I need a bit of advice. I recently moved into a new house with a big
garage that I've made into my workshop. My next door neighbor is a really
good guy and comes over to shoot the bull every now and again and I show him
some of the new things I've made (adirondack chairs and tile inlay tables).
While he's there I'm sure he scopes out what I have and after a while comes
to ask if he can borrow my tools for a project he's working on. I always
get the "I'll bring it back in a couple of hours" statement, but it's
usually the next couple of days. I've never lived anywhere where a
neighbor needed any of my tools, so this loaning out of tools is new to me
and I want to be neighborly. But now he has my level, palm sander, one of
my two pipe clamps, and an extension cord that has now been strung across
his backyard for a week in the rain. He brought back my ladder a few days
ago that sat in a snow storm overnight.
I just got a new cabinet saw and dust collector. Now that Christmas is
over and my kids birthdays out of the way, I'm going to be working pretty
hard getting my chairs made for spring-summer time, therefore, the loaning
is going to come to a stop.
Here's my question, is there a way to tell him I can't loan out my tools now
that I'm going to be using them more without pissing off a neighbor? I'm
already going to have to ask for my other tools back since I need them now,
not when he decides he can bring them back. It gets to me a bit that he
always wants to borrow my tools since he works at Home Depot. I
figure that some of you guys out there have gone through this. How do you
keep it under control? I know I can say "no" everytime he wants to
borrow something, but won't that make for bad blood?
Thanks for any advice.
Treat him like an employee. Tell him that you are very particular with your
tools and you have noticed that he leaves your tools out in the weather.
Tell him that you do no mind him borrowing but he really needs to
concentrate on taking better care of YOUR tools and returning them in a
more timely manner.
If you are using your tools tell him that they are not available.
If he is not an idiot he should understand. If he is an idiot don't lend
them out any more and tell him why.
Your mistake was that you didn't set the ground rules from the get go. All
you can do at this point is to sit him down and explain that you think he's
a nice guy and all, but you have a personal problem with lending out tools.
Tell him that you can still lend him tools when it's necessary, but that
you'll expect them back the minute he's finished with them. If he still
takes advantage of you, then you're going to have to restrict tool lending
Uh, is he worrying about pissing you off? You're the guy getting
I have a friend like that. Loan him an axe and he leaves it in the
woods. Loan his wife an airless sprayer and she loses half the parts.
Something on the order of 25 years ago, I said no more and meant it.
We're still friends.
Basically, you must decide which is more important to you, his friendship,
or your tools ... nothing else will work all the time.
IOW, if you like the guy, and if he won't take a hint, you're gonna have to
live with it. But here are a couple of dodges that work for me:
"Sure you can, but I need it later, so no problem providing you can bring it
back by ..."
Or for the stubborn: "This are my "personal" favorite (tool)" and it's sorta
like my toothbrush/wife, but you can certainly use this:" pointing to an el
cheapo, or Harbor Fright version bought specifically for the purpose.
I know the latter works because I routinely use it.
That said, there are some folks who can borrow anything I own and I'll help
load it, and there are others that I wouldn't loan a used band aid ... their
friendship doesn't count anyway because it almost always has strings
Your decision ... good luck.
I don't let anybody borrow the tools I use to make a living with. I
sometimes lend out lawn/gardening equipment but rarely. I become quite
defensive when people want to borrow something and usually point them in the
direction of a phone book or rental store. I paid for this stuff why can't
I'm also in the habit now of not asking to borrow anything. Just makes life
simpler since I usually ended up fixing what I asked to borrow before I
could use it.
Good advice. I try not to ask the neighbors to borrow anything either,
because I don't want to be in "debt" to them. If they lend you a $20
fertilizer spreader, they think they have a right to borrow all your
tools and leave them out in the rain.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
I wonder if Shakespeare did a little construction work on the side?
I lent my framing nailer to a new neighbor who was building a shed. He then
his compressor and MY nailer to his golf club for the weekend for $50.
I found out 3 months later. I was pissed. He still has half a box of nails
to him) left a year later that he is 'saving' for the next job.
What did I get in return. Just him bitching about the weight of my nailer..<g>
He came over bitching how his manual T-50 stapler pinches his hand (he's
the plastic on the greenhouse at his golf club) hoping to borrow my air version.
told him it was broken and suggested he spend $25 and buy one. He finished the
with his crappy Crapsman manual. I have no idea if he charged the golf club rent
I believe he bought his second hand air compressor just so he could borrow my air
He doesn't use it for anything else.
We had a conversation about how economical it would be for him to spray stain his
fence. When I didn't offer to loan him a sprayer he ended up doing it with a
I had a friend do this once. He did not really intend to steal the tools.
He just "forgot".
So I waited until he had company. Went to his house, and in front of his
friends, threw a fit. I yelled about how my wife got upset with me for
lending tools. This was true. Then I went into hyperbole mode. I talked
about calling the cops, small claims court and having to hide my gun from
the wife. This was pure theatrics.
But it worked. All tools were immediately gathered together and delivered to
my place in a matter of minutes. And his wife forbade me from borrowing any
more tools again.
So that turned out well. I must admit that a couple of other cases did not
turn out so well. It just depends on who it is.
I have a nice neighbor now who I found out recently is a high ranking member
of the local police force. She does ask to borrow things from time to time.
The tools are returned within the hour except once. And that was returned
the next day. Can't complain about that. You can't ask for a better
A few years ago I started getting people to sign out my tools. I can't tell
you how many times I started to hunt for a tool, couldn't find it and had to
start calling around. I've have one guy that's had my mitre saw for a year
now, good thing it's not my only one otherwise I'd be pissed. I just can't
bother to drive the 1/2 hour to go get it. I find that when people sign them
out they normally return them faster and if not it gives me a reason to go
through my list and follow up. I usually make the "friends" pay with coffee
or work off the loan. Remember most of us have a lot of money tied up in
tools. What do you think it would cost him to rent them or hire you to do
the work??? Same goes at my metal shop, you can use the shop and tools but
nothings free. I have power, heat and consumables tied up in the shop it's
not free to me.......
Thanks for the suggestions. I did tell him when he needed my level that
I was using it and couldn't loan it out, he said he would wait on his
project until I was done with mine. There's nothing like taking turns with
my own tools. He has made the comment that when I'm working on a chair
it's a good time to borrow my fish tape, and wire stripping tools as he
knows then I won't be using them. But to me my tools are like my
toothbrush, some I got from my grandfather who was a master carpenter, some
from my Dad, some as birthday/father's day/Christmas gifts. I don't like
loaning out gifts, which is what my ladder was, only to see it out in a snow
storm. I think I've been trying to be more friendly than practical.
I'm still learning my skills and sometimes not exactly sure which tool I
might end up needing, especially when I screw something up and need to fix
Tell him that you'll lend him the money to go rent a tool and, to make
sure neither one of you will forget (with busy lives and all), he can
leave you a post-dated cheque.
You are suggesting this to circumvent the possibility of him feeling
bad if he accidentally breaks one of your tools, which could leave you
in a lurch. He wouldn't want that to happen would he? Being
I have never minded lending a helping hand, but I thoroughly despise
free-loaders. Sometimes that is a very blurred line.
The problem of the neighbor who borrows tools is ubiquitous, and a
losing situation for the lender, for all the reasons mentioned by other
posters. The borrower puts the lender in the awkward position of having
to create white lies and feel guilty for asking for his own property
to be returned.
I have no sure fire way to protect ones tools against borrowers but
saying no at the beginning might be the least frustrating when all is
said and done.
One way I have found that works to get your tools back real fast is to ask
for a cash deposit, maybe of one third to one half of the value of the
tools. This may be a problem for the more expesive tools, so you may have
to negociate something different. I figure that if I lend someone a tool
for free, that same person can lend me some money in return. And should
the tool be returned damaged, you already have to money to get it fixed.
Just make sure you have the borrower sign for what he borrows and the
amount of deposit left, so the deposit is not considered to be the selling
price of the tool.
Too bad to have to resort to such methods, but the lender is not the
person who should suffer from his gracious deeds.
How many times has the borrower had the tools that long,that he swears
blind that he owns them ?????ive had them for years ???.
my neighbour borrowed my jig saw on 4/1/ he keeps saying he will bring
it back .He wont be bringing anymore tools back co's i wont be lending
him any more .
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