Tool of the Week: Planer

Pictured at left and below is one of our Tool Library members, Brian, using our portable Dewalt planer to smooth out a board.  This particular board is going to be a wedding gift to his sister.  As you can see in this image below, this particular board has a natural heart shape in the wood that will be the highlight of this table.

A thickness planer is a tool that evens out pieces of wood, so that the whole board is the same thickness.  A planer is often used in conjunction with a jointer, as a planer usually requires that at least one side of the board be perfectly flat.  More on jointers in another post.  A planer works by using cutting knives to shave off excess wood on the board as the board is slid through the machine.

The West Seattle Tool Library currently has two portable planers available for checkout.  However, if you only have a quick project and don’t feel up to lugging a heavy planer home, you are welcome to use one of the planers in the workshop, as Brian did.  Most of our tools can be used in our workshop for quick projects, saving you a return trip to bring back that tool.

As with most power tools, when using a planer it is recommended that you wear eye protection and remove any loose clothing or loose jewelry.  As well, ear protection is highly recommended.  Planers can be loud.  While Brian was using the planer in the workshop, all of us in the general area had to put on ear protection because it was so loud.  It is also recommended that users not plane any board less than twelve inches in length as a shorter board could lead to damage to the user and or the planer.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at:

Follow us on:
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup:





SWS August Forum: Picnic on Beach @ Lincoln Park, Try Electric Bikes & Kayaks

August’s Sustainable West Seattle Community Forum will be our traditional pot-luck outdoor dinner barbecue at Lincoln Park Shelter #3 on Monday August 20. Join us starting at 5:00 pm and lasting through sun down.

Join us as we set up the grill and provide the condiments. Please bring your favorite summertime dish and your own cup, utensils and plates. Shelter 3 is on the beach at the south end of Lincoln Park. Sustainable West Seattle turns 5 years old this year, so be on the lookout for some green cake!

Adding to the fun, Alki Bike and Board and Alki Kayak Tours will be provide a few electric bikes, paddle boards and kayaks for you to take a spin.

SWS will also use the occasion to recognize our Sustainable Hero of the Year. Join us for some fun in the sun. Check the West Seattle Herald’s story on last year’s Hero and the West Seattle Blog’s report on last year’s Hero.

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West Seattle Buses To Downtown: Metro Wants Vote On Pioneer Square Routes

Input Needed Regarding Bus Routes Through Pioneer Square
The Alliance for Pioneer Square and Pioneer Square neighborhood representatives have been in discussion with Metro for the last couple of years regarding post viaduct bus routes. Metro is proposing one option to put 550 buses a day on Washington and Main streets post viaduct. These are rapid ride buses that currently use the viaduct and Seneca and Columbia to access the downtown core, by-passing Pioneer Square. There have been numerous neighborhood meetings as well as smaller meetings with Metro and the city.
In their final analysis Metro is looking at two different routes for the 550 buses per day:
  • Washington and Main as a couplet through the middle of Occidental Park and Pioneer Square with each street being one way,  or
  •  Columbia Street becoming a two way street to handle the buses off and on the new Alaskan Way
Under either of these scenarios Pioneer Square will have better access to these bus routes.
Metro staff and our elected officials need to hear which option the public prefers. Please take the following survey regarding the routing of buses

SDOT Seeking Bike Rack Locations

SDOT is looking to install new bike racks in south Seattle to help encourage cycling as a form of transportation to our business districts. SDOT would like your help with finding places to install them where they will be most useful, particularly in Delridge, South Park, Georgetown, and Southeast Seattle.

SDOT can install racks in the public right-of-way, but not on private property. Installation would likely be in late 2012 or early 2013 (i.e. after this cycling season, but ready for summer 2013).

If you know of locations which need bike racks, please contact: Doug Cox, Associate Planner,Multimodal Program & Project Group,SDOT Traffic Management Division, by phone at 206-684-8264, or via email

Also check out the City’s bike rack page

Grainger Foundation Gives Tool Library $10K Gift

The West Seattle Tool Library officially opened its doors in June of 2010, offering free community access to a rather decent variety of over 100 tools out of a small storage closet. Just two years later, that modest collection has now grown to over 1,500 tools, serving a membership of around 700 neighbors from a wonderfully renovated workshop space at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

Though an incredible amount of volunteer effort, staff time, and member support certainly helped bring this community resource to life, The Tool Library also owes a tremendous deal of gratitude and thanks to its generous donors. These donors include The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, The West Seattle Garden Tour, Alaska Airlines, and, most recently, The Grainger Foundation.

In honor of The Tool Library’s achievements – and to ensure its ability to pursue all its exciting potential – The Grainger Foundation recently awarded The Tool Library with a extremely generous grant in the amount $10,000. As an organization that encourages sustainability, community involvement, technical training, and disaster preparedness, The Grainger Foundation identified The Tool Library as a natural partner. We couldn’t agree more!

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the entire Grainger organization for all their support and recognition, as well as all the other great work that they continue to support throughout the country.

Pictured in this photo taken in The Tool Library’s Workshop are (from left to right) Bob Noble, Grainger Assistant Branch Manager; Gene Boyington, Grainger Branch Manager; Christina Hahs, SWS president; Richard Garrett, Grainger Customer Service Associate and National Sustainability Chair; Micah Summers, SWS Tool Library manager; and Patrick Dunn, SWS Tool Library Founder.

In response to the demands from our membership and the greater community, The Tool Library will now use these funds to support our education curriculum, continue to develop our mobile operations, and increase our open hours to make The Tool Library even more accessible to all our neighbors throughout the region.

After two full years in operation and with all of this generous support, in many ways we kinda feel like we’re just getting going!

Thank you for your continued support of Sustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Tool Library.


TONIGHT: Community Forum: Greenways – Bike or Walk Proposed West Seattle Greenways

The Sustainable West Seattle July Community Forum will be West Seattle Greenways.  Join us Monday July 16 at the West Seattle Tool Library,  Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, from 7:00 pm to 9:09 pm for an engaging evening learning about and discussing greenways.

Come bike and learn about the progress to build neighborhood Greenways on 26th Avenue SW and 21st Avenue SW.

For more details, see our events calendar!

SWS & West Seattle Nursery Present GreenLife at the West Seattle Summer Fest

Sustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Nursery once again are pleased to sponsor and present this year’s GreenLife exposition as part of the three-day-long West Seattle Summer Fest, Friday, July 13, Saturday July 14, and Sunday, July 15, in the West Seattle Junction.  The GreenLife area is at the south end of Summer Fest’s California Avenue line, near SW Edmunds Street in the Tech Services parking lot.

Come visit us during Summer Fest.  We have lots of information and there will be booths from a wide range of local green and sustainable businesses and organizations.

This year, as we did last year, we have a full lineup of presentations and demonstrations which will begin Friday at 1:00 pm.  The presentations continue  every hour on the hour for all three Festival days with the last presentation on Sunday at 4:45 pm.

The presentations will take place on a stage adjacent to the West Seattle Nursery/Sustainable West Seattle tent in the middle of the GreenLife area.  We’ll be very hard to miss.  Plus, we’re providing space for our partners CoolMom, Backyard Habitats, Whale Trail, Community Orchard, and Longfellow Creek Watershed.

Solar Epiphany is sponsoring the presentation/demonstration stage, which also features 15-minute Solar Power updates at the end of each hour’s presentation.

The hourly presentations include everything from how to remake your home in a sustainable manner, how to use a rain garden and harvest and preserve home-grown fruits and vegetables, how to use the Sun’s thermal energy to heat your home and water, how to prevent storm water runoff from getting into Puget Sound, what are Greenways and how can you bike safely, a special presentation by Occupy West Seattle on whether our current economy is sustainable, and a cart of bicycles to try out from Bikeworks, and much more.

The demonstration and presentation schedule is linked below:

West Seattle Summer Fest GreenLife Demo Sked 2012 (a downloadable PDF of the schedule)

The schedule for each day is listed in our Calendar section and also linked below:

A special feature of this year’s GreenLife will be the Mobile Tool Library, which will be on display during the Festival and which will begin serving West Seattle immediately following this year’s festival.  Organizations and work parties interested in using the Mobile Tool Library later in July should contact Micah Summers or Patrick Dunn at the Tool Library.

If you are interested in volunteering at GreenLife, please sign up using our online sign-up sheet.  We hope to see you there!