Where do you get practice scrap cheap?

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I guess the title says it all...
I'm definitely a beginner, and willing and eager to be cutting all sorts of chunks of metal, but metal is expensive (which cuts down on practice time)! Where do you all find scrap to practice on? Or, do you practice on other materials that I've not thought about? It doesn't even have to be big chunks of metal to practice simple tasks, but my brain is kinda exhausted of ideas about where to look.

I've got some metal for projects, but I'm a little hesitant to start cutting on it for fear of messing it up, and I haven't generated enough scrap of my own yet!

Part of my problem is living in an area without a whole lot of industrial fabrication in the economy, and maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places, but any ideas are appreciated.


Hello Mauser,

I get most of my metal from the local scrap yard !

But it does help if you have some idea about what it is you want to do.
"local scrap yard"? I'm not sure what you are quite referring to, or what you would call it here... Unless you are talking about where old cars go to rust in place? Er... rest in piece?
Yeah, I guess that has always been my question too. We have a number of scrap yards that have old cars in them,
but I guess I've always thought that if it wasn't a car, they wouldn't take it. Maybe I need to stop by and see if they
have other stuff.
Check out buymetal.com for low cost aluminum. They charge $15 flat rate shipping and you can get a ton to practice on for under $100. Most of it will probably end up becoming real parts as time goes on. This isn't a cheap hobby unfortunately, but that should get you started. I got a 4x4x18" piece of aluminum + 1.5"x5"x10" piece shipped to my door for something like $110. That's nearly 50lbs of aluminum.
Scrapyard, metal recycler their one and the same. I am a heavy equipment mechanic my eyes are like:oops: wide open when I'm at places. I keep everything usable. Try going to your local industrial park and see if there's any machining company or such and ask for scrap or cut offs. You might have to buy some lunches but I ran across a place near me that builds food processing equipment. I have TONS of stainless from them. They let me scrounge the dumpster which I occasionally get cutters,bandsaw blades,etc. The company has production standards they throw out a blade if one tooth is ripped off. Well I have to cut and weld the blades to fit my bandsaw so it works out perfect.
I live in a great area for industry still so my machining life has had a lot of great resources. Other areas probably not so good. I can count on one hand how many times I've had to buy metal in 15years.
Yeah, I guess that has always been my question too. We have a number of scrap yards that have old cars in them,
but I guess I've always thought that if it wasn't a car, they wouldn't take it. Maybe I need to stop by and see if they
have other stuff.
In Chicago and surrounding areas you see ALOT of scrap people. They drive around on garbage night and grab ANYTHING METAL. Throw out a hot water heater it would be gone in 10 mins guaranteed. They even take beds and rip the springs out of it. Yikes. Scrapping is a profitable game if informed. EVERYTHING gets recycled these days which is good. Every year I store bad batteries from replacing at work and go sell them for 8-12 bucks a battery. At average of 100 batteries you do the math.
Scrap Yard, metal recycle places, is the cheapest option but not all of them can be bothered to sell you small pieces of metal, i've had good luck there, it's cheap enough even if you throw away 80% of the piece you still be ahead then buying new material. I've bought an entire running and driving car just because someone fill the trunk of it with short pieces of round stock, perfect for machining in a lathe, i couldn't care less for the car, just emptied the trunk home and call another scrap yard to pick the car up and was 50$ up in the deal, so try to be quick with your questions and respective when dealing with them, they can be a very very difficult to deal with.
If you are a beginner, found scrap may suffice. As soon as I started making money (in blacksmithing), I had to stop messing around and only use new steel.
If you a Lowes or Home depot they sell round bar. I used some 3/4" to make a part already and it isn't too expensive.
Luckily I know a guy that owns a recycling yard, one of the biggest around here. I can get steel for free, only problem is there is limited to pick from but if i keep checking i will find what I need. Brass and aluminum he sells to me for very cheap. But same thing, you gotta get there when the stuff you want or need is there.. wait to long and its sent out and you gotta wait til more comes in.
Usually recyclers are the cheapest places to buy.
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Tear down discarded printers. They have soft stainless steel rods in them that cut like butter and are great to practice on, and the price is right. These rods are accurately ground, too, so they work great for many projects. The bigger the printer, the bigger the rods.

Aluminum is great to practice on but it cuts best with a tool intended for aluminum.

If I could pick only one material for a new guy to learn with it would be 12L14. You can buy 12L14 on ebay in 12" lengths for very good prices. Some sellers ship flat rate priority for free and you can buy as many as will fit in a box.
Seems like I always have stock lying around . We scrap metal regularly at work and I'm able to grab what I want , but I really don't need anything . I've shipped metal on here in the past in a flat rate box but you would need to know what is needed .
Yard sales for junk...

Thrift stores too,check with management for junk they cannot sell.

Bedframes usually free and usually good angle iron but some very hard and ruin hack saws...

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I'm surprised to be the first to mention it, machinable wax. There's commercial and DIY, something for everyone. I don't use it all the time, but I do find it handy. I fill some glass containers with it, toss them in the oven for a while and out pops blue plastic rods, plates, etc. The material shrinks a bit as it cools, so it tends to pop out of the container pretty easy. Clean the machine well before using, and you can remelt the swarf over and over.
There you are Mauser ! A lot of good tips and ideas where to get your materials from.
Yep! Never heard of machinable wax before, but just looked it up, and especially liked the look of the homemade stuff! We're a little short of industrial stuff in my area, but I'll find stuff somewhere!
I have a welding shop that sells their drops to me by the lb. Sometimes a dollar and sometimes 1.50. For 2 to 3 ft. lengths.
Craig's list..free section..riding mower has shafts.gears.flat metal .hubs..treadmills .list goes on..
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