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Sketched Dec. 19 and 27, 2012

The shelves are filled with circular saws, power drills and more types of hammers than I ever knew existed. But this is no hardware store. I’m in North Ravenna at the city’s newest tool library, where members will be able to check out tools for free after it opens Jan. 19.

The grass-roots project led by Susan Gregory makes a lot of sense. Everyone may own a hammer, she said, but most of us don’t need to own expensive tools that we seldom use, such as a shop vacuum or a chain saw.


Seattle Times news artist Gabriel Campanario has been capturing Seattle's places and people in hand-drawn sketches for more than a decade. To see past columns, visit the Seattle Sketcher home page. Prints, notecards and a book of Campanario’s sketches are available for sale through The Seattle Times store. You may also fill out an illustration request to order a specific image.

Modeled after a similar initiative in West Seattle, the Northeast Seattle Tool Library has already collected more than 600 donated tools. “It’s a good start,” said Gregory, who hopes to keep adding more tools as word spreads. On her wish list: a pressure washer, a sewing machine and a spinning wheel to make yarn from wool.

For details on membership and to check out the inventory, visit

Members will be able to check out tools one week at a time, and Gregory also plans to organize workshops where folks can teach each other how to use the tools. “It’s not just the tools but the expertise people bring,” said Gregory, a professional landscape designer and the daughter of a Boeing engineer.

Tool library member Morgan Redfield has donated some of the most expensive equipment, including this drill press and a table saw that patrons will be able to use on site. The equipment belonged to his dad, John Redfield, who passed away a year ago. Morgan, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at the University of Washington, has many fond memories of using the equipment with his mechanical-engineer father and still keeps a treasure chest they built together. When a friend told him about the library, he knew it would be the perfect place for the tools. Morgan, 25, said his dad “would  be really happy if he knew his tools are being used by other people.”

This sophisticated set of hammers, which also belonged to Morgan Redfield’s father, rest on a wooden counter reclaimed from the original REI store.

When you are ready to check out some tools, you’ll find the Northeast Seattle Tool library in this humble building at 2415 NE 80th Street. The building, provided by the North Seattle Friends Church, will also house another cool volunteer-run local nonprofit, the Bike Shack, starting Jan. 19. Next time, I’ll sketch them too!