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Virtual Open Hours - Live Now

Join us for Virtual Open Hours every Wednesday from 5 – 7 pm! Our Staff, Board Members, and Volunteers will be available to answer any membership questions and help you find tools or make a reservation. You do not need to be present for these sessions to reserve tools, however, we do recommend new members introduce themselves.

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

In the words of Leah Penniman, Co-Director and Farm Manager of Soul Fire Farm: “Deciding to grow some of your own nutritious food is a statement to yourself that,“Yes, I matter and I am worth it.” 


Building a raised bed is a fun, beginner friendly project that will help you learn how to use power tools, if you are not already familiar. Tutorials for how to use each tool are linked in the tool list. A raised bed also allows you to grow nutritious food for yourself and your loved ones. Further, growing your own food can be a source of joy, healing, and relaxation. 

This raised bed costs about $25 dollars to build and will last around two years. For a more expensive, but sturdier garden bed, check out Soul Fire Farm’s video and guide. 




  • (5) 2’’x 4’’ pine boards, 8-feet long
  • (20) 2.5-inch Exterior wood screws (star head screws are less prone to stripping)




Curbside Service Hours Staffing

During TTL’s operating hours volunteers are responsible for checking tools in and out, signing up new members, putting away tools, and explaining the Library’s mission and procedures to the public.

Tool Repair and Maintenance

Tasks include assessing the condition and safety of donated hand and power tools, as well as basic tool repair, cleaning, and maintenance.

Event Staffing

You’ll promote our organization, mission, and services at local events such as farmers’ markets and maker fairs, . Duties vary, but include speaking with the public about TTL, setting up and breaking down a table and display, signing up new members, handling cash and card payments, and teaching/moderating small activities or workshops.

Workshop Leader

A major part of TTL’s mission is providing not only tools, but the training to use them safely and effectively. If you have a skill you’d like to share, please let us know, and we’d love to make arrangements with you to teach!

Committee Member

Serving on a committee provides members with leadership training, networking opportunities, and experience in working on a variety of non-profit administrative tasks. Committees typically meet monthly, and require some work outside of those meetings.


Have an idea about how you could help out? Just let us know!

How-To Videos

If you’re unfamiliar with how to use any of the tools for this project, check out the following videos!

Project Instructions

1. Gather your materials from the hardware store of your choice and the Tacoma Tool Library. Resources for accessing affordable or free soil, seeds and plant starts are included below.

2. Measure, mark, and cut eight lengths of 4-feet from four of the 2’’ x 4’’ boards. If you are using a circular saw, clamp the wood securely to a steady surface before you make any cuts. You should end up with eight 4-foot-long boards, as pictured below.

3. Measure, mark, and cut four lengths of 7 inches from the remaining board. You should end up with four 7-inch-long boards, pictured below.

4. Line up two pairs of 4-foot boards. Place one 7-inch board on both ends of each of these pairs.

5. Screw two screws through each 7-inch board and the 4-foot board below it.

6. Assemble your raised bed! Arrange boards in a square, with boards with blocks opposite each other. Boards should be arranged so that the block is inside. 

7. Drill together each corner, with two screws in each 2’’x4’’ board. You can drill into the short wooden block or the end of the board. Just make sure you’re not drilling where there are already screws.

Additional Resources

Where can I learn more about the next steps in growing my own food? 

Soul Fire in the City – Growing Guide

2021 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color led – How To Videos, Gardening Projects, Educational Resources 

Hilltop Urban Gardens

Events | Pierce Conservation District, WA

Edible Gardens Workshop Series | Pierce Conservation District, WA  

Is the soil safe?

Check your soil for contamination using this map, or sample your own soil and have it sent to a lab if the area you live in has not already been sampled. If your soil is moderately contaminated, it will be extra important to create barriers between the raised bed and the soil below it. Additional instructions can be found here.

Where can I find soil?

Since raised beds are large, buying bags of soil can get expensive. If you have access to a truck, or large containers/buckets you can put in your car, you can load TAGRO soil mix into your car yourself for free. 

Otherwise, you can pick TAGRO up in a truck, have it delivered, or buy soil from a nursery or hardware store.

Where can I find plant starts and seeds? 

You can get free seeds at the Seed Library located at the Tacoma Tool Library and the Farm at Franklin Pierce Schools.

If you receive SNAP benefits, you can use them to purchase seeds at the grocery store. 

You can also learn to save your own seeds and eventually give back to the seed library. 

You can find free plant starts at the annual Plant Start Giveaway


How should I plan my garden? 

This Planting Calendar provides dates for when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant, and when to direct seed plants. 


What if I don’t have space for a raised bed? 

If you don’t have space for a raised bed but you have a sunny front stoop, windowsill, or fire escape, you can still grow fresh food with container gardening. In this video, Leah Penniman shares the basics of container gardening. 


Written by Kai Bahls