Edinburgh Tool Library

The Edinburgh Tool Library is a community for borrowing tools, sharing skills, and giving support & advice.

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ETL’s Future during the COVID19 outbreak

Dear Reader,

This must be the eeriest way to start a relaunched website, and not the first thing we would want you to read, but needs must.

Everyone connected with the ETL hope that you are safe, healthy, and staying indoors to aid our NHS and the amazing array of support services in tackling the current crisis. As our way of saying thank you to them, we are going to give a free year’s membership to any NHS staff presenting us their badge, once we are open again.

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Whilst our public-facing services have been closed since March 16th, our staff and volunteers have been beavering away improving our database, polishing up this new website, and generating social media content to keep your spirits up . They’re already finding ways of helping others during this time of crisis, as well as continuing to support the needs of ETL.

You may see our van out in Wester Hailes where Jonny is volunteering with WHALE Arts to deliver food and art supplies to the community, or Andrew, a regular workshop volunteer, driving blood donations around the city. We’ve given equipment to Bridge 8 Hub and Bikes for Refugees to support their Free Bikes for Key Workers programme, and our sewing expert Tzippi is making masks to send to care homes. It’s inspiring to see members of our community step up when others need them the most.

In light of the corona virus crisis, we want to emphasize how essential your support is to us. We exist to serve your needs, but without your support, we face difficult times ahead. In order to keep the Edinburgh Tool Library functioning so that we are here to help our community when we all come out the other side, we would ask that you continue to renew your membership online with us when the time comes. You can even renew early, and a year will be put on your expiry date. We rely on memberships to enable us to function, and now we need you more than ever.

For those of you unable to take advantage of a Tool Library membership, but who wish to support us through this difficult time, you can give as much or as little as you want by clicking the donate button below. You’ll be redirected to Paypal where you can pay through a Paypal account, or by card. One-off donations are welcome, and you can also set up regular monthly donations of smaller amounts. Think of it as buying your Tool Library pals a pint once a month!

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Since opening 5 years ago, you have leaned on us to help with your projects, and we have saved our members over £875,000 cumulatively. We now need to lean on you. If every member renewed their membership today, and got one other person to join the tool library, we would see this thing through and be ready to get you making on the other side. The Edinburgh Tool Library will be an important asset to your community when we reach the end of this crisis. Let’s make sure it is still there to help build a brighter future.

Thank you in advance for your support. We will working hard behind the scenes, and we look forward to connecting with you again soon. Keep in touch, keep smiling, and read on to find out all the things that you didn’t know ETL did!

Much love, 

Chris Hellawell

Director, The Edinburgh Tool Library

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Our volunteers rebuilding a vandalised pirate ship for Castleview Primary School. Can you help keep the ETL flag flying?

The Edinburgh Tool Library

ETL was the UK’s first Tool Library, promoting sharing as a way of reducing our environmental impact. For us, ETL is also about building a community as well as building things. We believe in access over excess.

We have two wood workshops in Leith and Portobello, two storage units, a pop up location and an electric van. We run an employability programme, a series of volunteer builds, and a residency programme for young makers. As well as borrowing tools to use at home, our members access our workshops several times a week, usually evenings and weekends.

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What does ETL do?

Fundamentally, we are a tool-lending library where you can borrow thousands of different tools. And if you don’t know how to use the tools we share, don’t worry – we also bring members together to build and learn by sharing skills and knowledge with one another.

Borrow things like drills, sanders, and steamers by the week.

Join in events like DIY classes, workshops, and community builds.

Meet your neighbours and people from your community, share your knowledge and skills, or learn something new.

Volunteer! Help run the tool library, assist with our events, and build stronger links within our communities.

Find what you are looking for among thousands of tools.

How does it work?

Becoming a member saves you money and space. You can borrow tools when you need them, rather than buying and storing your own. Whether you’re a master gardener, novice DIYer, expert tradesperson, or someone simply looking to make a difference in your local community, the Edinburgh Tool Library is here to help.

Visit your nearest Tool Library site during our open hours, and a friendly volunteer will be available to help you.


It’s easy. All you need is an email, *Photo ID, **Official letter, and to choose your membership type.

*Photo ID: a driving licence, passport, bus pass, or student card.
**Official Letter: a bank statement, HMRC letter, job centre letter, or utility bill, dated within the last 6 months and with your current address


Choose the things you want to use, and select when you want them for.


Visit the Tool Library location where your tool is, and a friendly volunteer will be available to help.


After you’ve used the tool, simply return it, clean, on time, and ready for the next borrower.


Everyone is welcome to join our classes, open sessions, or events and get making, building, and repairing. Or join as a Volunteer or Mentor and connect to a wider group of sharers and makers.

Where can you find us?

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Saturdays at the Leith Walk police box.

We have 2 workshop locations in the city, one in Leith and the other in Portobello, both open twice a week to members.

On Saturday mornings, you can borrow and return tools at our Police Box on Leith Walk or from our Portobello location.

Our depot at Spey Street Lane is open on Wednesday evenings for more tool borrowing.


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Why buy when you can share?

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The average cordless electric drill is used for just 13 minutes during its lifetime, yet most households own one and spend an average of £110 per year on DIY tools (Office of National Statistics). That’s a waste of money and waste of a tool.

We share tools in order to maximise the number of times each tool is used, reduce waste, and make access to tools affordable for everyone.

  • Save money – Tools are expensive and not everyone can afford them. Whether you’ve got a shelf to put up, renovations to complete, or a space to transform, you will save money by borrowing tools from a tool library rather than buying tools yourself.
  • Save space – Using the tool library means you don’t need to buy tools and have the worry of where to store them.
  • Be kind to the planet – If a drill is used for just 13 minutes of its lifetime and spends the rest of its time collecting dust somewhere, why not share it with your neighbours? By using less and sharing more, the Tool Library helps us all save on the packaging, water, fuel and rare earth minerals that go into producing each tool.
  • Better communities – When you become a member, you become part of a wider community. We run many workshops and programs to help people empower themselves with the knowledge they need to use tools themselves.
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If we all share what we have to offer, we all become richer.

In our first 5 years, we saved our members £875,000 compared to what they would have spent on the tools they borrowed.


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