Have you (or your tool wielding other half) ever needed a tool that you didn’t have? We have, and the only options we ever have known were to either think of someone who might have that specific tool and hope we could borrow it or to go rent it from Home Depot or the likes. If we could find someone who had the tool and we could get it from them when we needed it then great, but often it just doesn’t work out that way, which means we end up spending money on a rental.
That may be changing now, however, as I have just discovered that Portland, Oregon, and 16 other states along with Australia and Canada, have tool libraries! What a great idea. If it works for books, why not tools?!
Currently Portland has two libraries in North and Northeast, but this spring they are opening one in the Southeast! It seems pretty simple to be able to check out tools. You do need to live in the respective areas, first of all, then you just need a valid Oregon ID, a utility bill and one other piece of mail to verify address. Go here to view the details for the North Portland Tool Library and here for the details on the Northeast Portland Tool Library. As soon as I see information on the Southeast library I will post it as well.
Don’t live in Portland? Go here to see if your state or country participates.
What if you don’t live in a tool library area? Talk to your neighbors and create a neighborhood tool exchange program. It may take some work initially, but the benefits will be worth it. You could make this as laid back or as organized as you want to. If you like the details all worked out from the beginning then check out this article on how to start one in your neighborhood.
Otherwise, if you aren’t too worried about details then planning an exchange program could be as simple as letting your neighbors know what tools you have to share and offering to trade for ones you need that they might have. This is actually what my neighborhood does and it has been a great benefit. Our neighbors have used our table saw, rototillar, and even a winch attached to our truck to pull a bush out of a yard. We have been able to use various neighbors’ edger, leaf blower, hand tools and the use of a dump box to throw our carpet into.
I think the best way, and one I hope to implement this spring, is to collect names, phone numbers and a list of each neighbor’s tools and hand out lists to each participating neighbor. Obviously, you would need to have somewhat of a feel for the type of neighbor you are handing this information to, but as you talk to each neighbor you do know, they would probably know another neighbor whom you don’t know. The list could grow form there.
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