CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Don’t Sweat It, Rent It!

Remodeling: Maybe it’s because a power tool is in the repair shop.

Or an extra tool could help on a big new project.

Or you need project capability without a big upfront tool cost.

Today there are all sorts of good reasons why thousands of contractors routinely rent instead of buy the tools they need now.

9 comments:

Delaney Johnson said...

I will admit that I am not the first person anyone should go to when their question involves a power tool or any tool for that matter. When it comes to construction I am by no means the sharpest saw in the tool room. What I do appreciate about this article though is how tool rental can help any group or performance be put on without the need for a large basis of tools or an are to store them. I came from a high school that did not have a lot of funds or storage area devoted to theatre. If we needed a tool we would have to borrow it because we had no money to buy it and know where to put it once we were done with it. It is rental programs such as the ones mentioned above that allowed us the access to the materials we needed to put on our show. I think it is very important that this program and other rental programs for sets, lighting and even venues continue. Without these temporary solutions many theatre makers could not do the pieces they wish to present.

Katherine Sharpless said...

I don't know as much about carpentry as I would like to, but I think this article will stick with me for a while. There are so many benefits to this program or others like it. In stagecraft we've learned about how the lighting industry is working to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, and I think rental programs for carpenters can be a step towards increased industry efficiency, especially considering how many of our sets are destroyed and thrown out as a show closes. Rental programs exist for costumes and props, but because Home Depot runs this program across the country, more and more theaters can easily benefit from renting tools more than they can from renting from warehouses. I can really see my high school shop and local community theaters back home benefitting from tool rental, especially when they can't save from borrowing everything else from hard to contact or far away places.

Lauren Miller said...

I understand why this is an excellent idea for short term projects, or for when you need a specialty tool, but I cannot see rental being a good option for long-running shops. Rental is a cheap option in the short term, but one hundred dollars a day adds up extremely quickly. A job-site table saw costs between two and six hundred dollars. Buying a saw over renting it becomes the cheaper option after just a few days. A table saw is one of the most commonly used tools in a shop and some home-improvement projects, and a job-site saw can fold up and be stored in a common garden shed or garage. It's not really worth it to rent a "pro" tool that you have the space for and plan to use everyday. There are also tools that are just really cool and you want to own so you can use them because it's fun and/or tell your neighbors about the fact that you own this cool tool so that they will be impressed and invite you to brunch more often. I personally own a jet mini-lathe because it's a tool that I use frequently in my free time and I don't commonly have access to through CMU. The only tools that should be rented, when you have a shop, are the weird ones for materials or processes that you only use every once in awhile, such as a tile saw. No theatrical shop really needs to own a tile saw.

Jacob Wesson said...

I try to refrain from commenting on tool articles, but this brings up an interesting idea in the tool world that can have applications far past the realm of theatre. The first thing that comes to mind reading this are small storefront productions with very low budgets and not a whole lot of tools between the whole gang, and a clever way to alleviate that would be to rent tools. I agree with Lauren that the price is perhaps a little too steep for the small-scale productions that I think this would be particularly effective for. My personal thoughts lean more towards the rental of drills and hammers and the like, not a full blown table saw, since if you need to rent a table saw you're probably going to be doing something bigger than a tool rental will be able to cover. I think that appeal of getting to learn new tools solely by renting them and discovering their applications is a strong one, since there's always something new coming out that we haven't learned how to use and haven't had the ability to just go out and buy a new tool. The lighting industry is big on rentals, and I think that by repurposing those ideas to a carpentry setting, shops can be more fluid and ready to tackle the odd challenges that can come up.

Evan Schild said...

This I feel like is an amazing idea home depot has. In my high school theater all our tools were broken/ we didn't have the correct tools. So we either had to improvise or borrow from a janitor if one was around. If one was not around we would not be able to build that day. If we knew about this program we would have love to do this. Getting tools that work and are reliable would have been a dream come true. Programs like this would have enabled us to build even more complex sets since we would have had the tools to use it! Hopefully more people use this program and home depot on the other side not over charge people!

Monica Skrzypczak said...

While I love the idea that Home Depot rents out tools, and I think it’s a great idea, the practicality of renting tools is not as great. Over the summer I worked on a show with other CMU students that had no shop. I had to find all the tools, and when my family and friends didn't have all the tools I wanted, I turned to Home Depot for renting. Except it ended up being really expensive for anything more than one day. Now, my problem was that I wanted smaller tools that were fairly common- drills, palm sanders, circular saw. These tools to buy new only cost +/- $200 so after a few times rented you’d rack up the cost to buy one new. However, this does make sense for contractors who need the obscure heavy duty tools like jackhammers or carpet cleaners that you really don’t need every day and are substantially more expensive than hand tools. Then this service is more practical. But it become impractical for us in the scene shop world where we need these tools on the daily and we don’t need the super heavy duty saw very often- or at all.

William Lowe said...

I think that this idea of tool renting is a very good one which I think some high schools — I know this is true for my high school — either do not consider or do not utilize enough for their theatrical productions. Every large musical my high school would rent the costumes, but usually nothing else. I know of a lot of high schools who would rent microphones for their musicals, but one does not often hear about high schools renting anything else for their theatrical productions. I know that my high school only rented a large puppet and a single drop — both for the same show. I also know that they made decisions to purchase when they really should have just rented and jobs which would have been made easier by just renting a specific tool. I think there are two negative effects of the former part of that statement. If one buys instead of renting, the “thing” will have to be stored and will always be somewhere bouncing around the theatre or storage area taking up space. The other issue is that it is more expensive to purchase, so if one rents what they would otherwise buy, there would be extra money to use on something else.

Evan Smith said...

I’ve rented a few tools over the years, of course that was partially due to the fact that the neighbor didn’t have it, and it was a one time thing. It must be cost effective to be able to rent a tool or tools for a project. The only condition for you is that you just want it to work the way you want it to, and not have to worry about repairs in the long run. I prefer to have my own set of tools when everything is said and done. Much of that will be determined to where I end up living. Whether I have a house or an apartment, there are some items I just wouldn’t need. Home Depot allows you to use bigger tools that I guess aren’t really your household standard. Plus what are the chances that they just might be out of the tool you need to rent. Are you supposed to make some sort of reservation for it?

Cosette Craig said...

I love renting tools. It gives me the opportunity to try out anything I need without the price or commitment. I think this is a very suiting option for theater because we always have to do odd jobs that require very specialized tools but we don't necessarily have the budget to do so. I think efforts like this to rent tools can contribute to experimental theater as well. Not all productions have the space or money to put on a full fledged show in an auditorium. This could help alleviate the need for a large stocked scene shop and promote the spontaneity of small theater shows by giving them an opportunity to build wherever whenever without commitment to everything they're buying. It seems like when you logistically get into renting a tool things might get sticky, but for small theaters and very unusual tasks, home depot is the place to go.