I’m going to give you some common (and not so common) ideas about where to find scrap metal for welding projects.
When going to these places, make sure to always be honest with the owner. Let them know that you’re looking for scrap metal so you can work on your next welding project, (this will get you a lot farther when collecting scrap metal than anything else you can say).
A lot of these places are very common, especially in the city, and there are multiple different types of businesses for each one. With a little dedication and determination, you can find a couple of resources here that can be a consistent supply of scrap metal for years to come.
Here’s my list of the best places to get scrap metal for welding:
- Local Businesses
- Craigslist or OfferUp
- Assisted Living Centers, Hospitals, and Medical Clinics
- Shooting Ranges
- Antique or Junk Stores
- Construction and Renovation Sites
- Farms and Ranches
- Industrial Areas
Before I go into the juicy details about how to collect scrap metal, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Some basic items that you want to keep an eye out for are going to be appliances, tables/chairs (office furniture), racks, TV/computers, metal cages, workout equipment, bed frames, any nuts and bolts, and of course auto parts. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, so keep your mind and eyes open when you’re out there collecting.
1.) Local Businesses
The best local businesses to start talking to are going to be your local small engine or auto repair shops (don’t go to the well-known corporations), try the self-employed business owners that will probably be all too happy to talk with you. This can be a gold mine when it comes to collecting scrap metal.
Build some rapport with them first. Find out how long they’ve been in business, and why they started their business. Find out if they currently have anyone removing their junk for them, and if they’re paying for it or not.
What I like to say is, I’m not sure if you’d be open to this or not, but if I could find a way to save you money and time on removing unwanted junk from your business, is that something you’d be open to?
2.) Craigslist or OfferUp
These two sites will be guaranteed to get you some scrap metal. The only thing you have to do is constantly be posting. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Make sure that you are consistent with telling people what you’re looking for on your posts. Appliances, auto parts, metal pet cages, or anything else you can think of will do wonders.
With OfferUp, you can always let people know that you can take away their junk for free, or just mention that you’re looking to buy really cheap bed frames, appliances, or whatever else you can think of. The other great thing is that you can always try to bargain the price down lower.
3.) Assisted Living Centers, Hospitals, and Medical Clinics
This one can be a little trickier to get ahold of the right person. But rest assured, if you’re able to build a relationship with the administrator while scheduling a meet-up and explain to them that you have a free scrap removal service, they should be all too happy to let you haul off any old wheelchairs, appliances, or beds (bed frames make for great scrap metal too).
If you can schedule a meeting with the administrator, make sure to find out what their current procedures are for getting rid of junk is. Find out if it costs them any money to get rid of their junk and make sure you seem more interested in helping them out than you do in collecting junk from them. If you can show them the value that you can bring to their business, they will be far more likely to want to do business with you.
4.) Shooting Ranges
There are tons of used steel or brass shells to be collected here. You’ll find a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors you can braze, solder, or tack on to any welding project to add visual interest.
Make sure that you contact your local shooting ranges (public or private) as early as possible before heading over there. Ask them if they want/need someone to haul off all their discharged shells for free and contact as many shooting ranges close by as possible.
5.) Antique Shops or Flea Markets
These places are a little harder to find free scrap metal, but there’s cheap scrap metal laying around just as much. You can find random pieces of scrap metal that won’t cost much out of your pocket, sometimes you just have to keep looking around until you see a good deal.
Look for old silverware and cooking utensils to use in cutlery welding projects.
6.) Construction and Renovation Sites
Here’s where you’re going to want to be careful. Make sure you don’t just go onto any construction site and start taking as many pieces of scrap metal as you find. Talk to the person in charge and get written permission to haul off any debris that they have lying around. Usually, they’ll have contracts that get finished around a certain time and only need things to be picked up specifically when they are finished with the project.
Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty when looking for scrap metal. Sometimes you can find some really valuable pieces of scrap when searching through dumpsters. I don’t mean jumping shoulder-deep into the dumpster and sorting through every piece of garbage there is, but sometimes taking a look at what’s sticking out of the dumpster and even moving a few bags from the top of the trash to the side can reveal a nice hidden gem you didn’t see before.
8.) Farms and Ranches
If you’re in a rural area, a lot of times you can find old beat-up abandoned cars that have been there for years. You might want to check with the local law enforcement first to make sure that the car isn’t registered to anyone. You can also check any of the dumpsters near some farmer’s businesses to see if they’ve gotten rid of anything that you can use.
Look for used horseshoes for your welding projects. Simple to weld and durable, if you can imagine something, chances are that you can make it out of horseshoes.
This might be one of the best places to get scrap metal. Contact your local electricians, plumbers, roofers, HVAC repair technicians, or siding contractors and let them know about your free junk removal services.
Another great tip that not a lot of people know about is to join some Facebook groups and start contacting different contractors there. There are lots of groups that you can find, with even more contractors than there are groups.
Related: Can You Weld Black Iron Pipe?
Start posting in the groups first before adding a bunch of strangers to your friend’s list. Try to find something informative that you can post that will bring them value, and comment on any post you see them posting about. The more familiar they get with seeing your face, the more open they’ll be to having a conversation with you.
Try to keep the conversation as natural as possible. Find out more about them first and see if they need your service. If you want you can even create a Facebook page or fan page as a junk removal service, that way you look more legitimate when talking to people about your business.
10.) Industrial Areas
If you can find a manufacturing facility or warehouse, a lot of times they will have scrap metal just laying around behind their building. Sometimes they will put broken machinery that you can ask to pick up for free for them. A lot of times they will be absolutely thrilled to let you take it away for them, just remember to mention that your service is free for them and at the time they specify.
I hope this gives you a little insight on where to find scrap metal for welding projects. There is literally an abundance of scrap metal laying around, and it doesn’t take too much work to get your hands on it (yes it will take work, and the more you want, the more you have to work). These 10 ideas are easy to do and will get you just the right amount of scrap metal you need to start your next welding project.
Sometimes it will take you multiple tries to get ahold of someone and sometimes you have to do more than just ask them to haul off their junk for free. The more you can get to know the person who has the final say in letting you take their junk, the better. People will do business with other people that they like, know, and trust.
It’s always recommended to establish some rapport with whoever’s in charge, but sometimes you can get lucky, and people will be willing to give you all the junk they have for free (more likely on Craigslist and OfferUp). Make sure not to give up and keep talking to as many people as you can and searching as many places that you can think of. If you don’t give up, you’re bound to get results!