Blue Tool Tippin’ – Compost Style!

Your ATL ToolBank’s fab new intern, Bernie Atkinson, has already mastered the warehouse – so we’ve set her loose with her first #DIY blog! Check out her adventures in compost below and stay tuned for more of Bernie’s Adventures in Tool Land…

Super Easy. Super Stylin’.  How to MakeYour Very Own Compost Bin Out of Pallets!

We are fast approaching the end of summer here in Georgia, and with that, gardening season is coming to a close.  That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t do something to make next years’ plantings even better, starting right now.  If you don’t already have a compost bin working in your backyard, fall is a great time to start it off.  The last of this years’ grass clippings mixed with some raked up leaves and kitchen scraps make up one of nature’s finest soil amendments so that your veggies can grow bigger, more productively, and, if you’re doing it right, cheaper.

PalletCompost1Pallets are a great source of upcyclable wood, and can frequently be found for free on Craigslist or even on the side of the road.  Be sure, though, that the pallets you have are safe to be used for vegetable gardening.  Look for an “HT” marking somewhere on the wood.  This stands for “Heat Treated”.  The other treatment used on pallets is Methyl Bromide, marked MB, which is a pesticide and fumigant that could potentially leak into your compost.  If a pallet is unmarked, it is best to fear the worst and not use that pallet for a food contact application.

Pallet Compost2For this project, we will be using the following tools and materials:

  • Hammer
  • Wonder Bar
  • Cordless Screwdriver
  • Drill Bit and Phillips Head Bit
  • Clamps
  • Saw
  • Safety Goggles
  • 2” Screws
  • Four Pallets of the Same Size

We also enthusiastically recommend a hardy pair of work gloves and a bucket for catching nails.

PalletCompost4Step 1:  Remove the bottom slats

Start by removing the bottom slats of the pallet using the hammer and wonder bar.  A few gentle taps with the hammer should allow you to finagle your pry bar in and start getting some work done.

Remove all three bottom slats from all four of your pallets, pull any nails still left in the stringers, and your pallet should look something like this:


PalletCompost5Step 2:  Remove the stringers from two of the pallets

Next, we are going to pull the two outside stringers off of two of the pallets.  Using the same hammer and pry technique we used in step one, start loosening the slats from the 2X4’s.

To get the nails out of the slats with as little effort as possible, tap each board with the hammer.  This pushes the nail heads out of the wood and allows some purchase for your hammer to pull them out.

At this point, two of our pallets should look like this:


PalletCompost9Step 3:  Cut a pallet in half

Next we are going to take one of the pallets we just created and cut it in half.  You can use a lot of different kinds of saw to do this, so long as it can cut a flush line through a 2X4 against a slat.  We used a circular saw.

Step 4: Screw it all together

Take one pallet with three stringers and one pallet with just the middle stringer and stand them up to make a corner.  Square up the edge and PalletCompost10clamp the pallets together.  (We had to set them on another pallet to give us a flat working surface, but it isn’t attached.)

Starting at the top, begin predrilling holes two per slat.  If you try to screw into the pallets without predrilling, the wood will split.  When you’re done predrilling, go back through, this time with screws.

Join another three stringer board to the other side and repeat the predrilling and screwing steps.

PalletCompost11Finally, screw the half pallet to bottom half of the front of the bin.

That’s it!  Put the bin somewhere in your yard and start filling it.  With the occasional turn with a pitchfork, you should have a heaping helping of loamy, nutrient rich compost to add to your gardens next spring.

PalletCompost13 PalletCompst12PalletCompost13PalletCompost14PalletCompost15


Blue Tool Tippin’ – Chalk It Up To Fun!

For several months now, I’ve been fielding loads of calls from service groups looking for affordable chalkboard paint. Volunteers are super eager to enhance outdoor learning and play spaces with this ultra-versatile, yet a bit pricey, product. And while ToolBank does offer some great consumable project supplies, we do firmly leave the paint off the warehouse shelves. However, that does not mean we can’t share how to chalk it up without blowing your budget. Thus, this week’s hot tool tip is how to make your own chalkbaord paint, presented by the cost-saving gurus at

So service groups – have some fun mixing it up and check out your friendly Atlanta Community ToolBank to borrow the right tools to get the good deeds done: Paint Trays, Mixing Tubs, Hand Sanders, Roller Cages, Disposable Gloves, Paintbrushes, Painter’s Tape and more.

For more info on how ToolBank can help your organization serve more, while spending less click now!

ChalkPaintDIY Chalkboard Paint

There have been some trends in the DIY market that have come and gone, but there is one that has stuck around: Chalkboard Paint! It is such a creative paint to work with as you can apply it to just about anything and it becomes a writable surface. But have you ever considered making your own? It’s surprisingly easy to do and it will save you a ton of money by making it at home! Check out the recipe below to make your own DIY chalkboard paint:


  • 1 Tbsp of Unsanded Grout
  • 1/2 Cup of Acrylic Paint (Any color you like!)
  • Mixing Bowl & Mixing Tool


  1. Start by combining paint and grout together in your mixing bowl.
  2. Mix until no lumps are present and till your color is the shade you want.
  3. Then paint your surface with your newly created paint!
  4. Make sure to prep the chalkboard surface after the paint has dried by rubbing chalk on the full surface and wiping it off.
  5. Your chalkboard is ready to be written on!
  6. Store paint in the fridge between uses.

Keep even more volunteers working hard across our Metro, blue tools in hand!

Even 'lil volunteers can paint a difference! She's sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

Even ‘lil volunteers can paint a difference! She’s sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

Blue Tool Tippin’ – Concrete Style

Each month, we’ll be highlighting common volunteer project scopes and giving you the full scoop on how to get it all done!

August’s edition is courtesy of and includes easy use of  some good ‘ole standards, all featured in your local ToolBank lending inventory, of course:

  • Circular saw
  • Bucket
  • Cold chisel
  • Dust mask
  • Kneepads
  • Trowel

Volunteer project sites can often be filled (all pun intended) with some daunting tasks! Next time the concrete at your service gig needs a little TLC, fill in those cracks following these easy step-by-step directions:

FH10SEP_CONREP_01Photo 1: Cut a chiseling groove

Using a diamond blade on your circular saw, cut a 1/2-in.-deep groove along each side of the crack. Wear an N-95 respirator and turn on a fan to blow the concrete dust out of the garage. Chip out the cracked portion with a maul and cold chisel.

Concrete cracks are caused by sideways expansion, poor drainage conditions or settling soil beneath the concrete. If your concrete is the same height on both sides of the crack, you can fix it yourself. But you have to enlarge the crack (Photo 1). Then power-wash the area and squeegee off the excess water before applying the filler. Fill with a polymer-modified cement such as Quikrete concrete resurfacer No. 1131. Our crack was wide and deep, so we chiseled out the entire opening and refilled it (Photos 2 and 3). However, if one side of the crack is lower, call an expert to diagnose and fix the underlying soil/drainage problem. Then either replace the sunken portion or call a mud-jacking company to raise it.

FH10SEP_CONREP_02Photo 2: Knock out the old stuff

Chip out the cracked portion with a maul and cold chisel. Remove the chipped pieces and vacuum out the crack before power washing.

Chip out the cut concrete to get a fresh surface so the new concrete can bond to it.




FH10SEP_CONREP_03 (1)Photo 3: Fill groove with concrete

Add latex modifier to regular concrete mix and pack it into the channel. Fill to within 1/2 in. of the original height. Let it set up for a few days, then fill with resurfacer.

Establish a solid base for the resurfacer by filling the opening with concrete and letting it dry (see Photo 3).




Photo 4: Spread the resurfacer

Pour concrete resurfacing mixture into the crack and smooth it out with a rubber floor squeegee. Feather the edges to get the best appearance.

Add water to the resurfacer mix to get the consistency of pancake batter. Then fill the remainder of the groove and smooth it over.




   Looking for more big tips? Check out our volunteer project dream board:

No Monkeying Around… It’s the Tool of the Week!

wrenchIt’s not always righty-tighty and lefty-loosey with this week’s cool-tool. The pipe wrench, also known as the monkey wrench, is a great gadget to twist and grip those round pipes. Just be sure not to use it on bolts, as the edges will strip. The ToolBank offers our member agencies access to pipe wrenches in sizes ranging from 8 inch to 3 feet. It’s a bit of an obscure tool for volunteer use and generally utilized by nonprofit maintenance staff for facility repairs.

Be sure to check out more fun pics and even share your fave tool-repurposed art or cool tool antiques on our board:

FunDay Monday – Our Tool of the Week

PaintTrayThis week’s cool tool: the paint tray! We loaned these bad boys out 1,361 times last year and volunteers sure would hate to paint without them – especially since ToolBank equips over 600 painting projects annually. Plus, they make for some great artsy trinkets.

Be sure to check out more fun pics and even share your fave tool-repurposed art or cool tool antiques on our Pinterest board:

Buckhead Church volunteers refurbish an Atlanta Boys and Girls Club.

Buckhead Church volunteers refurbish an Atlanta Boys and Girls Club.

Even 'lil volunteers can paint a difference! She's sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

Even ‘lil volunteers can paint a difference! She’s sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

You Have The Power!

You Have The Power!

Ready to make your own impact?  As a nonprofit, the ToolBank needs YOU to give a little, so local volunteers can give a lot. Simply click above to donate $10 or more. Every dollar works immediately to keep service projects across our state equipped to serve.