I have a sign posted on the wall in my shop.
LOAN POLICY FOR TOOLS
1. I have invested a considerable amount of money in my tools.
It has been necessary to justify to my wife the need for these tools.
Loaning them out would negate the justification.
2. I am not certain that any particular borrower of my tools is sufficiently
skilled in their use to rule out accidents.
I would feel terrible if an accident happened that could have been
3. I have just enough friends who might be in need of borrowing tools that,
if I didn't say "no", a major portion of my tools would be on loan at any
4. I have experienced certain periods of frustration when I didn't have a
needed tool at a certain time in the progress of a project. As a result , I
have invested heavily in providing myself with a wide variety of tools.
(see # 1.) If any given tool happens to be "on loan", you can imagine the
even worse frustration.
With the above in mind, please be assured that if you are in dire need of a
tool for a particular operation, you may use said tool
IN MY SHOP, UNDER MY SUPERVISION.
Here's an approach.
Tell him that another friend borrowed a tool, and returned it in
terrible shape. (or lost it, or never returned it). It was a valuable
tool, and very hard to replace. But the problem is you, being a good
guy, had a hard time saying "No."
It was just to hard for you to say "yes" to some people and "no" to
others. It would only cause hurt feelings. It seems that no matter
what you do, someone will get upset. And if those that asked every
found out about the others, you would just get more grief.
Say this bothered you for a long time. Say that you therefore decided
to make it a policy to never lend tools to ANYONE. Say "I'm are sorry
to have to say that, but I hope you will understand my position."
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
This is kinda related - I seldom loan my tools. Not because I'm a
jerk to anyone, almost no one asks. One of my closest friends does
sometimes ask, and when he does borrow something, it's returned in as
good of condition as when it went out. He's even had the blade
sharpened on my miter saw.
Now for the OT part - this is a good reason (for me) to keep my shop
in the basement. No one in my neighborhood knows what I have. It
isn't the top reason. Heck, that isn't even in the top 5 reasons, but
it sure don't hurt.
Loaning out tools is always a tough call. I've turned down requests with
the simple statement that I needed to use the tool myself and couldn't
loan it out right now. If you have a Harbor Freight in your area,
you might try mentioning to your neighbor how cheap
inexpensive their tools are, maybe even accompany him on a trip there.
For every complicated, difficult problem, there is a simple, easy
solution that does not work.
I would have to say that I agree with L. Loaning tools really is a
tough call and I don't normally loan them out to neighbors unless there
a friend and I've known them a long time. With a neighbor, I'll offer
to bring the tool over and help him myself and I use the tool or ask
him if it is something that can wait till I can help if I can't
immediately. I would think that my labor would be more valuable than
the tool and more often appreciated by the neighbor. This way I have
the opportunity to get to know them and decide if they're a friend as
well as a neigbor. Otherwise, I have to view it as there's not much I
can do to help this time. Loaning isn't something I usually do unless
its a friend I've known a very long time (many years) or a family
As far as getting it back, I'd simply go to the neighbor and ask him
how it went and say that I needed the tool back. If this caused a
problem with the neighbor, at least then you'd know what kind of
neighbor you have and whether you'd be loaning them any more tools. I
suppose I'd also seek some legal advice just in case before I went over
Walking that line between being a good neighbor and being an
abused neighbor can be tricky. Asking "helpful" questions like
"What are you going to do with this tool?" can short circuit
its abuse. In the cutting through comp shingles example, you
could then point out that a circular saw is the wrong tool for
the job and that a sawz all/ bayonet saw would be the tool for
the job - with the right blade of course. Then you can offer
to go with him to buy one - along with the proper bladeS -
plural - for the job he's got in mind. Now you're in Helpful
Advisor mode rather than the less desireable Lender mode.
Also make a point of asking how long he'll need the tool.
Explain that you often do things very early in the morning
and late at night and you'd hate to wake him up to get
your tool when you need it. So stress that you need your
tool(s) back by sundown. Now you're the Helpful Neighbor
who is also the Considerate Neighbor. It also make him
schedule things for a week end.
I HAD a brother in law living acrossed the street and two
doors down. His wife wanted to remodel their house and
he, being an auto mechanic, had few tools for that type
of work. In no time at all he had
- my pick up truck with the bed full of 2x4s
- my worm drive circular saw, with blades
- my sawz all with blades
- two of my electric hand drills with bits
- my crow bars
- two or three of my hammers (ball peen hammers
are useless on remodels)
- a couple of my extension cords (the ones his sister
hadn't "modified" - with the hedge trimmer!)
- my framing square and regular square
- my palm nailer (he had a compressor)
- my 6 and 8 foot ladders
If I needed one of my tools back it'd take days to
"borrow it back" and this went on for over a
Things came to a head after a couple of weeks when
I heard my skill saw cutting something - at 10:30
at night. Our neighborhood gets quiet after about
nine pm and folks call the cops after that.
Now knowing that this guy had a problem with
"authority figures" (he'd chased his father around
the back yard with a baseball bat when he was
a teen, and tried to back his bug eyed Sprite over
a county sheriff in his early twenties) I went over
to suggest he knock off work for the night and
offered to give him a hand when he got home from
work the next day.
That lead to a lot of yelling on his part and me
demanding my truck and tools back. When he
was about to THROW my skill saw into the bed
of MY truck - from his porch - things got a bit
testy. That incident ended with him pulling a
knife on me and my 6' 6" neighbor, who'd come
out of no where, taking the knife away in a less
than gentle manner.
Needless to say, I became a little tighter with
my tools. Fortunately, he lost the house,
but only after I, being the husband of his sister,
had to deal with sheriffs and bail bondsmen and
one of his ex-wives/girl friends and a sheriff,
on a cold rainy morning around 6 am.
NEVER LOAN TOOLS TO IN LAWS.
Ask helpful questions
Offer helpful suggestions - like lets go over to
The Borg and get you the tools you're gonna need
Need the tool(s) back by sundown - the OR ELSE
can be implied as subtly or as forcefully as you
who just got his four, four foot bessys back
from his eldest and his youngest still has his
hammer drill and masonry bits.
Wrong lesson from the experience, IMO -- correct lesson is never loan tools to
I have *zero* problem with loaning tools to *my* brother-in-law. He knows how
to use and care for tools properly, and he and I lend each other tools freely.
Neither one of us has ever refused to loan a tool to the other for any
reason besides "I'm using it right now myself." Same goes with my
father-in-law. He's welcome to borrow any of my tools, any time. He's a
retired tool and die maker; he knows what it means to have good tools. I'm
honored to be one of the people that he allows to borrow *his* tools, and even
more honored to be one of the few people to whom he has *given* some of his
On the other hand, I have other relatives to whom I wouldn't lend a
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Want a good deal? Loan a tool to me ... _IF_ you can get me to ask, that is.
I learned at an early age to return tools that "we borrowed in better shape
than they were before we borrowed them. I can't tell you how many tractor
box blades I painted after "we" (Dad) borrowed it, or how many shovels I
cleaned and oiled, how many hay cutter blades were sharpened and oiled, how
many horse trailers were polished to a show room shine, tools with edges
sharpened, etc., ad infinitum, before they were returned.
Not only that, if a tool broke when it was under loan to us, we fixed it,
had it fixed, or bought the loaner a new one. I borrowed a riding lawn mower
from my Dad at one point and the transmission went out before I finished the
job ... you can bet your sweet ass it had a new transmission when it was
returned to him.
It's one of the reasons I rarely borrow a tool. AAMOF, on a job site I'll
walk out to my truck to get a screwdriver instead of borrowing one from a
worker that is standing right next to me, just to tighten a screw on a
Not a bad way to be raised, and although I didn't always appreciate it when
"we" were doing the cleanup/sharpening/painting, I thoroughly appreciate the
response it instilled with regards to borrowing tools ... Thanks, Dad!
Like the old saying..."neither a borrower nor a lender be."
Your Dad sound a lot like mine, Swingman. I have a neighbor who has
offered more than once to let me use his old planer (he rarely uses it
himself), but I know with my luck the thing would give up the ghost
while I was using it. Then my conscience would force me to spend my
money on a new planer for HIM when I could have spent it on a new planer
for ME in the first place.
I had to start buying my own tools as a young adult to understand why my
dad would get so pissed when me or my mother or one of my brothers failed to
put one of his tools back. Unless he found it rusting in the backyard, he
never discovered it until he had need for that particular tool.
For years now I've been fighting the same battle with my wife and my 21
year old (who I [often] think doesn't know which end of a screwdriver to
Paybacks are hell.
It was 'teary' moment when my oldest daughter admitted to me that she
had adopted my catch-phrase
"think of others, you are not on this planet by yourself"
When she goes camping, you would never know she had been on that spot
after she left.
Her bathroom mirror is full of Stik-Um notes, all of which seem to deal
with 'other people.'
My youngest still believes that she is the centre of the
universe....she's 13 and is starting to watch how I handle my fork and
knife when I eat, so there is hope. LOL.
My parents made me take dance lessons 'cuz "you never know".
Both parents taught me about accountability and to stop and smell the
roses. (That one has been the most difficult as I suffer fromk
I think I just figured out why Swingman's views (and others') mesh with
mine as much as they do. Good dads go a long way, right Watson?
(What makes thing difficult is when you're a dyed-in-the-wool
conservative but know that Bush is an asshole. Just watch the
motherfarker squirm at the SOTU tonight.)
Never shy, I remain,
LOL. Even if you did let a fat girl take you, sometimes you gotta dance with
who brung you!
Besides, I would just a cheerfully jail a politician on general principles
as to look at him ... ANY politician.
I may start a movement: all politicians, once elected, immediately
serve a prison sentence, the length and severity of said sentence
depending on the damage the position allows them to do. A minimum of
three months (local office), maximum of 15 years, say, though that
sounds a touch low for the damage some presidents do.
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