The volunteers from the Brunswick Tool Library have been keeping people in local suburbs and across Melbourne DIY’ing in their downtime by delivering shared tools in local Car Next Door vans. Read on to see what cool DIY projects the tool library members have been making!
The Brunswick Tool Library (BTL) provides access to over 1,000 tools, from allen keys to arc welders and everything in between. For a small annual membership fee, you can get access to the tools and knowledge you need to do whatever you’ve dreamed of - whether it’s fitting out a campervan or fixing up that leaky tap.
“People get access to tools, as well as connecting with other people in the community through events like Repair Cafes,” says Seb, one of the volunteers from BTL.
“We share what we know about repair and DIY so we can make our community more sustainable together.”
BTL aims to share resources and build community, making it possible for anyone to make and mend things - not just those who can afford their own set of tools - or a shed to store them in!
Like Car Next Door, a tool library reduces the waste of duplicated ownership of under-utilised things: you can use tools when you need them, without having to buy them. They also accept donations of tools (saving them from landfill or a long, sad life at the back of the cupboard) and educate people on how to fix things rather than chucking them away.
When COVID hit and stage 3 lockdowns were put in place in Victoria, BTL had to shut down and make some plans. With rent still to pay, and many volunteers unable to help out, they needed a cost-effective and safe way to get tools in their members’ busy hands. There were a lot of people with a lot of spare time and a long list of projects they could finally get to!
A few of the members and volunteers were also sharing cars with Car Next Door. Seb from BTL said this gave some volunteers the idea to borrow a local van and offer home delivery of tools. They signed up to Car Next Door’s community plan and rented Matt’s huge Ford Transit van for the first day of deliveries.
The van was great - and big enough to fit a few full-sized ladders - but it proved a little tricky to manoeuvre in narrow streets, so they switched to smaller vans for deliveries after that. Seb and the volunteers have been able to deliver tools that help people get on with projects like:
- Ben borrowed a ladder, fork and spade to make a vegetable garden
- Anna borrowed made a home organiser and TV stand from wood offcuts and a sander to give her coffee table a new look
- Jono doesn’t have a car, but luckily he lives next door to a construction site and has made friends with the builders so he can get heaps of scrap timber! He made a shoe rack, storage box (with the handle made from an old belt), laptop stand for working from home, step stool with a slide-out section for a record player, and a towel ladder
- Ingrid picked up hard rubbish finds including an aquarium and borrowed a hole saw to make a hole in the table for the cables and air pump for the fish. She also borrowed a drop saw to cut scrap timber into firewood for cooking on a pit fire in the backyard, and two cute mini shelves in the kitchen for holding utensils
The tool library is now open again for pick-ups, and still doing deliveries in the Car Next Door vans.
“We’re always looking for volunteers. You don’t need to be an expert with tools. Volunteering is a great way to connect with your community and learn more about working with your hands.”
Anyone in Melbourne can sign up for a membership online or join Brunswick Tool Library as a volunteer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.