Tool Rental Know-How
The right tools to rent
The benefits of ownership are often overrated. Renting a tool can be a far smarter way to go than purchasing it. Renting can be far cheaper, and you’ll get the latest version of the tool. You can try out a new-to-you tool. Maintenance is not your headache. For instance you don’t have to store large tools, like a cement mixer. (You do have to return them!) Of course renting is particularly great for those tools you only need for a one-time job. How often do you need a wet saw, or a jackhammer?
But don’t stop there. Most people are unaware of the vast variety of expert tools available for rental from any decent rental store. The choices are mind-boggling and inspiring. Many of these tools will make a tough job easy and smooth. I did a tile fireplace once only because I was able to rent that wet saw to cut through marble like butter.
Every year or so I walk through a large rental place just looking to see what’s available. I come away with ideas like: why use a post hole digger for a fence line when you can rent an auger? Firewood time: rent log splitter, idle rest of the year. At a well-stocked rental store you can rent almost any tool you can think of: paper shredders, moisture meters, gas detectors, chimney brushes, sewer cameras, staple hammers, and so on. I’ll try new things because I know I can rent the right tool.
Here is a small selection of tools you can rent. Most great rental centers seem regional. (Can anyone suggest a great national rental store?) I’ve given approximate rates per day as a guideline, but most will also rent per hour, or half day too.
Mini Excavator – Aaaah, so cute! This 3-foot wide excavator will go where its big brothers can’t: through a gate, in between houses, onto landscaping, near foundations, into backyards. Its arm can reach out 13 feet and dig down 8 feet, and is strong enough to do minor earthwork. Some have a self-leveling cabin that really helps offset that paralyzing feeling on a slope that you are going to tip over. I recommend practicing before you get in close quarters. $275 per day.
Steam Wallpaper Remover – Removing wall paper is an ugly mess, and hopefully only a once-in-your-lifetime job, but this makes it possible. $40 per day.
Magnetic Sweeper – Construction has a nasty habit of seeding driveways with tire-eating nails, screws, and shrapnel. You sweep this thing over the pavement (or lawn) and it sucks up the nasties. A pull on the handle releases the ferrous bits. Good to do at least once after the contractors leave. $25 per day.
Post Puller – When you need to pull up old posts, this jack does the trick. $40 per day.
Stump Grinder – No other way to remove a stump. The grinder swings back and forth, throwing off a huge pile of chips. Despite its power, slowly nibbling across the stump down to its roots (don’t even think of using a chain saw) will take longer than you think. $125 per day.
Tall Ladder – Wide-footed, tall ladders get you places you don’t want to get to other ways. But who wants to store these when they are not in use? $25 per day.
Wet Saw – An abrasive wheel lubricated by water hooked up to your garden house. Will easily and fairly accurately cut tile, pavers, concrete, stone, etc. Use outside if possible. $85 per day.
Hole Auger – Far superior when you have many post holes to dig. The two-person version is easiest to use – if you have a second person. It is heavy; the weight of the machine does the work. $80 per day.
Electric Conveyor Belt – For schlepping rock, dirt, debris out of a basement or over a fence. The 12-inch width fits through even a tiny window. What a time saver! Can be maneuvered with two people and hooks up to a standard tow hitch. $250 per day.
Electric Jack Hammer – This has one moving part: it. Will pulverize concrete, whether in a wall or on the floor. Not easy to handle, it will give you a workout. Even though it is electric, it still requires ear protection. $100 per day.
Carpet Dryer – When a flood soaks your wall-to-wall carpeting, you need to dry it out as fast as possible. Stick the “nose” of one of these under the yanked up edge and keep it running till everything dries out. You’ll probably need more than one, and you’ll need to have electric power on. $30 per day.
Ditch Witch – These walk-behind ditch diggers come in all sizes. The small ones will dig narrow trenches for irrigation and cables 12 to 18 inches deep; larger ones for larger or deeper pipes. Call 811 to make sure you ain’t cutting through underground utilities. $280 per day.
Heat Cannon – This is a mega heat gun. Used to hurry the drying of paint or sheet rock spackle. It eats lots of propane and oxygen – ventilation is a must. $135 per day.
Boom Lift – For working on ceilings, signs, chimneys, roofs. May be cheaper than scaffolding if you have wheeled access. $280 per day.
Conduit Bender – Bends electrical conduit cleanly. Cheap to rent. Get the right sized diameter for your pipe. $6 per day.
Wood Chipper – After a storm, after tree pruning, this will turn a pile of branches into compostable mulch. Not hard to use; you’ll need a hitch to haul it. $225 per day.
Plumber’s Snake – The industrial version of the little one in hardware stores. Powered by an electric motor, this will clean out your sewer drains, chewing up gunk and even roots. It’s a do it yourself version of Roto-rooter. $90 per day.
Log Splitter –Tow it to your trees. In one day two energetic workers can make a huge pile of firewood assisted by one of these. There are a thousand models out there; the better ones flip from vertical to horizontal to suit your site. $100 per day.
Pipe Locator – Will locate buried pipes, which is no small feat if you’ve tried to do it by other means. $55 per day.
Airless Paint Sprayer – Will lay paint or stain as fast as you can walk. Sucks the paint from its own 5-gallon bucket. You’ll need long cords to feed its electric motor. $90 per day.
Fence Post Driver – Really the only way to bang metal fence posts into the ground. Lift up the weight with two hands, pull down hard over the post. It will employ muscles you have never used before. $13 per day.
Horizontal Drill – Drills under sidewalks, patios, even streets. You keep adding pipe sections to the front probe as you progress. How else are you going to get that wire under cement? Uses water pressure. $75 per day.
Water Leak Detector – This electronic stethoscope listens for leaks in water pipes. Needs to be fairly close. $22 per day.
Carpet Stretchers – The secret tool for laying carpet, either new or after it has dried from being wet. Comes in either knee-powered, or lever operated. $30 per day.
Brush Hog – Every now weeds take over a lot, along driveways, and you need to cut them down to size. Some models like this one will handle saplings 2 inches thick. $100 per day.
Piano Dolly – These two trucks sandwich an upright piano so that it can be rolled around without damaging its legs. $22 per day.
Mini Mortar Mixer – You don’t need a full-sized cement mixer to do mortar jobs like laying brick or stone, or making stucco. $50 per day.
Rototiller – A mini horse and plow. Really useful when starting your garden area from sod. $85 per day.
Concrete Cutoff Saw – Cut cement or asphalt! Electric or gas. For bigger jobs you can get a walk-behind variety. Either way you’ll have to pay extra for blades since they wear out quickly. $100 per day.