If I had a hammer … I’d lend it to you

Consumer Reports News: March 08, 2011 08:08 AM

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a generous neighbor with a fully-stocked tool shed. But after this winter, we certainly all covet one. Luckily, there are a growing number of tool-lending libraries located in actual libraries or run by civic organizations that lend basic as well as expensive tools for little or no money.

Founded in 1976, Rebuilding Together in Columbus, Ohio lends out more than 4,500 hand and power tools. In Berkeley, California, another early tool-lending library loans residents everything from a cement mixer to a demolition hammer. And in 17 Arizona cities, residents can borrow Kill-a-Watt energy meters to conduct their own energy audits. Wikipedia maintains a nationwide list of tool-lending libraries.

Typically, the libraries lend the tools as they do books, including charging overdue fees. Users are usually allowed to renew a tool unless it’s in demand. Some of the civic-run tool lenders require a membership fee or charge small rental fees. Many of the groups also offer classes on how to use the tools to do such projects as home weatherization, drywall repair and painting.

If you don’t have a tool library near you, keep in mind that many commercial tool rental centers charge reasonable rates for power equipment. And for an investment of $300 you can fill your own toolbox with the 10 essential tools you’ll need for most household projects. The list includes screwdrivers, saws and wrenches as well as a cordless drill. In our latest tests of cordless drills we found capable models for as little as $80.  Next time your neighbor comes knocking, you can lend it to her.

—Reporting by Gian Trotta

Aaron Bailey

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