Low Tech Tool Library



(but we’re currently accepting tool and funding donations)

Donate Now!

Welcome to the Low Technology Institute’s Tool Library homepage. A tool library functions just like your local library but we’ve got saws, tile cutters, and hammers instead of Hemingway, Updike, and Austen. How many of us have bought a tool for a project, only to use it once and never again? Instead, why not borrow the tool from the library (and donate those old, unused tools for others to use)?

The library will open in the spring of 2018 but we are currently accepting tools and funds. If you’re in the area and have tools that have not been used in a while, please consider donating them to the library. Any donation of $50.00 or over will come with a free, one-year membership to the institute. Donating $100 or more will get your name included on the wall and website as a major contributor to this project as well as a free one-year membership. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, we can provide you with a tax-deduction receipt for your generosity.

The library is open to institute members, residents of the Town of Porter, Wisconsin (a 36-sq-mi township to the northeast of Evansville, including the village of Cooksville, Badfish Creek, and Gibbs Lake), and members of the Cooksville community outside of the town of Porter.

We’re generally open 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Monday–Saturday and most other times by appointment. Before dropping by without a reservation, it is best to call 608-886-9584 to confirm the staff is not out running errands. You can address tool library questions to tools@lowtechinstitute.org.

How Does It Work?

You can reserve a tool by first checking the availability calendar, below. Find a time your desired tools are not reserved, go to this form, and fill out your personal information and tool request. Stop by the institute to pick up your tool. Most tools are completely free and able to be borrowed for a week with a few exceptions. Some power tools may be available for a shorter period and require a refundable deposit to be left behind (credit card, check, or cash, although if this is a problem, please tell us). Additionally, some tools require a nominal fee to help maintain them. For example, a circular saw needs a new blade after a certain amount of use, so we’ll request 25¢/day for its rental. Return the tool(s) on or before the due date. Late returns will incur a 25¢/day/tool late fee or $10/day/tool if another person has reserved it right after you and has to wait. By borrowing the tool, you assume responsibility for it, that is, if you damage someone or something, the institute and library are not responsible and if you break a tool worth more than $10, you will be asked to replace it with a tool in similar condition. That’s it.

Make a Reservation

Wait, How is This Free?

The tool library is a service hosted by the Low Technology Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The tools are purchased and donated by community and institute members. Funds to pay for the tool wall, tools, replacement and maintenance parts, and labor come from donations, late and usage fees, and sale of extra tools.

Can I Donate my Tools or Time?

Yes. We’re currently accepting new or used tools in working order (and in some cases nonworking order; email us to ask). If we already have a tool that you’d like to donate, we’ll still gladly accept it; if your tool is in better shape, we’ll replace the one we currently have on hand, and any extra tools will be sold on Craigslist or to community members to help fund the tool library. You can receive a donation receipt for tax deductions, just like donating to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul. We will have a “Leave a Nail, Take a Nail” policy if people have or need some extra odds and ends: nails, screws, bolts, nuts, etc. We do accept funds to build and maintain the library; these donations are also tax deductible.

We’re always looking for volunteers to help maintain the tool library. Tools not being used need to be sharpened, oiled, and cleaned. We have the equipment and know-how, but we don’t have all the time required.

Help spread the word by sharing this promotional flier.

Current Holdings

Click on any of the tool categories below for an expanded list of our current holdings.


General Tools

Hammers: General Claw, Framing, Sledge
Levels: 1 ft, 4 ft
Mallets: Rubber
Measuring Tapes:
Plumb Bob
Saws: Handsaw
Screwdrivers: Phillips (+), Flat-Head (-), Star Bit
Squares: Quick

Gardening Tools

Cultivator, Electric ($200 refundable deposit, two-day borrow)
Forks: Spading
Hoes: Flat, Pointed
Rakes: Concrete, Leaf
Shovel: Spade (pointed), Flat-Nosed
Scythe: Ditch

Power Tools

Staplers: Electric Medium Utility ($50 refundable deposit), Electric Brad ($50 refundable deposit), Small Utility

Drywall, Tiling, Masonry, Concrete, and Plaster Tools

Concrete Chisels: 1 in, 4 in
Grout Float
Hammers: Sledge
Trowel: Margin, Notched (Square and V), Pointed, Rectangular
Mud Mixing Pan
Sanding Block
Taping Knives: 4-in, 12-in, corner
Tile Cutter
Utility Knife (10¢/day fee)

Plumbing Tools

Blowtorch ($1/day fee or provide own propane, $10 refundable deposit)
Drain Snake
Pipe Cutter

Safety Equipment

Ear Plugs (nonreturnable, please keep them)
Leather Gloves
Safety Glasses

Painting Equipment

Roller Pan
Roller Body

Bicycle Tools

Chain Pin Puller
Cup Wrenches
Bottom Bracket Wrenches
Allen Wrenches


Make a Reservation

Thank You to our Significant Donors

Get your name or organization added to this list, which is also printed on our tool wall, by donating $100 or more to the library.

Eric Gratta – Madison, WI
Betty Cleeland – Chicago, IL