Canberra is getting its first ever tool library

Karyn Starmer 23 August 2021 12
Tom Spratt, Suzanne Richardson, Rebecca Tregurtha and Kathy Ehmann

From left: Community Toolbox Canberra organising committee members Tom Spratt, Suzanne Richardson, Rebecca Tregurtha and Kathy Ehmann. Photo: Canberra Community Toolbox.

Most of us will have an assortment of power tools stored away in the shed or garage that come out for the odd job, but have you given any thought to whether it is actually worth owning them?

You may use your cordless drill a few times a year, but the saw horse and circular saw you bought to make the kids’ cubbyhouse or planter boxes are probably still sitting there waiting for the next project you are too busy to start.

Apparently the average drill gets used for just seven minutes a year.

On the other side of the tool ownership conundrum is people who either don’t have the means to purchase the tools to do jobs around the home, or the space.

Canberra’s new tool library, Community Toolbox Canberra, is just like a book library, but it loans out useful equipment such as hammers, drills, circular saws and angle grinders, and opens opportunities to borrow items beyond tools.

Community Toolbox Canberra will allow members to borrow items to build a chook pen, paddle down a river, make a feast and so much more.

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Recently securing a suitable venue after a long search, Community Toolbox Canberra hopes to open its doors in September with the support of local sustainability organisation SEE-Change.

For the equivalent of buying one tool a year, members will be able to borrow a range of tools and equipment for DIY, craft, gardening and home projects and recreational activities as the library collection grows.

The tool library, located on the grounds of Youth With a Mission in Watson, is planning to launch after the COVID-19 lockdown ends.

Organising committee member Rebecca Tregurtha says a tool library is a much more affordable, and space and resource conscious way to create a shared pool of equipment.

“Everyone should have the means to create, try a new hobby or make their home more liveable,” she says. “But we shouldn’t need to buy and store all the associated equipment to make it happen.

“All throughout Canberra, tools and equipment are sitting in cupboards and sheds, with their owners wondering if they’ll ever use them again.

Community Toolbox Canberra building in Watson

Community Toolbox Canberra is located in the grounds of Youth With a Mission, off the Federal Highway in Watson. Photo: Community Toolbox Canberra.

“The Community Toolbox Canberra will facilitate those items being available to the wider community, maximising their intensity of use. It will be an important part of Canberra’s sharing economy and provide members with annual access to a broad range of tools and equipment for what it would cost to buy one tool.”

Using the tried and tested library model that has been successful around the world, Community Toolbox Canberra will lend old and modern tools and equipment for craft, household and leisure activities.

There has been immense interest in the Community Toolbox Canberra project. The organising committee has raised almost $12,000 in crowdfunding – including a generous donation from the Bendigo Community Bank Canberra group – and will soon be accepting donations of good quality working tools and equipment.

“The money we have raised so far will be used to fit out the toolbox space, install signage and security, buy computer equipment and software to run the library, and contribute to the costs of maintaining and ensuring the safety of the equipment,” says Rebecca.

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“In talking to our members-in-waiting, we have discovered that people don’t actually need tools, they need control over their living space, freedom to explore their creativity and independence to give a new skill a go.

“Most people don’t need a drill – they need a hole in the wall. They don’t need a sewing machine – they need to create. They don’t need a kayak – they need an adventure.

“We can save money, space and the planet’s resources by embracing the sharing economy and living more sustainably.”

If you would like to donate funds to help get the Community Toolbox Canberra up and running, visit Start Some Good.

For more information on membership or donating suitable items and equipment, visit Community Toolbox Canberra.

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12 Responses to Canberra is getting its first ever tool library
Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 7:18 pm 31 Aug 21

Skye Rutherford, this could be really useful.

    Skye Rutherford Skye Rutherford 8:42 pm 31 Aug 21

    Fortress Epiphany I already have at least two of every tool ever created, thrown in boxes under the house

    Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 9:22 pm 31 Aug 21

    Skye Rutherford ok then,

Leon Arundell Leon Arundell 2:04 pm 31 Aug 21

Should the tool library be located in the Legislative Assembly 😉

    Spiral Spiral 2:44 pm 31 Aug 21

    Nah, you can’t use the tools in the Legislative Assembly until you’ve bought them.

Louise Luisa Louise Luisa 5:22 pm 30 Aug 21

I already have my own tool library, it’s Nathan Jenkins’ garage 😁

Serina Bird Serina Bird 10:40 am 30 Aug 21


Marty Goodisson Marty Goodisson 2:56 pm 29 Aug 21

Well done. The Mallacoota Tool Library was a really popular resource for locals after the Black Summer Fires until we lost our home base. We are about to relaunch with support from community and council. There an awesome Tool Library at Cobargo as well. Hope yours goes well 👍

Cherie Glare Cherie Glare 7:30 am 29 Aug 21

What a great idea

Sean XG Sean XG 5:21 pm 28 Aug 21

But I like being able to admire my own brushless Makita impact drill that goes ‘wrrrr, wrrr’

    Nathan Jenkins Nathan Jenkins 6:59 pm 30 Aug 21

    Sean XG You've always gotta give it two bzzz bzzz's, just to make sure it works

Elaine Malone Elaine Malone 3:46 pm 28 Aug 21

Great idea

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