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paul wheaton
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I remember when I lived in a community about five years ago, I had more tools than everybody else combined. And all I asked is that people asked me before using my tools. Which they didn't do. And I frequently found my stuff abused and laying about. I also had a huge bucket of wood screws. I think I paid $125 for the bucket. And folks just seemed to help themselves.

I found that I would go to use my stuff only to find my drill bits were dull or missing. One time I had to go knocking on doors to find my drill and when I found it I reminded them that I would rather that they ask before using my stuff. I was told how I shouldn't be so negative - after all it was around, it wasn't stolen or anything.

I remember being on my farm on mount spokane and people would throw tools in the back of the golf cart and then drive the golf cart way too fast. So the tools would bounce out. I would find tools all over the fields.

I am a little shocked at myself how angry this would make me. It seemed so disrespectful. Granted, it is an inanimate object - so it isn't like some creature was killed when a tool would be left out in the wild.

I know my brother is bringing a mountain of tools. I know that other people are bringing a mountain of tools. I am beginning to already worry that there might be folks that are less-than-respectful to the tools of others and how to mitigate this before there is even a problem.

Naturally, it is easy to make up some rules. And, I'm sure that everybody would have no problem agreeing to those rules. And then shit happens and .... things get awkward.

Rather than going down the "rules" path, I have a bizarre fantasy. That the people that have listened to the podcasts are of a different sort. And that there is such a powerful desire to get along with others, that the use of somebody else's tools would be an opportunity to demonstrate respect for that person. So rather than having the problems described above, it actually works the opposite way. Borrowing a tool is an opportunity to build good, string, healthy community.

That said, I do think it is wise to clearly mark tools to show who owns them. Maybe this thread would be a good place to convey ideas on how to do that. Engraving? Colored tape?

Maybe we could come up with a way of marking tools that are for everybody. Tools that were perhaps donated to the empire. ??

Ideas?
 
nathan luedtke
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You should do a "Tools" podcast, and to borrow your tools, the borrower must have listened to that podcast.

In Helen and Scott Nearing's "The Good Life", there is at least a full chapter devoted to tool procedure- what tools they use, how they use them, how they organize them, how to clean them at the end of the day, how they periodically maintain them. I thought it was one of the best chapters in a book full of great chapters.
 
Ryan Barrett
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Looks like engraving initials is a preferred method. The Garage Journal

I like the idea of instilling some ownership/financial responsibility with some sort of Tool co-op or Lending library setup.

 
Kelly Kitchens
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Location: Tulsa, OK (zone 7a)
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Ok. First tool going in my truck for the trip north is my engraver!
 
R Scott
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When I worked on a fence crew, we each had our own "blaze" combination of stripes (duct tape or spray paint) on the tool. High contrast obnoxious colors so you could see them easier when dropped in the tall grass. And everyone knew their own mark.

+1 on the lending library. Different crew, but all the common tools had the pegboard with silhouettes to know quick when something was missing. Each crew member had several tags--we had to put one of our tags on the peg for the tool when we borrowed it. If we got caught with a tool without our tag on the board, we lost a tag (so we couldn't borrow as many tools at a time) and had to donate to the tool and beer fund (only spent on beer if the tools didn't get broke).
 
Mike Cantrell
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paul wheaton wrote:I remember when I lived in a community about five years ago, I had more tools than everybody else combined. And all I asked is that people asked me before using my tools. Which they didn't do. And I frequently found my stuff abused and laying about.

...

Ideas?


I wonder if it's a matter of perspectives/experience. Until I started accumulating any tools of my own, they just didn't carry much significance to me. I didn't have any concept that they mattered much. It was maybe similar to... say, the way everybody has furniture. Everybody has furniture, and everybody's ok with you sitting on their couch. That what couches are there for, right? You don't ask, usually, if it's ok before you sit on somebody's couch.

So my experience with tools was limited (I mean, my experience with everything was limited, because I just hadn't been alive that long), and as I look back, it seems like tools were in my mind kind of similar to furniture. Everybody has some, you use them less often so maybe you ask first... but still just a part of the house.

After I started getting some of my own, trying to do hard jobs with inadequate tools and wishing for better ones, saving up for expensive ones, lending them and feeling the worry... after that I developed a sense of respect. And appreciation. But until that happened, it just didn't register with me. Had no meaning, like the way plants along the road were just a green wall before I learned which ones were which.

Maybe if your old colleagues had no experience with tools (wouldn't be surprising since, as you mentioned, they hardly owned any), maybe if they had no experience with tools then tools didn't carry much weight in their minds. Maybe they take a paper towel to wipe up a spill, maybe they take enough nails to build a shed, and the two are roughly equivalent to them.

I don't know, I wasn't there. Think that's in the right ballpark?

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Mike Cantrell wrote:I wonder if it's a matter of perspectives/experience. Until I started accumulating any tools of my own, they just didn't carry much significance to me. I didn't have any concept that they mattered much.


Mike Cantrell wrote:After I started getting some of my own, trying to do hard jobs with inadequate tools and wishing for better ones, saving up for expensive ones, lending them and feeling the worry... after that I developed a sense of respect. And appreciation. But until that happened, it just didn't register with me. Had no meaning, like the way plants along the road were just a green wall before I learned which ones were which.

Maybe if your old colleagues had no experience with tools (wouldn't be surprising since, as you mentioned, they hardly owned any), maybe if they had no experience with tools then tools didn't carry much weight in their minds. Maybe they take a paper towel to wipe up a spill, maybe they take enough nails to build a shed, and the two are roughly equivalent to them.


It sounds like you learned a healthy respect for the value of good tools, Mike, though I wonder if there's another aspect to this.

As a child, I enjoyed my toys and took care that they weren't broken or ruined. When other kids broke my toys, I was appalled. If I broke a friend's toy, I would be horrified. As a child.

I don't know if it was my upbringing (plenty of Catholic guilt to be sure) or an over developed sense of empathy.

I've witnessed other kids (both in my generation and friends of my grown children over the years as they grew) who don't care about breaking toys or ownership. In fact, some take delight in destroying things. One little neighbor boy was asked to leave several times because he would intentionally smash things. Urgh.

There are those friends who remember you loaned them five bucks and will give it back to you as soon as they see you next. And there are those friends who have absolutely no recollection that you ever gave them anything and who will (probably) never think to repay you.

I think that even without a Catholic upbringing (ribbing here) some people either already have a healthy sense of respect for ownership or they learn it quickly in early adulthood. And there could be some who just might never get this.

If something is loaned to me - a tool, a lamp, a kitchen gadget or whatever - that thing is a different color in my spectrum of perception. It is not mine, and is treated differently and kept as best as I can imagine the owner would like it kept. And it's physically kept apart as well - both so it doesn't get confused as part of my things, and as a sore thumb-type reminder to return it soon. My step-dad loaned me a battery charger and extension cord recently, and both stayed right inside the front door so I could get them back to him as soon as possible.

I was this way as a kid, before I even starting earning my own money, so I didn't have to learn it through appreciating purchases as an adult. It makes me wonder what else influences these kinds of things.



 
Jocelyn Campbell
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R Scott wrote:When I worked on a fence crew, we each had our own "blaze" combination of stripes (duct tape or spray paint) on the tool. High contrast obnoxious colors so you could see them easier when dropped in the tall grass. And everyone knew their own mark.

+1 on the lending library. Different crew, but all the common tools had the pegboard with silhouettes to know quick when something was missing. Each crew member had several tags--we had to put one of our tags on the peg for the tool when we borrowed it. If we got caught with a tool without our tag on the board, we lost a tag (so we couldn't borrow as many tools at a time) and had to donate to the tool and beer fund (only spent on beer if the tools didn't get broke).


I really like the "blaze" idea. Saw a hori knife on a guy the other day that had some of that hot pink "tape" (what is that stuff called?) knotted on the handle. I immediately thought how useful that would be to find it on the ground or in the grass.
 
John Redman
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R Scott wrote:When I worked on a fence crew, we each had our own "blaze" combination of stripes (duct tape or spray paint) on the tool. High contrast obnoxious colors so you could see them easier when dropped in the tall grass. And everyone knew their own mark.

A customer of mine used the color code to differentiate her and her husbands tools. Over the years if one or the other couldn't find thier tool, they grabbed the appropriate spray paint and after a few min. of dry time, went back to work. Now when a tool gets scratched or just used, you can see how many times it changed ownership.
 
R Scott
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Paul Redmond wrote:
R Scott wrote:When I worked on a fence crew, we each had our own "blaze" combination of stripes (duct tape or spray paint) on the tool. High contrast obnoxious colors so you could see them easier when dropped in the tall grass. And everyone knew their own mark.

A customer of mine used the color code to differentiate her and her husbands tools. Over the years if one or the other couldn't find thier tool, they grabbed the appropriate spray paint and after a few min. of dry time, went back to work. Now when a tool gets scratched or just used, you can see how many times it changed ownership.


LOL. I think the point was misplaced...
 
Bill Puckett
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I fear tape & engraving are not for me. RFID might be a possibility.

As a youth, my father taught me to respect people's property (at least) via the tools medium. I lost a friend's Dremel at Earthship Academy. I later gave him $50.
 
Rick LaJambe
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That's something that people need to be reminded of; if you break it or lose it, you are responsible for replacing it. Replace the broken item with an equal or higher quality item, never cheaper. Perhaps a price tag needs to be fixed to the tool board to remind people of the value so they may think twice before treating it like crap.
 
Tom Davis
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Every tool box I have has a built in lock or a place to put a padlock.
 
rodney johnson
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People are ignorant of there own ignorance, just go into there house and borrow there stuff and leave it all around there yard, when they get annoyed remind them of the tools they borrowed. than ask them what the difference is. Ignorance is also nature to nature and people must realize this.
SHTF-hell in a handbasket
My name is Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, real food distribution, or distribution of any goods, or any kind of organized law or government.
Might be good for others to read about the importance of what they do have and the true value of it. no fear information is shock resistance.
 
Julia Winter
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all the common tools had the pegboard with silhouettes to know quick when something was missing. Each crew member had several tags--we had to put one of our tags on the peg for the tool when we borrowed it. If we got caught with a tool without our tag on the board, we lost a tag (so we couldn't borrow as many tools at a time) and had to donate to the tool and beer fund (only spent on beer if the tools didn't get broke).


I love the tag idea, especially the part where a breach of trust leads to decreased privileges (you give up a tag, so you can't borrow as many tools). Of course, there needs to be a plan/system for restoring tags, or else your most impulsive group member will end up with none!

The silhouette board is not a new idea, but there's a reason it's so popular. It works. Adding the tags is a stroke of brilliance. One glance at the board and you know whom you need to find for the tool you are seeking.
 
kadence blevins
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Julia Winter wrote:
all the common tools had the pegboard with silhouettes to know quick when something was missing. Each crew member had several tags--we had to put one of our tags on the peg for the tool when we borrowed it. If we got caught with a tool without our tag on the board, we lost a tag (so we couldn't borrow as many tools at a time) and had to donate to the tool and beer fund (only spent on beer if the tools didn't get broke).


I love the tag idea, especially the part where a breach of trust leads to decreased privileges (you give up a tag, so you can't borrow as many tools). Of course, there needs to be a plan/system for restoring tags, or else your most impulsive group member will end up with none!

The silhouette board is not a new idea, but there's a reason it's so popular. It works. Adding the tags is a stroke of brilliance. One glance at the board and you know whom you need to find for the tool you are seeking.


ya what she said
 
Fred Morgan
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In a way, I have to deal with this all the time since I hire people who use my tools. Everyone wants to use tools, and say they know how to use them. My first question is, so what do you do before you use this tool? If they don't know, they don't use it.

If it is a motor, you check lube, water, etc. Make sure it has been greased, etc. If the person doesn't know how, they don't use the tool.

Then, when finished, what do you do? .... if it is a shovel, you clean it, perhaps shove it in a barrel with sand and a bit of used oil. (if not being used in the garden)

In other words, if you don't know how to take care of a tool, you don't know how to use it. If they know how to take care of a tool, you can pretty much assume they will be careful with the tool.
 
Bill Puckett
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Wow, Paul is being very generous with his track hoe. I hopped up on it today and it seems to be in pretty good shape. He told us it "purred like a kitten," but I have yet to hear that.
 
Leila Rich
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I use lurid electrical tape on all my tools. Right now it's yellow-and-green striped 'earthing tape'.
I put up a wee sign in places I often use my tools at, with a sample of 'my' tape and a request to return any marked tools to me.
I lose tools all over the place, so it's more about getting back things I've misplaced, rather than other people disrespecting them.

For me, an organised, well-resourced tool area is important, making it obvious that this is a place where tools are highly valued.
The old silhouette wall is really effective in keeping tools 'at home'.
Linseed, (or oil of choice) and an extensive cloth collection.
Sharpening gear and so on.
Offtopic but...when I was a kid, I was responsible for looking after the tools. I was definitely a bit of an oddball, but children generally love having something they're responsible for.
Of course there has to be something in place so that kids don't feel in trouble if some adult doesn't return their spade
Kids make great tool silhouette-painters too!
 
Ken Peavey
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I work on projects with several different contractors-steelworkers, electrical, HVAC, instrumentation, water blasters, millwrights...I'm with the refractory crew. Everyone has hoses, cords, lights, tools of all kind. Organized chaos is the environment, yet we somehow muddle through.

Storage
Each contractor will have some combination of a tool trailer, gang boxes, and a laydown yard. Tool trailers are often 53' big rigs loaded with shelves, racks, bins, and hangers, with someone assigned to keep track of tools. You need it, you sign it out, you are responsible for returning that tool at the end of your shift. If left on the job, someone else signs for it for the next shift. Some of these tools are pretty expensive. A drill motor can run 700 bucks. A sonar depth guage runs several thousand-you dont lose that one! These trailers and gang boxes are kept under lock and key when unattended

Each craftsman/journeyman will have their own set of tools. Some plants will inspect your toolbox when you bring it into the plant, with a list of the inventory. When you leave, you leave with only the items on that list. Personal tools are usually stored in a toolbox, some sort of satchel, or bucket.

Identification
Companies will mark tools most often with spray paint. My company is bright green. Another company will use, say, fluorescent pink. Writing the company name such as KBR is common, but can be ineffective in a messy environment. Some use tags. It is not uncommon at the end of a job to be missing tools or find more than you started with. Attempts are made to find owners and hunt down missing equipment. Personal tool identification covers a wide spectrum. Colored electrical tape, engraving, paint, and write your name on it. The best way to not lose your tools is keep it in your toolbox and don't set it down.

Tool Care
I've seen guys throw a $700 drill motor in the slop, then polish their $8 trowel to a high sheen. That motor didn't cost them a dime. If they have to buy another trowel, that's some fishing tackle they have to give up. It is difficult to inspire the men to concern themselves with the company tools, when they know the company will simply buy another one. What I do is personalize the tool: "This is your hammer. You have to turn it in at the end of the day, but in the meantime it's yours." For the most part, tools just sit around. Problems arise during transport, switching from one tool to another, and at breaks. The poor things get tossed around like trash, thrown down, dropped in the wet, covered with material, and left in the rain. Old tools are not common, and those tools with the most experience often do the best job.

For your situation, a plan is needed, lest you spend a fortune in replacement tools and decorate your land with rusty gear. Setting up procedures and ground rules at the start will be a worthy investment of your time and money.

I suggest the 3Ps:
Pick it up
Put it away
Paint it, or otherwise Properly maintain it

Tools need not be on the ground. Soil is the enemy of tools. Rust, corrosion, bits stuck in places the don't need to be. A 5 gallon bucket is a handy thing. Switching from one tool to another is the time when tools hit the ground. Sockets disappear into thin air. Screwdriver and drill bits evaporate. Nails and screws go into stealth mode waiting for bare feet and tires. Get the gear into the bucket so you don't lose it. If the best option for the job is to set it down, get into the habit of keeping them together, not in a heap, but in a line. You're not looking around for that wrench, it was put beside the widget. It's a little bit of extra work, but a habit which, if developed in a person, will greatly speed up the jobs to follow. The alternative is to spend many hours each year hunting down parts.

A well done job has a strong finish. The land is prepared, the plants are in, the flag is raised, now put the tools away, turn off the light and shut the door to the tool room. I've left buckets of tools out to be destroyed by the rain. I've left shovels stuck in the compost to rust. I still can't find my rake. Before you go to bed, put the tools away.

Maintenance of tools is easy enough. I've stained the wooden handles of most of my tools. A little WD-40 on a crescent wrench will keep it working. I roll up my electrical cords then tape them up with duct tape-neat, tidy, and ready to go next time. If lots of work is being done, once a month is reasonable to go through the tool room and check everything. Make sure it works, is clean, is in good repair, and is the right place.

Along with cultivating crops, cultivate the notion of taking care of those tools.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ken Peavey wrote:
I've seen guys throw a $700 drill motor in the slop, then polish their $8 trowel to a high sheen. That motor didn't cost them a dime. If they have to buy another trowel, that's some fishing tackle they have to give up. It is difficult to inspire the men to concern themselves with the company tools, when they know the company will simply buy another one. What I do is personalize the tool: "This is your hammer. You have to turn it in at the end of the day, but in the meantime it's yours."


In your experience, does this seem to help or make a difference?

Ken Peavey wrote:Along with cultivating crops, cultivate the notion of taking care of those tools.


Yes, cultivate care for tools - beautiful point. But how? Might some folks be incorrigible in this regard?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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The silhouette and tag technique is used as tool control in the aviation industry to ensure that no tools are left on an airplane. If I was to setup a tool library, I think I would use this technique.

I was at a conference last year and saw a snap-on tool cabinet with integrated RFID reader. The person borrowing the tool would have to log-on to an attached computer and the computer would know which tools were taken from the cabinet automatically. A little pricey for a small tool library, but definitely handy for an aviation workshop. It avoids cheating too.

Here is a picture:

 
Ken Peavey
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Sometimes, but not all the time. It comes down to each individuals pride in their work, attention to detail, and their professionalism. Some don't care about the tools, or the work, or the job. They are there because of the paycheck. I can be selective: for those who don't care about their tools, their next tool is a shovel. Someone who takes care of the tools will have more responsibility next time.

With my job we build big things. Massive vessels to process material in one way or another. Without the tools to do the work, we can't function. 'For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost.'

I push my people to become More, to better themselves in some way each day. It's not going to take in every case. Running a jackhammer and shoveling debris is the best some people can achieve. This is not necessarily a negative thing, but something to be used to advantage. We need some guys who are big and dumb. Even a jackhammer guy can improve himself by taking care of that jackhammer and putting away his shovel. If the guy is incorrigible, someone will take care of that jackhammer, I'll give that person more attention. This does not mean I treat the guy like he's big and dumb. He gets the same respect and dignity as everyone else on the job. I got some guys who are so dumb they can't complete a sentence but they know when someone does them wrong. Work with them, show them how to do it, show them again and again if need be. Patience! If they catch on, great! If they don't, the respect you showed during it all will inspire loyalty and dedication: tools you can't get at the hardware store.



 
Fred Morgan
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One other thing Paul, you might use tool care as a filtering for who gets to stay in your kingdom. I sure do in business. Make sure everyone knows up front that carelessness with tools is ground for being thrown out. The reason is simple, a person who doesn't not respect what belongs to others, has no business being in an intentional community this they don't get the "community" part.

 
paul wheaton
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Tim and Kristie told me about a show called "mountain men" and in one episode a young fella is given and old saw and asked to cut some wood. But the young fella doesn't know how to respect the tool, so the saw breaks. The saw could have lasted decades longer ....

Kristie sent me this link:

http://www.history.com/shows/mountain-men/episodes

I wonder if there is a clip on youtube showing off this particular event.
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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Tool care is hugely important, and not taught in elementary school. It's one of the big lessons necessary to move from a disposable society to a sustainable one. At a practical level, I always thought DH did that stuff, but it turns out when his health declined a few years back he quit. So now I am learning the hard way about things that fell apart from lack of maintenance.

So please realize that knowledge and expectations differ unless you spell them out. Modern practice would be to have each person sign a card saying they will be financially responsible for tool damage/loss beyond reasonable wear, and then make somebody the tool reference expert. Because I would need to ask somebody, what is proper care/safety for this tool? Does it take sharpening or oil? Where do I put a dirty rag? Is a broken drill bit wear and tear, or a reimbursable thing? Do we save the sandpaper? Is this the right tool for this job? Do I put it back immediately after use, or at lunch, or when I am done with it? I have no idea what others' tool habits are, but I'm humble enough to know that I don't know, and respectful enough to follow clear guidance. "Please take care of it" is not clear guidance unless we are certain that our idea of proper care matches.

I always wondered how Habitat for Humanity managed to get all those volunteers using all those tools safely. Life is full of mysteries.
 
Emily Aaston
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we paint our tools on trail crew with red or orange paint and use a wood burning tool to engrave our names.
 
Tyler Flaumitsch
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R Scott wrote:When I worked on a fence crew, we each had our own "blaze" combination of stripes (duct tape or spray paint) on the tool. High contrast obnoxious colors so you could see them easier when dropped in the tall grass. And everyone knew their own mark.


We used to do something similar on shared labour builds I have done in the past. It works well.
 
Jay Grace
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I've done a good number of construction / industrial jobs.
And signing out or placing your tag on a spot the tool is borrowed works the best I've seen. Even better when there is an OCD Tool Keeper. Just a guy you have to check the tools out from that makes sure everything is stored, clean, and accounted for everyday.

And if you don't turn the tool you borrowed in. You can't get another until the first one is brought back.
 
Kenneth Cochran
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Designating a collection of shared community tools that can be donated to sounds like a good idea. Rather than lending the tools how about a small rental fee and/or a refundable deposit when the tool is needed.

Tools eventually wear out from normal use. The rental fee could go into a tool replacement fund.

Just a thought.
 
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