Need a bulb planter for that bed of to-be-tulips? Or a weedeater for the line of dandelions growing by the sidewalk? Maybe you want a level just to make sure you’re hanging picture frames right. Need to fix up the caulking peeling around your bathtub or sink? Enter the Vancouver Tool Library (VTL), a cool little cooperative on Commercial Street. For an annual fee that covers tool maintenance, sky’s the limit for members, who can borrow anything in the shop for up to five days.
The idea for the VTL was born from a very simple need. Everyone knows someone with a well-equipped garage. But when asked to lend the one tool needed for this-or-that, they will emit a nervous sound and shrug uncomfortably. VTL co-founder Caitlin Dorward, however, was lucky. Her neighbour was willing to loan a few things to her while she was building chicken coops for her backyard. “It just got us thinking about how awesome it would be if there was a neighbour that everyone could borrow things from. So that neighbour became the Vancouver Tool Library,” explains Dorward.
The VTL opened in July 2011, and their membership is growing steadily. Who wants to keep a table saw in their apartment anyway? The VTL has 996 and more incredibly useful (some seemingly useless, but actually indispensable) tools to make the project of your dreams a reality, or to address the long overdue but very necessary fix, from home repair and remodelling to gardening and bicycle repair. All are catalogued neatly online, complete with photos. Workshops run during the summer and cover all bases. “Intro to Tools” and “Intro to Bikes” are available for the uninitiated; more advanced programs also exist for the more seasoned tool user.
As for member projects, they really run the gamut. Handmade kites, a hammock stand inspired by a trip to Honduras, a kitchen organizer, a dog house outfitted with windows, a custom mandolin. “There was this guy who came in, he was taking an old school bus, this rusted out thing he found, and turning it into some sort of gypsy bus,” says shop manager Geoffrey Vincent, who has seen it all and more. A couple last summer restored their 33-foot sailboat in preparation for a cruise up the B.C. coast to Alaska. Items borrowed from the VTL for this whale of a project: large wrenches, grinder, hole-saws, sanders, extra clamps, and work lights.
The recent arrival of the highly requested Karcher 1500 PSI electric pressure washer (complete with two interchangable nozzles and hose), means it’s the newest celebrity at the VTL. Say no more. It’s tool time!