Maybe it's because DIY is ingrained into Portland's ethos, but you can rent just about anything here. If you want to get into homesteading or home improvement but don't have any of the necessary equipment—or if you overdid the whole Marie Kondo thing and suddenly realize you do actually need that cake tin—this city has you covered.
We've compiled a list of local companies and organizations that loan tools and equipment for projects, hobbies or both. Renting á la carte can be a money-suck instead of a money-saver, but most of the places below loan their inventories out for membership fees, which often means you can use whatever you need or want for much cheaper than the cost of buying it, and without accumulating clutter.
Each of Portland's four tool libraries—there's one in Kenton (2209 N Schofield St., northportlandtoollibrary.org), Buckman (1137 SE 20th Ave., septl.org), Killingsworth (5431 NE 20th Ave., neptl.org) and Lents (9215 SE Ramona St., greenlents.org)—have inventories to equip pretty much any home improvement project from the ground up, from wrenches, rakes and rulers to soldering guns and machetes. Membership for each tool library is free, though the Southeast library recommends a donation of $10 to $40. So even if you join to borrow something like a lawnmower that you plan on using repeatedly, it's still cost-effective.
Going to a bike mechanic might be cheaper than fixing something on your car, but anything more than a tire change typically costs triple digits. And while bikes are easier to fix yourself than cars—there's also no chance of combustion if you screw up—it's unlikely you'll use a chain remover or torque wrench with enough regularity to justify the purchase. Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st Ave., bikefarm.org) offers access to all the same tools professional bike shops use, and membership options range from a $5-an-hour drop-in fee to $200 for lifetime access. Some Portland tool libraries also stock bike equipment, but at Bike Farm, volunteers will teach you how to fix your bike.
PORTLAND KITCHEN SHARE
Unless you're Ina Garten or Martha Stewart, there's no way you're using a cider press or a Belgian waffle maker on the regular. Portland Kitchen Share (2800 SE Harrison St. and 5431 NE 20th Ave., kitchenshare.org) loans equipment to anyone with addresses in Northeast, North and most of Southeast Portland. Its inventory includes dehydrators, fermentation bowls, cheese equipment and even something called a grain flaker. But it isn't only for casual homesteaders—it has food processors, ice cream makers and basically everything you'd need to make a cake. Sure, you can just buy a spatula or mixing bowl for a few bucks at Goodwill, but it seems pointless to own your own knife sharpener or extra place settings when you could just borrow them as often as you need for a one-time, $10-to-$30 sliding-scale membership fee.
Getting into basically any outdoor sport requires large upfront costs. In Portland, there are several options if you want to rent outdoor equipment while building up your own collection, or simply want to avoid filling your basement with gear. Next Adventure (426 SE Grand Ave., nextadventure.net) has one of the city's best-stocked bargain basements, plus a paddle sports center that rents the basics you'll need for a kayaking or paddleboard trip. As its name implies, Portland Mountain Shop (1510 NE 37th Ave., mountainshop.net) specializes in snow sport supplies and rentals, but it also offers rentals for other excursions, including mountain bikes and backpacking gear at bundle prices. If you really don't want to do any planning, Xscape Pod (xscapepod.com) rents out more elaborate camping gear packages and will even book a campsite for you.
There are probably only a handful of Portlanders currently considering purchasing a bunch of Eurorack synths, so it might be a stretch to categorize Synth Library (7320 NE Sandy Blvd., s1portland.com/synth-library) as a way to "save" money. But it is one of the cheapest ways to learn a new instrument in Portland, and one of the only libraries of its kind in the entire world. Tucked into a backroom of S1's Sandy Boulevard venue, the Synth Library is a collection of popular modular models, recording programs, DJ equipment and one-of-a-kind synths available for public use at a membership fee of $20 a month. You're required to take an intro workshop before you use any of the equipment, and facilitators are always on hand during the library's hours.
KITTIES FOR HIRE
If your warehouse or barn has a rodent problem and would rather not hire an exterminator or set up tons of traps, you could just get a super-mean cat for free through Kitties for Hire (multcopets.org/kitties-for-hire). The Multnomah County Animal Services program places felines that are too unsociable for adoption into working environments. It's not technically a rental since the hope is that you won't return the cat, and though it may sound absurd, it's actually altruistic—the program is a last resort for cats that would otherwise be euthanized, and places them with owners who are responsible for their care but will otherwise leave them the hell alone.