Once Piper Watson and John Shea moved to Station North in 2010, they began walking their dogs around the neighborhood and meeting fellow residents. Some, like themselves, were young artistic types, while others were longtime residents who had witnessed the neighborhood’s ups and downs. The resulting conversations made them want to add something to the neighborhood that would be self-sustaining, accessible, and useful.
So, in April 2013, the Station North Tool Library was born as Baltimore’s only tool library catering to individual DIYers. Boasting over 1,700 tools ranging from power drills to pickaxes, the library now has more than 900 members, who pay membership fees starting as low as $15 a year for lending access. Membership also grants usage of the 1,500-square-foot workshop where hobbyists—once they’ve completed a $25 safety orientation—can pursue projects from building planter boxes to brewing beer.
Last June, the library began offering classes in disciplines such as chef’s knife-making and woodworking. “It’s really evolved into something pretty special,” says Watson, 35. “It’s a really interesting mix of folks.” This includes absolute novices. “We had a woman build a miniature play kitchen set for her granddaughter, and she had never used a table saw in her life,” enthuses Watson. “It’s pretty amazing.”