A Very Inspiring WS Tool Library Story

At the Tool Library BBQ fundraiser last weekend (which was a great success!), I had the pleasure to meet many Tool Library regulars. Many people exclaimed their love of this awesome community resource and described how they use it. I was really blown away when I met Gaston and heard the story of how he and his wife had exclusively used tools from the West Seattle Tool Library to turn their fixer-upper into a lovable, livable home. This is a great example of how to use a Tool Library!

Here is Gaston and his wife’s story: 

The West Seattle Tool Library has been an amazing resource for my wife and I.  Without it, we would not have been able to make such a great home for ourselves.  This is because we had a get a fixer upper and the resources of the Tool Library made it possible to fix it up and make it our home.

We really wanted our own home but were a bit scared by the highly competitive Seattle area housing market.  Even so, after years of saving we managed to get enough for a downpayment for a fixer-upper in an area we liked.  It felt great to finally have a place we owned, but it was not in great condition and we needed some help to fix, furnish, and renovate it so that we could be completely happy with it.  That is when my wife discovered the West Seattle Tool Library.

I consider myself handy-ish and confident enough to attempt renovations, but my toolbox only contains the basics.  The first issue I wanted to tackle was adding insulation to an exterior wall that had none.


I could easily open the wall and stuff some insulation in there however repairing the wall would be challenging as I had never done any drywall work before.  Thankfully the Tool Library staff knew what I was getting into.  They loaned me the tools I needed and showed me how to use them.


Now I have a great looking wall that no longer freezes the room in the winter.


With now more space than our previous apartment, my wife and I had a mostly empty house that needed furnishing.  Being frugal people, we looked for good furniture that we could refinish rather than just buying new furniture.  This is where Brian of the Tool Library helped us out immensely.  Brian is a woodworker that loves his craft.  He has given us fantastic recommendations for refinishing wood furniture.  With his advice we have restored a deck patio set, cabinets, and even built our own wood pallet table.  This restoration allowed us to put our own personal touches into our furniture without spending a fortune.



Our current, and largest, project is adding wood flooring into two rooms and a small hallway.


We both really like the look and feel of wood floors but haven’t been able to put them in because of the cost.  We could not afford a new wood floor so we began to search for used flooring.  With all the wood restoration knowledge from the Tool Library, we felt confident that we could refinish a used floor.  After a few months of searching, a friend of ours offered us the fir flooring in a house he was demolishing.  So we quickly set out to pull up the floorboards, remove the nails from each board, remove our old carpet, prep the subfloor, and nail the flooring down.  All with the tools and expert advice of the West Seattle Tool Library.  I am currently sanding the floor and its getting close to completion.






In addition we have also used tools and advice of the WSTL to help us:

  • Repair an old greenhouse and plant vegetables
  • Gaston_Greenhouse1
  • Clean, repair and refinish our back deck
  • Gaston_PressureWasher
  • Sand, stain, and refinish cabinets
  • Renovated a very outdated old bathroom


I feel like I am at the WSTL every weekend picking up a tool for my next project and asking Brian for more advice.  We have used the Tool Library to make a great home.  It has been invaluable to us.


We hope you utilize and support the WS Tool Library as well. If you are interested in learning more or perhaps volunteering at the Tool Library please contact us at (206) 659-8313.

Take care!

The SWS Team

A Tale of Two Otters Presentation at C&P Coffee This Thursday

What is the difference between a sea otter and a river otter? Where do they live, what do they eat, and what role do humans play in their environment? Join us to learn about these fascinating and playful creatures who share our shores.

Leo Shaw will discuss the natural history of river and sea otters in North America, with a special focus on the river otters of West Seattle! His talk will cover human interactions, population swings, social structure, anatomy and physiology  food preferences, legal status, and current threats.

Buy tickets early to reserve your seat. And hurry! This will sell out.

This is the next in a series Orca Talks hosted by The Whale Trail in West Seattle. The event also features updates from Seal Sitters, and Diver Laura James (tox-ick.org). You otter be there!

About the Speaker

Leo Shaw is a zoologist who served as a Marine Education Specialist with the Seattle Aquarium from 1977 to 2005. Now retired, he continues to work part-time on Beach Naturalist and Citizen Science programs for the Aquarium.

Leo was a board member of the American Cetacean Society Seattle Chapter in the 1980s. He currently volunteers as Science and Education Advisor for Seal Sitters, and as a marine-mammal expert for The Whale Trail.

About The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail (www.thewhaletrail.org) is a series of sites around the region where the public may view orcas and other marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. Our overarching goal is to ensure the southern resident orcas don’t go extinct.

Through our current sites and signs, including two on every Washington State ferry, we reach more than 30 million people each year. The Whale Trail is currently adding new sites along the west coast, from BC to California, throughout the southern resident orcas’ range.

The Whale Trail is led by a core team of partners including NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Seattle Aquarium, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Whale Museum. Donna Sandstrom is the Founder and Executive Director. The Whale Trail is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, registered in Washington State. Join us!

Photos of River Otter, and Sea Otter with Pups, by Leo Shaw
Photos of River Otter, and Sea Otter with Pups, by Leo Shaw
The Whale Trail Presents
A Tale of Two Otters: Natural History of River Otters and Sea Otters
Presentation by Leo Shaw
When: Thursday, April 30th, 7PM
–Doors open 6:15
Where: C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW
Cost: $5 suggested donation. (Kids get in free!)
Advance tickets: brown paper tickets.com
Photos of River Otter, and Sea Otter with Pups, by Leo Shaw
Photos of River Otter, and Sea Otter with Pups, by Leo Shaw

Tour EcoHomes and Get Ideas for Yours!

Forty homes to open their doors for this

weekend’s free Northwest Green Home Tour


SEATTLE — Forty homeowners in the greater Seattle area will invite the public into their new, remodeled or energy-retrofitted homes this weekend — April 25 and 26 — during the Fifth Annual Northwest Green Home Tour.


From West Seattle to Woodinville and from Edmonds to Auburn, this free, family-friendly tour offers something for everyone — solar panels, advanced insulation and geothermal heat pumps; rainwater collection and stormwater management systems; reclaimed and recycled materials;LEED, Built Green and Passive House standards; and much more.


Four homes generate enough clean solar electricity to meet their own household needs and charge their electric cars, and one home collects enough rain on the roof to meet all of that household’s water needs.


“Our goal is to educate consumers about all ‘shades’ of green building,” said Wayne Apostolik, president of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild – Seattle. “Tour visitors will see what’s possible in all price ranges, home styles and lifestyles.”


Presented by the EcoBuilding Guild with generous support from Greenhome Solutions, the tour takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, although not all homes are open on both days. In addition to 40 homes, the tour features several “sustainability stops” at regional sustainable businesses that will offer free and healthy refreshments, product discounts and demonstrations.


While the tour is free, tickets are required.




“This is a fun, eye-opening tour for any individual or family that’s curious about the latest innovations in healthy, energy- and water-efficient homes,” said Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien. “The professionals in the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild are dedicated to creating homes that have healthy indoor air and also integrate clean and passive energy technologies that release few if any greenhouse gases into our environment. The Northwest Green Home Tour is a great way for our community to stretch the celebration of this week’s 45th Earth Day through the weekend.”




The nonprofit Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is a community of construction-related professionals and homeowners who are concerned with ecological building in the Pacific Northwest and who empower and educate others to transform the built environment for long-term sustainability.


Katia Blackburn, MBA


Blackburn Communications, Inc.

Seattle, WA



APPLY NOW TO Get a Veggie Garden in South Park/Georgetown/Delridge

Live in South Park/Georgetown/Delridge?
Low Income?
Get a Veggie Garden on May 16!


Seattle Tilth’s Just Garden program is seeking people who are interested in growing some of their own food but can’t afford the start-up costs of building their own garden. On May 16, thirty raised bed gardens will be built in backyards and also apartment buildings, senior centers, schools, houses of worship or community centers (with the permission of the management) for people who have low incomes (qualify for food stamps). If that’s you and you live in South Park, Georgetown or Delridge (east of Delridge Way SW), we will build you a garden! Find out more about our garden building event.


The value of materials and staff time for each 4’x8’ garden bed is about $500, butwe ask for only a $25 contribution per bed from each garden recipient, thanks to funding from King County’s Green Grant program. This also includes four free seminars on beginning organic gardening, which will cover the basics of soils and soil building, year-round gardening, crop rotation and integrated pest management and composting. We want gardeners to help gardeners have a successful start gardening!
Are you interested or know someone who might be? Apply now — applications are due by Thursday, April 30 at the absolute latest.


We are also seeking volunteers — lend a hand! It’s on Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Afterwards share a celebratory lunch with everyone involved. Make sure to dress for dirty work and weather. Email justgarden@seattletilth.org.

King County Master Gardeners’ Plant Sale

2015 King County Master Gardener Plant Sale will be Sat. May 2, and Sun. May 3. Find plants from Master Gardeners and specialty growers, get free garden design consultations and quick tips, mini-seminars about growing veggies and herbs, personal shopping advice from experienced Master Gardeners, information booths about pruning, natives, roses, and bees by local organizations. Select garden art and more from select vendors. See the veggie catalogs and tomato list at http://mgfkc.org/plant-sale.


Find it all at UW Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle.


Shop ahead of the crowds at the Preview Party fundraiser on Fri. May 1. Pick plants as you enjoy fresh creations from local chefs. Join Ciscoe Morris as he bestows the Golden Brussels Sprouts Award, and Celebrity Chef Roy Breiman, as he bestows the Chef’s Choice Award, along with local garden authors Marianne Binetti and Bill Thorness. Get tickets early at http://mgfkc.org/plant-sale-preview-party. All proceeds benefit the Master Gardener Foundation of King County and the local Master Gardeners.


Rain or shine, we hope to see you and help you start the best garden ever this year.