Low Tech Tool Library


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.

Hand Tools

Axes: Broad¹, Felling, Pick, Splitting Maul
Allen Wrenches¹
Bit-and-Brace Drill¹
Channel Locks¹
Extendable Magnet
Hammer: Blacksmith, Claw, Rubber
Hammer Tacker¹
Screwdrivers: Socket Head
Squares: Framing, Speed, Try
Utility Knives

Gardening Tools

Fence-Post Driver
Hoes: Flat, Scuffle
Live Trap, Medium¹
Post-Hole Digger
Pruners: Bypass, Hedge Shears, Lopper, Saw
Rakes: Gravel, Leaf
Shovels: Short-Handled Spades, Long-Handled Spade¹, Long-Handled Pointed Shovel¹
Spading Fork
Garden Seeder

Power Tools

Brad Gun, Electric
Drills, Electric Corded: 3.2 amp¹ and 6 amp ($25 refundable deposit)
Drill, Electric Cordless: 2 amp ($25 refundable deposit)
Drill Guide
Drill Accessories: 12″ Extension¹, Concrete Bit¹, Cutting Wheel¹, Grinding Points, Hole Saw Bits¹, Phillips¹, Flat Head¹, Star Bits¹, Spade Bits¹, Twist Bits¹, Wire Brush Wheels¹
Staple Gun, Electric

Drywall, Tiling, Masonry, Concrete, and Plaster Tools

Concrete Chisels: 1-in¹, 4-in¹
Keyhole Saw
Masonry Brush¹
Mud Mixing Pan¹
Sledge Hammer¹
Taping Knives: 12-in¹, corner¹
Tile Cutter¹
Trowels: Notched (Square¹ and V¹), Rectangular¹, Corner¹
Utility Knife (10¢/day fee)

Plumbing Tools

Blowtorch¹ ($10 refundable deposit)
Drain Snake¹
Pipe Cutter¹

Safety Equipment

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

Measuring Equipment

Folding Rule
Laser Leveler
Levels: 1-ft, 4-ft
Measuring Tapes
Snap Line
Stud Finder

Electrical Equipment

Ohm Meter

Painting Equipment

Caulk Gun
Paint Brushes
Paint Sprayer²
Roller Pan¹
Roller Body¹

Bicycle Tools

Bottom Bracket Wrenches¹³
Chain Pin Puller¹³
Crank Puller¹³
Cup Wrenches¹³
Freewheel Removers¹³
Spoke Wrench¹³

Wood Tools

Axes: Broad, Felling, Splitting Maul
Saws: Bow, Cross-Cut, Keyhole, Rip
Splitting Wedges


Brake Bleeder Kit¹
Flat-Tire Patching Kit¹
Pipe Bender¹


¹Long-term loan from S. Johnson
²Long-term loan from others
³In-library use only

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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