WA 2 months ago

This kind of app existed before (keyword "sharing economy") and it never really took off. I don’t know exactly why, but one obvious drawback is that I have to signup for a service (that none of my friends or neighbors use yet), post my list of 3-5 tools I’m willing to share and then never look in the app for 6 months, because I don’t need anything. An all like that is basically the same as sending an email to my friends and putting a piece of paper on my door for my neighbors to let them know what stuff they can borrow from me. It’s not exactly something you use everyday.

My guess is: yes, people would share their tools, but an app might not be the solution for this problem.

  • muzani 2 months ago

    We've done it as a community for a while. The downside is sometimes someone borrows a ladder but doesn't return it. Apps would help.

    I'm not sure if people would want to rent their tools though. It seems like the benefit of being neighborly exceeds the $3 you'd get from renting out a ladder.

    • shoo 2 months ago

        > Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home
        > hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting
        > expedition, he found one of the successful
        > hunters dropping off several hundred pounds
        > of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man
        > objected indignantly:
          > "Up in our country we are human!" said the
          > hunter. "And since we are human we help
          > each other. We don't like to hear anybody
          > say thanks for that. What I get today you
          > may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by
          > gifts one makes slaves and by whips one
          > makes dogs.
        > The refusal to calculate credits and debits
        > can be found throughout the anthropological
        > literature on egalitarian hunting societies.
        > Rather than seeing himself as human because he
        > could make economic calculations, the hunter
        > insisted that being truly human meant refusing
        > to make such calculations, refusing to measure
        > or remember who had given what to whom
        -- Graeber , Debt: The First 5,000 Years
muzani 2 months ago

Low end tools like screwdrivers and hammers, I don't see this being profitable enough to be worth the trouble.

For the high end tools like masterwork knives and chainsaws - they're too valuable to rent out. You don't want someone chipping an heirloom knife. Rating them 1 star or banning them from the system isn't worth the pain nor is it illegal enough to be a deterrent. On the other hand, sharing apps like Airbnb and Uber has worked fine, and you can also provide insurance.

Also with things like chainsaws and power tools, they'd also need safety gear and training. They might as well just hire someone to do it.

The sweet spot seems to be in the middle - crowbars, power drills, power screwdrivers, shovels, lawnmowers. But these are quite cheap. I have two shovels because we bought a new one and didn't realize we had an old one.

I guess the real litmus test is... would you? It's not a big problem IMO and I've lived fine without it. It seems like one of those things that sounds like a great idea but isn't something I'd lose sleep over.

jefflombardjr 2 months ago

Honestly, depends on the tool.

This is my mental heuristic/the levels of tools I own/use when looking to do a job:

- Rent/Borrow: it's a common job. I need it once. (Rule of three applies here[0]. If I'm not going use it 3 times, I don't need to own it.

- Disposable Tool: Odd size wrench? No one I know has it? Time to by cheap shit from Harbor freight.

- Best Value Tool: Am I new to the tool? Or is a professional quality very expensive? i.e. Buy the Toyota, but no need for a Porsche

- Master Quality Tool: This is something I have a clear need for and owning a better quality tool will directly result in productivity games, when I buy at this level, I consider it an investment. And as long as see a noticeable return, I have no problem shelling out money for the best.

Would I rent out any of my tools? Maybe. I am very picky about the higher quality ones.

Would I rent my neighbor's cadillac of a log splitter that gets used once a year? Hell yes.


mchannon 2 months ago

It's simpler to buy-and-sell the appliances on craigslist. That way you don't have to worry about the borrower depreciating the value of the appliance or not returning it in a timely fashion.

Also, maybe I'm not in love with the ladder I have. Selling it for $20 so I can justify buying a $2000 composite one that fits in your pocket is a pretty good use case.

If I lived in a dense metro area and couldn't afford to store a full complement of tools, I could afford to hire people to perform the labor associated with those tools, so urban isn't even a use case for a borrowing app.

Borrowing is like bartering: a coincidence of wants is much less likely than a want of coincidences.

enonevets 2 months ago

Personally I wouldn’t but that’s not indicative of whether the idea has merit or not. We live in a small neighborhood that roughly spans 3 streets where majority of the homeowners know each other. We’ve borrowed tools from various neighbors within our neighborhood over the past couple of years without issue and there were never really any rush to returning them.

Prior to living here, if we ever needed basic tools, we bought them ourselves or borrowed from family (which have a large array of heavy duty tools) so we are not the target demographic for this.

thisone 2 months ago

Putting "tool borrowing" into Google comes back with multiple apps already.

The one that I hear about people using most often is https://fatllama.com

The liability side of this will be interesting. I know with Fat Llama the reason I generally hear about them is due to items being damaged or stolen.

anoncoward111 2 months ago

I believe Home Depot and Lowe's and small non profit "tool banks" already do this, an app displaying inventory and manuals would maybe be helpful

askafriend 2 months ago

Nextdoor is probably best positioned to facilitate something like this.

It's really hard to get enough trust and liquidity otherwise.

afarrell 2 months ago

I have used the app Fat Llama to rent a dremel tool from someone about 20-minutes walk away.

I would do so in the future.

cafard 2 months ago

Takoma Park, Maryland, has or had a "tool library" in the basement of the regular library, from which locals could borrow tools. I haven't lived in Takoma Park now for many years, and don't know whether the tool library still operates.

Spooky23 2 months ago

No. I’ll borrow stuff or lend stuff to people I know. Random neighbor, no thanks.

kleer001 2 months ago

Depends highly on the accountability chain, insurance, and ease of use.