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I Forge Iron

When do you stop bringing things home, and just walk away?

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The plan was to gain some space back by taking unused stuff to the junk yard for cash. Drove to the junk yard, unloaded my stuff, found and loaded up a whole bunch of better stuff, and had to pay the junk yard office in order to leave. Went out heavier than what I weighed when I came in. 

You can find "the good stuff" by just keeping your eyes open. The materials are out there, in the alleys, dumpsters, behind buildings, everywhere. All you have to do is ask, and then load up the truck and bring it home. So how do you qualify the material you find? As good, better, and oh yea, THAT is coming home with me right now? 

When (and how) do you stop bringing things home, that is, just walk away and leave the good stuff, the better stuff, and the oh yea stuff alone, and behind?

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I have only read the title of this thread, and I nearly died laughing. My spouse is looking at me like I have two heads.

Glenn, before I read your post I have to ask, are you kidding?

I deployed the TPAAAT for acquiring propane tanks. I plan on soon gathering them up for a family reunion pic.

Many of these remain copiously endowed with propane, and thus, my next forge will most likely be a gasser.

Maybe it's a mental illness, but farming and making do runs on both sides of the family.

Now I will read your post, Glenn.

Robert Taylor


OK, I read, I see, I get it. You are no better off than I am.

I find it somehow soothing, and at the same time, enabling.

Thanks Glenn!:rolleyes:


1 hour ago, Glenn said:

in the alleys, dumpsters, behind buildings, everywhere.

Sheila reminds me, "that's what we call the scenic route!"

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I was recently made redundant, the company I worked for sold up to developers who wanted to take vacant possession of the property so we had to clear the whole site. This company had been at its current premises for 250 years so therefore you can imagine there was a LOT of stuff. We had a fabricating shop, a carpentry shop and a foundry but I brought home next to no mild steel. I can get steel easily and cheaply, I grabbed the things that would have been difficult or expensive to source elsewhere. I did get some steel to fabricate a stand for my post vice however.

What I did grab was timber, Walnut, Wenge, Brazilian rosewood, Afzelia, Ash, Cherry, Yew and some 9"x3" x15' pine to build a workbench from. I picked up a 5" angle grinder with over 150 sanding discs, a power file with 80 ceramic belts and sheets of glasspaper. A Dewalt drill and router with very little use and countless hand tools, files, saws, chisels, handplanes etc.

In the end we just had to get the building clear and it was tragic what was thrown away, wrought iron, hundreds of feet of mild steel stock in various sections, angle, box etc. Solid walnut furniture that was over a hundred years old, countless tools, grinders, even a lathe and perfectly good compressor went to the scrap yard.

Sometimes the line is drawn for you and you have to be pragmatic, take what you need, what you can use and just let the rest go.

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I can sympathise with Foundryman. We, too, had to get rid of a LOT of stuff to make room for new developments - not quite his 250 years worth, but a lot all the same. I took home what I could but you have to draw the line somewhere. Some things were just too heavy and I don't own a crane at home. I saved all the mild steel useful pieces or interesting shapes, but let a lot of the wrought iron go to scrap. I saved a heap of long wrought inch diameter bolts and a few long bars that might make good table legs or something. I find it welds nicely and brushes to a nice texture, but it is NOT my best friend in the forge. Not unless you're making toothbrushes.

So, yes, sometimes you have to walk away for practical reasons, even though your heart bleeds.

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7 hours ago, Glenn said:

When (and how) do you stop bringing things home

I'm afraid in my case "When my day is done" and I'm on my final trip to wherever.  Even then I may try to get the driver to stop if something of interest happens to be beside the road "FOR FREE". 

I'm now at a stage in life where I'm re-gifting items to people who can use it.  recently I was trying to get rid of a piece of old farm equip I didn't need again and a young fellow contacted me came to look at it and said it looked like one he remembered his grandfather having a while ago.  I knew that already as it had come from his grandfather when I met him so I gave it to him loaded it into his truck and sent it home with him, that was a good day. 

Way too much stuff out there needing a good home to stop looking now. 

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Tell the scraper's to put that wrought off two the side its sell able & not made anymore !  $$ a lot of folks looking for it out there !

as to the scrap thing -- when you Can't fit anymore in the back field or when you're 6'under ?? I think LOL :huh:

also I have yet to find a group that has the same mental problem that meets locally LOL :D  

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10 hours ago, JHCC said:

I may be in Vermont this summer with my van,

What I have Id'd at the moment to move along is tractor equipment, counter weight, post hole digger.  Blacksmith items take less room so not as much in the way and hoping my son will take some of it?  any idea when you might be around? 

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I walk away all the time.  It took some time to learn, and it still hurts a bit, but I found that I was accumulating more than I was using, and I wasn't using anything that was really hard to come across.  How many coil springs do I realistically need?  It's not like there won't be another dozen when I go to the salvage yard, so why stockpile some at the shop?  Now, it if was a truly big spring, like you might find from a locomotive, that would be a rare thing and worth collecting.  

Right now, I'm in the hunt for an old fly press.  Industrial salvage is impossible to find around here, so it'll be awhile before I find a press for the shop, but it's a fun search.  If I find some big I-beams or the like, I just might go ahead and build a hydraulic press.  

But, yea, for the most part, I don't stockpile anything more than I have to.  I dream about being able to stockpile and would love to have an acre or three dedicated to rusty iron goodness.  The reality is that what I want most is scarce as hen's teeth, so I let someone else do the stockpiling and then I pay them to get a piece here and there.

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Hello! My name is Gergely and I'm an iron hoarder... :) 

I try to restrain myself continously - with more or less luck. But there are things I just can't resist or I still think it's a good opportunity. Unfortunately there are plenty of those.


2 hours ago, BIGGUNDOCTOR said:

Well for me it came when the county trashed about $15,000 of items I had stored on my property...... 

BigGun, your story pops up in my mind timi to time, and it always makes me sad. I'm really sorry for your loss.




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13 hours ago, JHCC said:

If it happens, first week of August. I'll keep you posted. 

We should be around?  Leaving for the West mid Aug for a spell and a few days to CT coast the week before that.   

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I don't/didn't have a big shop. Recent divorce is causing me to liquidate what I can and keep only what Is difficult or expensive to replace. I've already done the scrap yard run. Since I'd already done one the year before, There wasn't much to go this time. But in the next month or so, the forges, and my primary "Anvil" (read as large flat heavy piece of hard metal with useful shapes), the coal, and all the useful "hardenable" steel I've collected over the years are going to a friend of mine that wants to get into knife making. 

My post vice, and my post anvil. the few tongs I have, and my hammers will be all I get to keep for the next shop I build. which will hopefully be sooner rather than later. 

I say all this because it really gives some clarity of what is a must, and what is a luxury. Some times life tells you what you can take, and what you can't. 

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I figure Deb'll put my ashes in a piece of scrounged steel and I'll stop. Maybe. B)

I don't bring much home anymore, it's got to be pretty juicy or I'll let the next guy get it. I still love hitting the sales, look for smooth faced hammers, ball peins especially, and the occasional good tool. Mostly I get to meet new folks, pet their dogs and see strange neighborhoods.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I am constantly buying tools at the pawn shop or Gumtree. In fact each project seems to be an excuse to buy a tool for it. Don't get much chance at the scrapyard because they stopped all the scavenging activities for fear o the ubiquitous lawsuit. I think the most tragic purchase was a professional petrol Honda driven brick saw to build a pizza oven ... :)

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I have basic criteria I follow:

Is it a common item like coil springs or leaf springs where I only need a few at the shop as they are easily and cheaply sourced?

Is it a size/shape/item that I forge items that I sell a lot of in general and so having stock on hand to make more is *good*?

Is it something that my students use a lot of?

Is it something that I might use and at a give away price?

Is it useful sized stock at much better than new stock price? (Like 200 22" pieces of 1/2" sq stock for under scrap rate!)

If it's free; do I know someone who could use it that I could pass it on to?

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Well now, after re-reading all of the posts in this thread, and reflecting upon my place in the scheme of things, I wonder about my rodent-like affinity for the shiny rusty stuff, and:

Thinking - If I were someone else reading Robert's post, would I tend to view this as a psychological disorder?

Am I abnormal, because when my brother's mini chest freezer died with ten pounds of meat in it, while he was away for two weeks, I HAD to have the compressor, controls, and tubing out of it?

In my defense, all other parts of the freezer no longer reside on my property.

I have a third of a rural acre. Prior to this thread, I had hit an estate sale for four consecutive mornings before work, and then all day on a Sunday on the last day of the sale - 50% off!

It's not Junk, it's INVENTORY!!

However, I was thinking, as I stood out on the side of the road, looking up into my yard, that last trip is pushing me toward an abatement issue.

At my back, across the road, is a FREE 57 gallon electric water heater, with brass fittings, and a steel tank!

I went across the road and inspected it, touched, caressed it, and patted it and sighed.

I left it there.

Four days later, it is there, like a "Siren, Sweetly Singing" (Homer, Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp), it sings out my name. Just a two-minute jaunt across the road with a handtruck ! :wacko: Heavy Breathing now.

I am indeed well balanced, and not a rodent!

The tank is still there.

Robert Taylor

P.S.: just looked again, thank goodness someone took it away :( er, ahh, :D

Edited by Anachronist58
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