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Looking For A Tile Cutter? Denver's New Tool Lending Library Will Have You Covered

Lindsay Dalton
The DTL will empower local makers like Tina Graziano of Blade & Knoll.

If you have ever wished you could borrow the right tool for the job, instead of shelling out for something you're going to use just once, Sarah Steiner has an idea for you.

"[Maybe] you just need this one project in your house done, but do you need a tile cutter forever?" she asked.

Most folks don't. And for those in occasional need of a bandsaw, Steiner and her co-founder Lindsay Dalton are starting a tool lending library in Denver.

The idea is pretty much what it sounds like. It works just like a book library, but instead of books, there are tools, Steiner explains.

"You buy an annual membership, and it's $60 -- $5 a month. And that's pretty much it. Then you are a member just like you are a member of the public library," she said.

Steiner is a fan of what is sometimes referred to as the "sharing economy," a new business model of paying for shared resources. This idea underpins services like Lyft, a car sharing program, and Airbnb, where users share homes.

She also sees the tool library as a way to build community.

"When you are sharing these things you are interacting with your community more, and so everybody becomes more empowered that way."

Credit Jennifer Toninelo
Set up for a fundraiser filmed on behalf for the Denver Tool Library.

She also hopes having tools available may encourage folks without building experience to give it a try.

"Some people don't know what they can do, and think they can't use a saw because they have never used one before," Steiner said. She thinks having access to a tool library could change that.

While there is a tool library in Boulder, members still pay to rent tools by the day, and she wanted the tools in Denver's library to be free after the price of membership, she said.

Steiner hopes the library will open in early 2015. Her planning for it started about a year ago, and she spent months looking at the 50 or so tool lending libraries in cities across the country, in search of a good model.

On Sept. 6, the library had its first tool drive, a party where entry was either a tool donation or $10, to help fund the project. They plan to launch an IndieGoGo campaign in November, raising money to buy their library software, apply for nonprofit status, and pay for a space. Once they become a nonprofit, they will be eligible to apply for grants to support the library over the long term.

Ideally, the space, which Steiner is working on pinning down, will have a workshop so those with limited room in their own apartments can work on projects inside the library facility.

Steiner encouraged those interested in the library to go to the website and fill out a survey, which will help shape the library's offerings. Those interested in volunteering can note that on the survey, and sign up for the library's email newsletter, she said.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn has been reporting from Colorado for more than five years, primarily from the Western Slope.
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