding music that came from it on Friday and Saturday nights...EVERY Friday and Saturday nights. So we moved. We thought our new neighbors would be a little more neighborly.

    When MisterRogers died, so did the concept of "neighbor" - now it's "the idiot next door."

    As for your bass building, find a friend that has an empty vented garage in a zoned commercial area and move your shop there. Work on it at night after the stores around it close.

    Or move to a place where your closest neighbor is 2 miles down the road. Mike Tobias did; Mike Adler did; I'm sure Ken Smith did too.

  13. i think i'll give them an :eyebrow: and see what they make of that.

    hey Mert, when i get started properly on yours i'll post a build thread - always wanted to do one! :smug:

    :cool: enjoy! sound clips when your done!

    normally, thats all our neighbourhood watch does. thats why this was a bit of a surprise.

    the complaint was about the drilling noise, so i'll give them a powertool free weekend - ive got to carve the neck anyway - then finish up the body the following saturday lunchtime.
  14. hey, thanks for the long reply, looks like im not alone!

    good call, i'll get on the lookout for some commercial property. ive got a friend who makes acoustic guitars, we may be able to band together.
  15. That :eyebrow: is you to a T! ;)

    As for the build diary, bring it on. :bassist: (Assuming the neighbours let you)....
  16. :confused: work inside your house . . . :rolleyes: wait I only did that when I was single :meh:
    :bag: yeah you should work inside house :ninja:
  17. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    I work in my garage.
  18. I work in my basement :ninja: sometimes in my living room but don't tell my wife :ninja:
  19. hmm,

    after chatting with the neighbours last night (remorse in good supply) it turns out that any kind of work in the yard is a bad idea. i gave them the :eyebrow: but it didnt work.

    for those of us in the UK, it might be good to know that it seems that its illegal to set up a workshop in a residential area. in most cases its ok, right up till someone complains then its game over.

    i dont know where "a spot of DIY" turns into "a spot of work in the shop" but im pretty certain that the line could be shifted by the complaining party to make sure that the offending party is over it. in this case the complaining party is a retired lawyer.

    like i said above i know that in this instance i was in the wrong but i think thats prejudiced this one complaining neighbour enough against anyone doing anything remotely woody in the local area.

    so theres two options - move or find a permanent work space.

    needless to say, :mad: = my face this morning.
  20. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Good luck I have been very lucky so far. We live on 2.5 acres but sound travels pretty well I don't start making noise until 8:00 in the morning and shut down at 10:00 at the latest and only rarely have the doors open in the workshop while working.