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Members' projects

Barry's DIY

One of our members, Barry, has been very busy doing jobs and improvement around his house and has transformed his family’s garden. It looks like he has put in a lot of effort and rented numerous tools from The Newtown Tool Library to get it all done. Check out the blurbs with each photo for the story. 

Well done Barry!


What does a paint roller and a taco have in common?

A question I ask myself frequently. Finally, we have a brilliant answer to this, something to inspire and get the mouth watering.
One of our members Amber lets us in on one of their tool library lending adventures.

"I am Amber, the owner/chief taco maker at Taco Addicts. We've been working on building a caravan for our mobile food business - we ran a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign in April/May, bought the caravan, and have been working on fixing it up over winter. I decided to paint it myself, and rather than buying a load of painting supplies, I approached the NTL to borrow brushes, rollers, drop sheets, a ladder, etc. Being able to borrow these items was awesome, as a lower environmental impact is a core value of the business! We successfully painted the caravan (now called Prince) using the items we borrowed, and then had the decals put on. We're now in action and can be found at various events, breweries and festivals around Wellington."

I personally have eaten multiple tacos from this fine looking caravan and can confirm that both the taste and the work that Amber has done on the caravan is amazing.


-Story by Rose
Welcome to the Newtown Tool Library story of the month. An inspiring tail of animal friendly ingenuity from the school holidays.

Over a month ago when I first got in touch with Debbie and her family I was given a glimpse of her son Gabe’s project. But the extent, deep thought and considerations behind this project only unfolded a few days ago when I paid them a visit.


Gabe, a very thoughtful and empathetic young man, is in the pursuit of an ethical pet. So he, with the help of his family, is building a mouse ‘house’ where the mice can choose to stay or not. The mice-pets will be ‘caught’ ethically in their back garden which edges on the expanse of the Upper Island Bay part of the Town Belt. And then once in, the mouse can freely pop in and out of the house as they so desire.


It being the middle of the holidays Gabe and his sister are absorbed in their work making ‘comfortable spaces’ for the mice to play in, like toilet roll tunnels and papier mache nests. But those are just the additional pieces, the decorations so to speak. Prior to this chapter of interior design Gabe had drilled holes into the large plastic box as fresh air vents for the mice.


And this is where the Newtown Tool Library (NTL) entered the story. Debbie, Gabe’s mother, said that the NTL fit perfectly in with their thinking around consumption. She said it is exactly this over consumption that we need to think of and cut down. So, naturally, it made perfect sense to borrow a drill from the library rather than to buy one. Gabe nods his head in approval. Once the drill was in hand Gabe carefully made equidistant small holes around the box to add ‘breathing space.’


-Story by Rose

Maddie, time short and on a budget, put together a beautiful wedding dress for a last minute wedding in the Coromandel! Maddie’s family were coming over from the UK for a family summer holiday and so what better thing to do than get married while they were here?! A last minute decision and a springboard for much creativity! Besides a tight time frame (about a month), there was a very tight budget too! A recipe for trial and error, fun and lots of laughs!

Maddie started a search for a wedding dress by trailing second hand shops in Wellington, and dredging through Trade Me. She didn’t want to buy anything new, ethics and NZ made were very important, so getting something second hand was logical! But alas, as the sand ran through the hour glass, Maddie wasn’t finding anything that she liked and that she could afford.


Enter project: she decided to make one herself!
​A formidable move, but something she wanted to do since she was a teenager, so a determined move! After some online pattern research Maddie bought a pattern and found ‘gorgeous’ cotton and silk fabric blend at only $10 a metre! That was only a small part of the big project! Fabric and pattern in hand, a sewing machine had to be sourced next! And remember time was short!


Chris, the Time Bank co-ordinator, suggested the Tool Library which had just acquired a brand new sewing machine! If that wasn’t lucky enough, Maddie rented the machine at the beginning of the summer holidays, which meant that she got the machine to herself for a whole month (which she needed!) A couple of people helped with the putting together of the dress, including her mother-in-law-to-be and a Wellington friend.


On the day before the wedding Maddie and her Mum sewed on the sleeves, and added the incredible hand-stitched flowers that Maddie’s Mum had made in England and brought with her.
All in all, Maddie says, she is delighted for having made the dress herself as it was such a big achievement! She couldn’t have done it without all her helping hands, and of course the Tool Library sewing machine!


-Story by Rose

In Feb 2016, Frank and Celia bought a van calling him 'Nobby the Aquamarine Adventure Machine' after their friend and an epic two month road trip. The more they travelled, however, the more they realised the joys of being self contained and being more responsible of their ecological footprints while travelling. So eventually decided to settle in Wellington to work on the dream of making the van more self contained!


One hitch though was they needed tools - they had an odd array of rusty tools in their basement but couldn't justify buying new tools for one job. So this limitation put the project on the back burner till their good amigo told them about the Tool Library making them really excited. They’d never heard of the idea of a tool library before and were amazed by the vast variety of tools that were on offer! Also, inspired by the Tool Library cupboards, they decided to use recycled pallets!


After much trial and error, many near disasters, advice from the Tool Library and help from Celia the finishing touches to the unit were made and installed in to the van! They passed the self contained test with flying colours and soon after hit the road again for a South Island adventure with the family. Being self contained opened a world of opportunity and made campsites a breeze! They were able to deal with their own waste and dispose of it in a responsible way.


Frank highly recommends anyone with a van to pay a visit to the Tool Library to explore the self contained van idea (if you need any tips or advise, feel free to give him a shout!). He says the Tool Library was absolutely essential for the project and really appreciates the dedication of the Tool Library team for running such a service! Frank finally says that having access to this library opened a world of opportunity, making otherwise expensive and unthinkable projects a real possibility.


One of the Newtown Tool Library's newest and very talented members Rosie. She borrowed our trusty sewing Singer sewing machine recently and this is her story...

"I was on a mission to make some little nut/seed bag after recently deciding along with my flat to go plastic free for July, and manages to crank a dozen out during the week from old net curtain material I found at an op-shop for about $2 - score! I also went along to a talk by Boomerang Bags during the week which spurred me on to go join their latest dewing bee, where I was able to take home a couple of 'take home packs' and sew my own bags at home. 

There's definitely a special feeling in gifting things, and the comment of the Boomerang Bags organisers has definitely stayed with me when she asked if my new nut/seed bags were 'just for me or if I was giving some away'. It's really made me think a little differently about the ownership we feel over things we've made and how much that is challenged when we give something away immediately after. 

From a simple loan of a sewing machine I managed to:
- impress my flatties and reduce our use of plastic bags further
- connect with some super cool humans I may not have talked to otherwise
- feel that epic goodness of buying local and seeing local people do awesome things
- reconsider my own values about what is 'mine'. So big thanks Tool Library! All started with you guys in the end, and will definitely be back to have another sift through your cupboards soon. " - Rosie

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