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Glenn

How do you develop a useful scrap pile ?

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Most of you folks have a "resource center" or scrap pile that you draw all kinds of useful items from to use.  How did you develop such a useful item?  How do you know what is good scrap to add to the pile and what is just junk that will never be used?  How long did it take to get the pile to the point it became useful?

 

 

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Well my pile grows each time I visit the scrapyard, or stop and pick up stuff on the side of the road; or accept scrap from neighbors. (Always accept scrap from neighbors, even if all you do is to take it directly to the scrap yard---you want to get them in the habit....)

Scrap I buy at the scrapyard is often based on stuff I commonly make or am thinking of making---so tongs: keep my eye open for sucker rod. Sq stock of almost any size, (1/8" to 2"), is useful.  

Tools that can be reused or reforged---the stake anvils made from odd sledge hammer heads for instance and with 1.5" shafts.

Items to go into billets: bandsaw blades, timing chains, hand saw blades, etc

Items to work on the smithy with: eyebolts from utility poles.

My latest visits have included 1.5 hp 1725 TEFC motors.

Basic rules: Never expect something to be there the next time. It may or it may have a crushed dump truck piled on top of it.

Never argue price. Cheerfully pay it or cheerfully toss the item back on the pile. (Again: trains them in what price you will pay.)

Always check in with the yard staff; I like to wear my red smithing hat too. Never expect them to watch out for you as they run large machinery with risky loads on it---they head your way FLEE!!!!

Bring leather gloves.  Bring basic tools; my yard lets me disassemble stuff---saves a lot on money!

Keep your eyes open---I've found a mint condition stake plate and a bracelet mandrel there before and a couple of weekends ago the body of a post vise.  Also 99# cast iron dock weights and lots of scrapped Oxy welding tanks.

Now there are a few things I don't stack to high at home: leaf springs and coil springs.  They are pretty much always available so I only need a couple...

If I find stuff that shouldn't be there I will bring it to their attention; also folks seem to always be dumping copper alloy stuff in the steel pile---it sells for a lot more so they are idiots; but if I see faucets, fittings and stuff I'll toss it on the correct pile. If I find tools and I want them I always ask if they intended to sell them.  Staying on their good side and being allowed to wander the site is worth a heck of a lot more than just sneaking something out!  (I mean "We're going down the road for breakfast; just call us when you want to weigh out..." has happened fairly often.)

I keep my eye out for cleaning the garage type stuff, or even cleaning out the place after a death.  I find a lot of nuts and bolts in like new condition and much cheaper than going into town! (I also picked up a craftsman drill and sabre saw probably 20 years old, may outlast me too) One time I took out 100# of sockets and wrenches and auger bits when a commercial shop cleared out a space.

Finally BE SAFE there may be Physical Dangers, Chemical Dangers, Radiological Dangers, XYZ Dangers!  It's YOUR responsibility to protect yourself.  Don't make the owners regret letting you inside!

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Like Thomas, I pass up a lot of stuff but in rust we trust is a mantra for me. I usually look for plate, bars both square & round. Automotive stuff like coil springs, leaf springs (unless the resource pile has reached the saturation point), torsion bars, tie rods & drag links, drive shafts that sort of stuff and of course anything that says to me I can use that.:)

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As I get older I find I like to start with stock that is already along the road to what I want to do with it.  (Like using a leafspring with a good distal taper on it as stock for a large blade.)   I also have found a lot of smithing shortcuts  when you have a piece the right shape to hammer metal against to get a shape you want: so a big lifting eye and a dome topped trailer hitch that will fit in my screwpress' tool holder, (and made some amazing mammiform shield bosses for Y1K reenactment.

So I am on the look out for random pieces of metal with "interesting" shapes. I was using a Ski Jump tool last Sunday to curve the spring for a postvise I was working on. (An isosceles triangle of 1" thick steel  with a hardy stem on the long side edge). Heat your strap and bridge it from the peak of the ski jump to the anvil face and tap over the open area to bend it to the curve you want. Isosceles so you have 2 different "slopes" to use.  With practice you can do very nice complete circles.

I forgot to mention that most of my tool racks are made from stuff I picked up at the scrap yard: round base with pipe welded to the center + more pipe + steel wheelbarrow wheel = tong rack or the simple one: Basketball hoop = tong rack.  Metal frame with 1-1.5" hardware cloth on it: tool rack. Improvised hardy holes:

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And I found pics of a couple of trip's haul:

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and a few augers on another trip

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Oh yeah, the oak for the anvil stands left and right was free from my local scrapyard; all the other stuff was US 20 cents a pound. Save for the Baldor and Dayton 1.5 hp TEFC motors; they were expensive and cost me US$10 a piece....

Guess where I'm going on Saturday Morning?

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Being a mechanic by trade i have quite the scrap pile in the shop i work in to pick through. Sway bars, coil, leaf springs, axles, input and output shafts, sway bars, sway bar links, etc. are all free for the taking for me. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of nuts and bolts. That is where most of my treasure trove has come from. I have also got the guys i work with now asking if i can use "this".

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I was born and bred a pack rat. My maternal Grandmother born in 1890 Ohio never threw anything out, every piece of string was on a ball under the sink, every scrap of wrapping paper was folded and packed in a box, every box was collapsed, folded and bound with twine. cloth, etc. etc. Mother and Dad were depression age kids and never threw anything out till the day they died. 

I find myself wanting to go through the trash before heading out on a dump run and refuse to look while at the dump though I HAVE come home with some choice items. Not bringing more steel home is the problem but I'm getting better. I have plenty of spring, coil and leaf, I'm good for the rest of my life and can supply some of the new guys from my stash.  I don't know how much "stock" I have but I rarely have to look elsewhere.

Wrought iron is an exception, I don't see much around here so I grab what I can, for the most part though I keep my eyes out for something other than that useful piece of steel in the ditch, or where ever. I have enough and more. As much as it hurts to try and fool myself that way. I don't need anymore, honest I don't. I can stop collecting useful steel anytime I want. I Can, i just don't want to just now. 

Ooh, what's THAT?

Frosty The Lucky.

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I don't know why but blacksmith road kill has gotten pretty scarce around here. We used to find all sorts of it a while back one of the best was a big truck/trailer mud flap with the steel still attached and a large coil spring that must have been from a wreck, that the wrecker driver missed when they cleaned up the scene. Another reason is TRG Metal Recycling closed their local yard and the haulers don't drop gems when moving the large loads.

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No "blacksmith road kill" around my area.  I find stuff to bring home all the time, but it's never that kind of treasure.

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METAL DETECTOR.

Need I say more?

There are old homesteads everywhere. I used to hate digging old chains because they sound so good when you find them. Not any more. A lot of those are wrought. Lots of good metal at old homesteads.

In a hour I can dig more iron and steel than I can carry.

Then you get the occasional coin or other bauble to keep things interesting.

Old logging railroad spurs from the turn of the century. 20th century that is. 5 gallon bucket of 100+ year old rr spikes in a half mile. There's two within a half mile of my house.

I have no idea how many old axe heads I have dug in the last 15 years.

Sometimes you just have to work for it a little.

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I just used to collect anything and everything for years. I had torn apart at least nine vw beetle when I lived in texas- for parts. At one point in time, I could have built one just from parts.

Then, while in the army- I'd grab junked parts and scraps here in there from the motorpool.

When I moved, I gave away alot of pieces and parts. Now, I'm starting over.

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I find it hard to pass up any metal whatsoever. I have several tons right now in various locations at my house. It's like treasure to me. When I need to build something I am always looking to use the least desirable stuff in my collection first, I almost hate to use a "nice" piece of steel for the project at hand in case a better use for it might come up in the future. It's even hard for me to toss small scraps that might be useful someday. I got a lot of my collection from the scrap yard where I recycle my copper wire. Also on the construction sites, any scrap or stuff home owners don't want goes straight into my truck. Add to that any leftovers from new steel that I buy for certain projects and I have quite a pile. Yet it seems a lot of the time I don't have just what I need, or enough of one thing to make something. Then it's off to the steel yard.

Just today I cut up 8 feet of 4X4X1/4" angle from an old window lentil I have had for years, it will now become the corners for some large wooden box planters.

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On 4/2/2020 at 1:30 PM, Glenn said:

How do you know what is good scrap to add to the pile and what is just junk that will never be used? 

Keep one eye peeled for potential usable scrap and one eye open for utter junk (yes....there is such a thing) that has to go.  Try to use the same eye for the same thing or you will get headaches and may walk crooked.  Keep the scrap under contol and call for an intervention if necessary.  I had to sell the farm and learned an important lesson.  Its easier to accumulate over years than de-junk in a mad rush 8-).  

  I have not visited the site in a long time due to odd circumstances but looked in and realized how much I missed it.  

Scott

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When I had to move 1500 miles from Ohio to New Mexico, USA, I had a 15 year collection of metal that couldn't go, (I did ship a ton of wrought iron plate...a large fork lift tine and a few other *musts*!)

So I called all my smithing friends over one Saturday and we went through it all loading everybody up, (memo to self: NEVER accept food or drink from those friends' significant others!!!) One had a small landscaping business and brought over a small dump truck---that was great!  I would take a piece of metal, ask him if he wanted it---if he said yes I would toss it in the dump truck; if he said no I would wait till his back was turned and toss it in the dump truck...

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Wow, a 15 year collection of metal?  That would be fun to tap into.  I don't even have enough metal here to build a hammer and tong stand............had to go buy it from Metal Supermarket.  Was way too expensive, :o but I wanted to build something with my new welder and didn't want to wait.  Won't do that again! :D

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24 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

if he said no I would wait till his back was turned and toss it in the dump truck...

Of course some folks can't distinguish trash from treasure.:lol:

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That's the category my little wife would be in, IFC. :D  But I love her anyway. :wub:

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My wife is the exact opposite, when we are out looking, I will pass something up and hear ohh I want that. I just say yes mam & pick it up, she has found some really useful stuff, I have to admit. One time she was at a farm auction and brought home a very large dynamite cabinet/magazine which she paid &5 for. I was grumbling while unloading it from the truck saying I don't know what we would do with it. She pointed out it's made of 1/4 inch steel plate 3x8 feet and all the hardware is usable steel.:o and we need a plasma cutter, to make it easier to take it all apart, any wonder why I lover her so much.:)

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I did ship a ton of wrought iron plate

Thanks, that reminds me. Someone was supposed to be sending me a flat rate box of wrought iron from a bridge demo. It should have been here a while ago. I'm going to have to check into it. 

Pnut

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While she doesn't encourage my resource gathering Deb doesn't object too much and has in fact pointed out things I might like but missed. I seeded the garden years ago while yard saling. While walking up the driveway Deb spots a bunch of various bags of wool (Rovings) (I THINK they're called Rovings) on the table, both being spinners she and the gal holding the sale hit it right off. So while they're talking I did my usual routine and made a broad scan, good stuff tends to jump to your attention. Anyway, Deb ad the nice gal are talking fiber: sheep, qiviut, alpaca, fuzzy dog, etc. etc. while I'm scanning. Sitting in a literal pile of garbage bags of processed and unprocessed wool is a Lendrum spinning wheel. :o

Deb kept shushing me till I excused myself to the nice lady and physically turned an increasingly angry Deb around and pointed at the wheel. She focused on it after a second, started sputtering and making her way towards it. I turned to the nice lady with the huge grin and asked THE question. . . $50. I GASPED they were typically running in the $300-$400 range used at the time. I said Done and whipped out my wallet without asking Deb, then in headed to help. She was having trouble making it through all the bags of wool, some demanded she take a closer look. I slipped past without her really noticing, picked the wheel up gently and carried it out to the table The nice lady shook her head and pointed at our VUE, "put it over there.". . . "Yes Maam!"

I get back and Deb's searching frantically, she can't find the wheel!:o To get scale of the thing, the bags of wool almost completely blocked the door on a 2 car garage maybe 6-8 bags out, 2 deep in places. Come on Sweety, we have to go now and I almost drag her out to the table where she'd picked a dozen rovings. Deb sadly started to get her wallet out of her purse and the Nice lady says, "It's been taken care of, thank you." Deb smiles and turns towards the Saturn Vue and there is the wheel! SQUEEEEE! Happy wife makes a dash and starts examining it closely. I'd looked it over and it's in excellent condition, even the drive band. Shortly we load load the wheel and start to get in the Vue. 

Nice lady yells at us, "HEY, YOU GOTTA TAKE IT ALL OR NOTHING!!  HUH? I gulp.

Even pressing the air out of the bags it took 4 trips to get it all home.  The nice lady was serious about getting out of it. Deb sold rovings cheap and paid for the wheel many times over and there are still a couple dozen vacuum cleaner compressed in the basement. 

End of Frosty reminiscences. Made a BUNCH of points and Deb has pointed out a number of good deals since and doesn't complain unless I drag something too unsightly home. 

Man was that a score for both of us. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Wow. Awesome story.

My own Steel Wool Couple strategy involves supporting Lisa in any yarn purchases she wishes to make, visiting yarn shops on her behalf when I'm on the road for work (usually with FaceTime on the iPhone so she can see the store layout and the various goods), and making sure that a part of the minimal income that smithing brings in goes towards yarn. So far, so good.

(I also keep a brochure for the Anyang 33 stuck to the fridge, so that she can see that a couple hundred bucks for a new motor on The Pressciousss is a much more affordable option.)

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On 4/6/2020 at 1:23 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I did ship a ton of wrought iron plate...a large fork lift tine and a few other *musts*!)

  There are those who do not understand why I could not part with a 4' chain sprocket.

 

  I 

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There sure are some strange people out in this world!  Do you know what it went to?  We sometimes see some odd stuff out here from *old* farm equipment.  (The dockweights and large mooring cleat were beyond odd and definitely into the weird and outre' in this desert!)

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This thread is timely since the stay at home orders I have been spending a lot of time in the shop. I started going through all my steel last week and getting it organized, I found a lot of things I didn't know I had. This weekend I am building a rack similar to the ones at the hardware store to put all the lengths of material under 36" into, those are the ones that get lost too easily behind the big stuff. This is all my bar, rod, angle, tubing, pipe & rebar, 20 footers outside under the porch, anything 12 feet or less is inside. Then there's another 2 walls of sheet & plate inside and some large structural pieces behind the garage, and an old locker full of interesting doo dads

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 I have a bunch of different round and square pieces of plate stashed behind benches and shelves too. There's so much I can't always remember what I have or where it is. The only way I can explain it is I am a metal junkie, can't turn it down, can't part with it. And I stash it all over.

I might need professional help

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Posted (edited)

Bigb, when you cant see the floor or the walls through the flotsam and debris you need help.  You are on your way though.

10 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

There sure are some strange people out in this world!  Do you know what it went to?  We sometimes see some odd stuff out here from *old* farm equipment.  (The dockweights and large mooring cleat were beyond odd and definitely into the weird and outre' in this desert!)

   Strange indeed.  The cog was on the end of a large screw conveyor.  I had an old pull type roadgrader that I looked at out of the corner of my eye every time I passed by it.  A treasure trove for a scrap artist.  I never could cannablize it. 

  Your cleat and weights, as well as how they got there are intriguing, I have a theory but its not complete.  

 

Edited by Nodebt
Fix bad english

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Shorts rack: I cheated

shorts_rack.jpg.1a1e95dc5054fc67c05550e779b01eb6.jpg

I just bought one at the scrapyard for US 20 cents a pound.

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