Home Truck Gear Stop power tools gathering dust in your garage; use a tool library

Stop power tools gathering dust in your garage; use a tool library

There are two types of DIYers in New Zealand: The people who have a project that they would get on with only if the tool required didn’t cost hundreds of dollars.

And the people who bought said tool, used it once or twice, and tell their partner “there’s no sense in throwing it out”, although there’s no space left in the garage and all the thing does is gather dust.

Both of these people would benefit from a membership to a tool library or ‘makerspace’.

Helena Teichrib first discovered makerspaces in London and thought the concept would take off in New Zealand.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Helena Teichrib first discovered makerspaces in London and thought the concept would take off in New Zealand.

The basic idea is that instead of one person investing a lot of cash upfront in a specialised tool that they might only need for one job, a community buys and shares them all. They also share the cost of the storage and work space, which is great for apartment-dwellers.

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Helena Teichrib and her ex-partner Joran Kikke picked up the idea in London and brought it back to a couple of industrial units in Kingsland, Auckland in 2017.

The Hackland workshop is now a thriving community of 40 regular members and also opens to the public on Thursday evenings.

Anyone is welcome to stop by for a turn on the power tools, laser-cutters, 3D printers, soldering irons, screen cutters and sewing machines.

Hackland is open to the public on Thursday evenings.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Hackland is open to the public on Thursday evenings.

A makerspace looks like someone thought to combine all the Year 7 technology workshops and then took it to the next level for hobby-starved Millennials. There are teachers – sort of – but no rules.

Many of the members, who are mostly young professionals, are designers, builders, and engineers who lead workshops on their area of expertise. If there’s a skill you want to learn, just ask.

“People are motivated to join a makerspace for different reasons,” said Teichrib.

“Some people don’t want to sit on their own in their own garage, they come for the community. Some people just wouldn’t be able to afford the hobby any other way. And others do it for ecological reasons, they don’t want to waste resources.”

The ALOT stocks a wide range of tools and equipment, not just building and DIY tools but also gardening, textiles, kitchenware, event equipment and camping gear (which they are currently expanding).

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The ALOT stocks a wide range of tools and equipment, not just building and DIY tools but also gardening, textiles, kitchenware, event equipment and camping gear (which they are currently expanding).

Hackland also houses the volunteer-run Auckland Library of Tools, which was launched by Tom Greer and Amanda Chapman in April 2019. ALOT is more suited to people who have a home renovation project to undertake.

The average drill is used for less than 15 minutes in its life. The rest of the time, it sits depreciating in basements, garages or storage units.

“When you consider the rare earth minerals, materials and other resources that get used up in the process of making and distributing that drill, it makes so much more sense to have those tools available to share instead,” said Greer.

ALOT membership starts at $25 and members can take home up to 10 items a week from the collection of more than 650 tools, most of which were donated. ALOT also stocks textiles, kitchenware, event equipment and camping gear.

Since their start last year, about 300 people have made more than 2600 loans from the Auckland Library of Tools.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Since their start last year, about 300 people have made more than 2600 loans from the Auckland Library of Tools.

The most popular rentals are the power sanders, circular saws, an extension ladder, and lawn mowers. Since their start last year, about 300 people have made more than 2600 loans.

“During the recent lockdown, garden tools and sewing equipment were by far the most popular items,” said Greer.

“We purchased a new garden shredder as our other one was frequently checked out and quite small,” with a WIMF grant from Auckland Council.

“The shredder has been in high demand and I’ve never seen it stay in the library for longer than one open day.”

The most popular rentals are the power sanders, circular saws, an extension ladder, and lawn mowers.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The most popular rentals are the power sanders, circular saws, an extension ladder, and lawn mowers.

A story that came out of the Toronto Tool Library inspired Greer to attempt something similar here: A single tool, a plumber’s auger, had saved the community around $50,000 Canadian dollars in one year.

An auger is a simple tool used to clear blockages in a toilet. Most people don’t own one (why would you?) so when your toilet is blocked you have no choice but to buy a moderately expensive tool that you’ll probably use once, or to pay a plumber $100 plus for a ten-minute job.

“To us, that seemed like a waste of resources,” he said.

Most of the tools and materials in Hackland and the ALOT were donated by members of the public because they were sitting unused in a garage.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Most of the tools and materials in Hackland and the ALOT were donated by members of the public because they were sitting unused in a garage.

“We’ve seen so many great projects completed with the tools we have, everything from planter boxes to community gardens and tiny houses. One member has even converted a refrigerated truck into a portable sauna.”

Both Teichrib and Greer think the luxury of space in New Zealand is why we haven’t seen more tool libraries and shared spaces pop up. However, as or population grows and more people live in small, urban spaces they could fill an important need.

“The library helps people share. It’s a simple idea, but one that is difficult for individuals to coordinate at scale. What we’re doing, essentially, is unlocking wealth already present in the community,” he said.

They would like to see tool libraries and makerspaces made available in every New Zealand city.

TOOL LIBRARIES AROUND NZ

Whāingaroa Environment Centre tool library, Raglan

Auckland Library of Tools, Kingsland

Waiuku Tool Library, Waiuku (launching next month)

Newtown Tool Library, Wellington

Tool Lendery, Christchurch

Hackland members Alex Guthrie, Helena Teichrib, and Will Leizorowicz.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Hackland members Alex Guthrie, Helena Teichrib, and Will Leizorowicz.

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