Tool Talk

Every serious do-it-yourselfer knows you have to own a bunch of tools. Right?

But surely, it’s cheaper to rent them. Right?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Bruce Beemish, who describes himself as “chief cook and bottle-washer” at Yukon Service Rentals, isn’t shy about giving advice.

If you’re thinking about renting a reciprocal saw, or a cordless drill, forget it, he suggests.

Such tools are available “so darned cheap” nowadays, he doesn’t even stock them.

“Even nailers. Look how cheap finish nailers are these days. You can pick them up for 59 or 49 dollars. So at $10 a day, or even $8 a day, times five, you’ve already paid for it. So go buy it. Sell it to the neighbour when you’re done.”

And if you have such a tool that needs repair, don’t bother asking Beemish to fix it.

“Throw it away. At $65 an hour, you don’t want me playing with something that only cost $40. That doesn’t make sense.”

Down the road at MacPherson Rentals, front-end manager Carrie Bragg gives the same kind of advice.

“If you think you’re ever going to do more than two or three jobs, it’s definitely worth it to buy that sort of thing,” she says.

“We do have a few table saws and things like that, but they’re not a very popular rental.”

So what do Yukoners rent when they have a DIY project on the go?

“Drywall lifters. Flooring nailers. They were pretty heavy this year,” Beemish says.

“For the real stuff, the ¾-inch. The actual hardwood.”

Bragg sounds almost like an echo.

“Probably the most popular items are going to be the hardwood flooring nailers, the roofing nailers, lawn and garden stuff, like aerators—when the snow melts, obviously,” she says.

“Probably the biggest home do-it-yourself rental is the lawn and garden.”

Rototillers, adds Beemish.

“I’ve got 12 rototillers, they’re all serviced, ready to go. And as soon as the ground is broken, I’ll be out in two days,” he says.

“And as soon as the lawns go, all my aerators, all my lawn equipment, it’ll all be gone. I’ll have waiting lists.”

Other popular items for both businesses—floor sanders.

“Floor sanders are another big rental. The drum sanders for sanding your own decks, or re-finishing your hardwood floors,” says Bragg.

“The sanders went out over the winter—your drum, and the big orbital. People like at the Takhini homes, they see the hardwood, they’re re-doing it, bringing it back to life,” Beemish affirms.

Another in-demand item Beemish stocks is the 35-foot sewer snake.

“I’ve got a couple of people come in every fall. They’re older people. They snake their stuff over the weekend, and say, ‘See you next year.’ And that saves so much trouble, it really does. Preventive maintenance, I guess.”

Bragg, on the other hand, doesn’t carry sewer snakes. Not a profitable line, she says.

But what about the quirky side of rental requests?

After five years in the business, Beemish has lots of anecdotes.

“A parachute. Metal detectors—lost my cellphone, lost my keys. Oh, do I have cabins for rent, and if I do, how many do I have?”

His all-time favourite, though, is the couple with a squirrel in their wall, who wanted to rent an infrared camera.

“That was just a kick in the teeth. I almost had to cover the phone, I was laughing so hard,” he says.

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