SouthEast PortlandTool Library
Like the public library... but for tools

Tool Library FAQ

Hours and Location

Our Hours

If you are on a large screen, find our hours atop the right column on every page of the website.

But on a small screen that column is pushed down near the bottom of the page just below the main content.

Our Location

1137 SE 20th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
at corner of SE 20th and Salmon

You can help

Can I make a donation?

Yes indeed! See our Donations page for how to donate.

Why should I donate?

You’ll be helping a valuable community resource grow to  serve more of your neighbors. You will be investing in improving the quality of  life and safety of Southeast Portland. You can deduct  your donation(s) on your personal or business taxes. On our Sponsors page, we will co-market your  business to our members and the community.

How else can I help?

We need your time, talents, and energies to help us grow and  succeed. We’re especially looking for:

  • Volunteers who can help in the Library during our open hours
  • Someone with grant writing experience (!!!).
  • Some help with tool maintenance,
  • New Board Members  – to help guide SEPTL into the future.
  • Some help photographing all our tools for our online inventory page
  • Finally we’re looking for people who’d enjoy calling members in the evening from home (using a free calling number if you wish)  to remind them when their tools are overdue.

Just let us know how you’d like to help.

General questions

Our Hours

If you are on a large screen, find our hours atop the right column on every page of the website.

But on a small screen that column is pushed down near the bottom of the page just below the main content.

Our Location

1137 SE 20th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
at corner of SE 20th and Salmon

Late Fines?

Tools are due back in 7 days, before a time deadline posted in the Library (but as of this writing is 11 am on Saturday and closing time on weekdays.)

Late returns result in Late Fines which are easily calculated: Non-power tools are $1/week overdue, and Power tools are $2/week overdue. You may pay in cash, by check or online (we use Square at the Library for credit cards).

The fines are used to maintain our tools, buy new ones, pay the rent, etc. Know that the money is being well spent.

Hey, what is a tool library anyway?

It’s a lending library, but with tools instead of books. And it’s more than that really. It’s a way to meet your neighbors, a way to reduce consumption by sharing, and a  way to build a strong and vibrant community.

Why should I join?

A tool library is great for people who don’t have a lot of  money to buy their own tools or space to store them. You can also borrow tools  you need only once in a while instead of paying to buy or rent them.

What are your Rules?

Our complete Rules are here. A very brief summary of some of the high points:

  • You may borrow tools for 7 days, and if they are returned later than the time deadline on the due date, a fine must be paid.
  • Tools should be return clean, and filters or bags emptied, and without damage.
  • If you notice damage or a malfunctioning tool, be sure to tell us.
  • If you notice a tool that appears to have a hazardous defect, stop using it immediately and report the problem to us.
  • For liability reasons, you may never allow anyone else to use a tool you have borrowed.
  • Tools can not be reserved. They are always first-come first-served.
  • You might be allowed to Renew a tool, but must bring it in, before it’s overdue, to get permission.
  • Return tools only during our open hours so we can inspect and check them in on the computer. NEVER leave tools outside the door – this will result in the loss of borrowing privileges.

Who actually runs the tool library?

There is a Board consisting of dedicated members who help administer the tool library. In addition, there are  several other members who offer the Board invaluable assistance. But in the end, it is the Volunteers who work during the Library’s open hours who keep the Library open and alive.

Membership topics

How do I sign up?

Visit the Join the Library page to read the Rules and the Member Agreement, fill out your information, and sign the Membership Agreement. Then come on in to the library and be sure to bring your Photo ID and your Proof of Residency (all this is described on the Join page), and you’re ready to borrow!

How much does it cost?

It’s free to join and to borrow tools. That said,  when you join we will ask you for a one-time optional Enrollment Donation of $10-$40 to help us buy and maintain all those tools that you get to borrow!

Who can join / where must I live to join this Tool Library/ which neighborhoods?

  • Any resident of Southeast Portland over the age of 18 who can show acceptable proof of identity and residency within the SEUplift service area, which is bounded on the west by the Willamette River and east by I-205 north of Division St & by 82nd Ave south of Division St., and north by I-84 (the Banfield Expressway), and south roughly by Johnson Creek Rd (i.e. within the city limits of Portland). Their map: SEUplift service area map.
  • Proof of identity can be a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued identification with photo. Proof of residency can be the driver’s license if it has your current address, or if not then a utility bill, mortgage statement, lease agreement, car-insurance card, or similar document that shows your current address.
  • If you live outside our service area, perhaps you’ll be eligible to join the other Tool Libraries in Portland, or start one yourself – we’ll help!

About the tools

What kind of tools do you have?

Plenty. Right now we have mostly home-repair,woodworking, automotive, painting, bike, gardening and cleaning tools. And seeds.  See the Tools page for a full searchable list of our tools.

Do you have power tools?

Yes, electric and air powered. For safety reasons we can not store or lend out gas-powered tools or tools that contain or use hazardous materials.

Where can I learn how to use a tool, or ask how to do a project?

You can learn about the specific tool you’ve borrowed by reading its owner’s manual here: https://www.manualshelf.com/

For help with more general questions:

We’ll be offering workshops that will cover a wide range of topics, however library volunteers are unable to offer advice, due to liability issues. Of course that neighbor standing right next to you at the Library might be more than happy to help you out! In addition, we have assembled here a short list of public online forums where you are likely to find answers to most of your tool, gardening, and home project questions (can you suggest other good sites for us to add here?):

This Old House

Bob Vila

Wood Working Talk

Fine Woodworking

Organic Gardening

Borrowing Tools

Late Fines?

Tools are due back in 7 days, before a time deadline posted in the Library (but as of this writing is 11 am on Saturday and closing time on weekdays.)

Late returns result in Late Fines which are easily calculated: Non-power tools are $1/week overdue, and Power tools are $2/week overdue. You may pay in cash, by check or online (we use Square at the Library for credit cards).

The fines are used to maintain our tools, buy new ones, pay the rent, etc. Know that the money is being well spent.

How do I check out and return tools?

Members can simply stop by the Library during open hours to pick up the tools they need. Then return them 7 days later before the time deadline, or sooner when we’re open. NEVER leave tools outside the door – this will result in the loss of borrowing privileges. ONLY return the tools to us when we can inspect them and check them back in to our computer system.

Can I reserve the tools I want to borrow?

Tools are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

How can I know if a tool has been borrowed by someone else, or is available now for me?

Check the Tools page to see which tools are currently available (that is an up-to-the-moment, live list) or when they are due back, or come in to the Library during our open hours to see if the tool is there for you to borrow.

For how long can I have the tools?

Tools must be returned within 7 days, and before a time deadline posted in the library. One renewal may be possible if you come in to the SEPTL WITH THE TOOL before the hour the tools are due on the scheduled return date. Really popular items can not be renewed as there is simply too much demand for them. Late fees will be charged for overdue items. These fines help us maintain tools and buy new tools for you, so be heartened that these funds are being well spent.

Can someone else use my account or use the tools I borrow?

No. For safety and liability reasons, only you can check out and use tools from the Library. Family members can join to be able to use the tools!