South King Tool Library Executive Director Larry Todd pictured at the library’s ground breaking ceremony in November 2018. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

South King Tool Library Executive Director Larry Todd pictured at the library’s ground breaking ceremony in November 2018. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

South King Tool Library still under construction

Nonprofit officials are aiming to open the tool library in June.

The South King Tool Library is still under construction, the nonprofit’s officials say.

In November, the South King Tool Library hosted a groundbreaking ceremony with sights set on opening in March, although the timeline has now changed.

The SKTL is aiming, and tirelessly working, to open in June, said Larry Todd, executive director of the South King Tool Library.

“We need all the community assistance we can get to make that happen,” Todd said about this pivotal time in the library’s development.

The lack of a project manager presence has slowed the process, he said, and it’s been a massive learning process for all individuals involved.

While it may look like a small project to some, it does not feel that way to those who are quite literally building this nonprofit from the ground up, he said.

“We’ve got a lot to do in front of us, but we’ve got a lot of energy starting to come together for us,” Todd said.

“It’s two steps forward, one step back. Or two steps forward, three steps sideways.”

There’s about eight stages of construction to get the tool library from beginning to end.

The decking of the SKTL is almost complete, along with the electrical. Then comes the roofing, gate and security measures, back wall, main door and infrastructure, along with growing the tool library itself in terms of items for people to check out, he said.

Operation of the tool library is similar to that of a traditional book library. Upon signing up for a membership with donation of a small annual fee, people may check out up to five tools for one week at a time.

The tool library is strongly donation-based when it comes to tools, funds, and now more than ever, volunteer skill.

While the tool library broke ground in late 2018, the harsh winter months of severe storms led to lack of volunteer action, Todd told the Mirror.

Ultimately, the speed and success of SKTL depends on people’s interest, how much can be accomplished in a period of time, and knowing their next move after each inspection, Todd said.

The South King Tool Library aims to empower residents, especially those in marginalized groups such as women or minorities, by providing resources and knowledge about repairs and waste reduction, Todd said.

“It’s intimidating to go after this big endeavour,” said board member Amanda Miller. “We’re doing something that has literally never been done before, that’s why it’s hard.”

But on the other hand, this do-it-yourself attitude is the exact belief they hope to bring to Federal Way, she said.

The city has been “fabulous” in their support of this budding nonprofit, Miller said. Building permits are approved section by section for construction, then the approved section is completed, and the stop-and-go process repeats.

Many people have generously donated their time, ideas, and plans, and now it’s time to put the plans into action, Miller said.

“We’ve been really fortunate to partner with the people that we have,” Miller said.

SKTL has partnered with various organizations in Federal Way and the surrounding area, including Shelley Pauls’s “We Love Our City” nonprofit.

Thinking back to the beginning of the SKTL in 2014, the initial idea was a “job shack” that would be towed to the Federal Way Senior Center, said board treasurer Jeanette Jurgensen.

“To get to a building — an actual building — is just amazing,” she said.

“And anything worth doing is worth doing right,” Miller tagged on.

While sufficient, a job shack wouldn’t fulfill the scope of what this tool library is, and could be, Jurgensen said.

When talk of a tool library began five years ago, the idea was for people to maintain their homes and yards for minimal cost, Jurgensen said. Then it grew into the ability to provide tools for community clean-up events.

Now it is constantly morphing into an idea with endless possibilities:

Journeymen learning new skills or those looking to gain work skills in order to support themselves. Partnering with local youth clubs or the school district to offer classes and workshops. A way to address issues within the city and proactively engage the community in solutions.

“There’s just so many things we can help overcome, and encourage, and hopefully save people money in the long run,” Jurgensen said.

There is a large need for a tool library in the Federal Way area as the only other options are libraries in Seattle or Tacoma, Todd said.

Simply having someone, such as a volunteer welder the SKTL recently lined up, who can donate time and say, “I’ll let you know what materials I need …” brings a huge relief to the tool library team, he said.

It’s not rocket science, Todd admits, but there’s a complexity on how to get the word out that this resource exists to serve the community.

For a nonprofit looking to help the community, the tool library is asking for the community’s help. Experts in construction, or any phase of building, along with supplies or money for supplies, are the paramount requests of SKTL, Todd said.

“It doesn’t have to be a massive contribution, it just has to be laser-focused,” Todd said.

South King Tool Library will be participating in the city of Federal Way Recycling Event Saturday, April 20 by collecting donations of tools from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Wild Waves parking lot (36892 Milton Road S. in Federal Way).

For Parks Appreciation Day Saturday, April 27, South King Tool Library will be at Saghalie Park (33914 19th Ave. SW in Federal Way) from 9 a.m. to noon.

The next SKTL repair cafe will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at 1700 S. 340th St. in Federal Way.

Once completed, the library will be open Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m at 1700 S. 340th St.

For more information or to get involved, visit

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