Come the end of May, students in Heritage Carpentry and Joinery at Algonquin College’s Perth campus will be able to walk into the school’s library and take out not only books, but tools they might not otherwise have access to.
The tool library trend has been growing for several years and came to the area in 2014, when the Ottawa Tool Library set up shop. A tool library is simply a place where people with lots of tools can donate theirs for people to borrow and return just like library books.
Jack Hollinger, coordinator of Heritage Carpentry and Joinery program at the college, said that the idea came to him not out of trendiness, but out of necessity.
“I just kind of got the idea because I’ve constantly got people coming up to me asking, ‘Can I borrow this to take home? Can I take this?’ So I thought jeez, we’ve got to have a better way,” he said.
Hollinger teamed up with another instructor from the program, Jim Stinson, to make Perth’s tool library a reality. But this one will be a bit different than most. Usually, tool libraries are filled with tools donated by people who have already used them, whereas the library at the Perth campus will be filled with brand new tools, thanks to the generosity of Robyn Lee, president of Lee Valley Tools, a Canadian woodworking and gardening tool company first established in Ottawa.
Hollinger said that Lee agreed to provide the bulk of the tools from the company’s manufacturing line Veritas. The donations will all be hand tools, things like hand planes, chisels, saws, items that students can’t necessarily take home from the school’s wood shop, or don’t have the money to buy on their own.
For Corey Pool, who’s near graduating from the two-year program thinks a hand tool library would extremely beneficial. “It’s great because most students are on a budget and can’t afford all the heritage stuff,” said Pool. “And as apprenticing carpenters learning the trade, it’s important to experiment, so having the hand tools available to take home would be great.”
Hollinger also noted that Lee Valley will be donating replacement blades for planes, and extras for chisels and things of the like, so that when an item is taken out, another can be restored for future use. A position will be created so that each year, one student will be able to maintain the tools in the library.
Currently Stinson is fashioning a cabinet that will be placed in the wall behind the desk in the Library, where librarian Kendra Swallow will be able to track the tools like she does books. For Swallow, it will be a new experience.
“I definitely didn’t know that much about hand tools before I started here, but I’ve learned a lot, and will learn much more now,” she said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for the students to be able to have access to a variety of things they wouldn’t necessarily before.”
Hollinger has sent a list to Lee, and that he expects around 60 tools or so to start off the collection. If the project is successful, the library will open up to the public for donations and loans. Hollinger’s already planning on donating.
“I’ve got a good collection of sash tools and stair making tools, and I’ve got a lot of antique tools too,” he said. “We will phase those things in over the next year or two.”
This article first appeared in the May issue of Hometown News.