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Why You Should Start a Neighborhood Tool Share

Nothing will stop a project faster than lack of the correct tool. Want to build a coffee table? You'll need a hand saw, drill and bits, smooth plane, clamps and glue (at minimum). Always dream of starting a productive backyard garden? Let's hope you have a trowel, garden fork and pruners in the shed.

Projects like these require us to make a sizable financial investment to get started — far beyond what most people are prepared to handle in a single trip to the hardware store. Without the right equipment, you're stuck. In the end, you simply need the right tools to do the job.

Back in the day, it was a lot more common to walk a house or two over to borrow a hammer or a back hoe. Today, however, many of us barely know our neighbors. Just think how much would change if we did. Our hobbies would be a lot cheaper, that's for sure! Enter: the tool share.

screwdrivers hanging on wall

Tool shares operate much like a library, accepting tool donations from the community and then lending them out for free to anyone capable of presenting ID and signing a good old fashioned waiver. Cool, right?

While it might seem a little risky to lend a power tools to strangers, the truth is, there's little to worry about. More than 40 communities already exist in the United States, from Portland to New Orleans (use this map to see if a tool library already exists near you) and the model has been remarkably successful. Some tool shares have already been operating for more than 20 years!

Considering the benefits that tool libraries offer, it's really a shame that there isn't one in every community. Fortunately, starting one is really easy and there are a lot of resources out there to help you along the way. One such resource comes to us through the Lending Library Alliance. Here, you can download everything from sample bylaws and liability forms to guides on fundraising, recruiting volunteers and managing organizational finances.

Or, if that sounds too formal, just start where you are — next door, across the street. Ask the neighbors on your block if they'd be interested in participating in an informal, hyper-local tool share. Simply draft a running list of who owns what and keep it online for all to access. It doesn't have to be complicated!

Neighborhood tool shares open the door to all sorts of hobbies previously inaccessible to people without the resources to deck out their garages and garden sheds with everything in Aisle 4. And, as they say, sharing is caring. After all, wouldn't you want the same done for you?

To start your own tool library, visit:

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