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Where to find good free/ cheap stuff  RSS feed

 
Sage Boyd
Posts: 32
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Hi all, what's your best source for finding stuff you need?

One of the guys in our community runs the town dump, so we have that cornered. I also have craigslist for our area. Where do you look? I am looking for building materials, but also for furniture, tools, anything that can be re-purposes into household stuff.

Thanks in advance.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Around here the roadside ditches are good for five gallon buckets and other containers that bounce out of moving vehicles. I use them extensively in my container garden. There's also a lot of dumping of used tires on back roads, which make great planters.

What I have not yet found is a source of free pallets. Could use so many!
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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freecycle can be great, though I use it as a way to get rid of things rather than get them
My local paint shop is more than willing to give me big plastic buckets.
I'm also turning into my parents: I remember hiding in the back seat as they waved down trailers of useful stuff heading off to the dump-
that gene is now being well and truly expressed in the next generation!
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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hi, Sage.......you might find some ideas in this thread about FREE STUFF
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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We've got a local small publisher in our valley, a business run by our friends. They get their printed stuff shipped to them on pallets and do not seem to re-use all of them - so, from time to time...

We've been able to get both plastic and steel containers/buckets free, from another couple we know who run a soap factory.

I've only acquired a few things off of eBay: some specialized pliers (parallel), a fly-fishing reel, and some web-site builder software are three that I recall. Good deals, all - but shipping costs figure in, and can make it prohibitive. Craig's List is difficult to use in the sparsely populated, spread-out, remote area where I live. What I wonder about with used-item online sales systems like eBay is whether the great bargains on things like power tools (in good condition) have become less likely. With eBay, things can get bid-up quite a lot.

For tools, check out pawn shops. At least with them, the proprietors desire to move stock quickly and make a lot of daily sales, and for the most part they're dealing with a clientele walking in through the store each day. So the marked prices can start out quite reasonable, and often you can negotiate until you get an even better price. Same with yards sales, usually.

With tools, there was a time when probably half my tools were secondhand - and, if I looked at it in terms of total $$ cost of my tools, it was probably more like 75%. That's because power tools generally cost more than individual non-power hand tools.

My first tablesaw, drill press, router, drill, etc were 2nd-hand. Larger individual investments. I got them from yard sales, pawn shops, urban power-tool resellers (acquiring from belly-up businesses), flea markets. I've continued to use some of those purchases for 20 years or more, because I found that for me it made more $$ sense to continue to use them than to replace them with newer (and, oh yes, sometimes better) power tools. I did eventually replace many of them, although the Rockwell drill press and Craftsman router are still serving me. I still have many 2nd-hand non-power hand tools.

With hand tools, I got a lot of the basics from pawn shops, etc. But because I live 450 miles (east or west) from large Canadian cities with large pawn shops, and 150 miles north of same in the U.S., my opportunities have been limited in some ways. In other words, beyond the basic tools every handyman acquires, if I've needed a specialized hand tool I would probably not be able to get it 2nd-hand when I needed it.

Visits to urban places can be important. Get there on a Saturday morning, and get the local 'community newspaper' and look at yard-sale listings. You'll probably need a map or a GPS too. I'm amazed at the good shop-tool and kitchen equipment city people will sell dirt cheap, even when the items may appear nearly brand new! Once my wife found three like-new small Honeywell electric block heaters for free on an urban curbside.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
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The value of making connections with local people, especially farmers/homesteaders/builders is beyond my reckoning. Friends are the best resource! Being generous when I have an abundance of something mashes me feel good and so I let my friends give me stuff so they can have a good feeling too Also the local food co-op/health food store is full of friends. I just scored an awesome three bay stainless steel sink from them after a remodel. My barn has this great shelf in it that used to be the bulk food section and before that was a kindergarten cubby shelf! Keeping the ol eyes open.

Curbside, craigslist, Saturday afternoon yard sale leftovers...

I let it be known among the local tree services that I will take wood chips and tree chunks.
 
Amy Woodhouse
Posts: 48
Location: NC, Zone 7
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Row houses, townhomes, apartments...they all have group dumpsters and areas where they pile things to be taken to the dump. Its common practice to set things to the side that are still useful and can be used by someone else.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1374
Location: northern California
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Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make even more, but not necessarily in the stock market! For several years I was a fan of big outdoor campout music festivals. I would stay till the very end, sometimes begging permission to camp an extra night if it was possible. The scroungings available in the campground and vendors area just after such events were frequently truly incredible. Especially if bad weather or some other incident causes the festival to break up early or in haste. All manner of camping gear.....entire tents,tarps, grills, lanterns, canisters of fuel, cut and split firewood, food and drink of every description, toiletries, etc. More than once, an observant eye turned up cash money and drugs! Several times I figured out that I more than made up the worth of my own ticket on what I hauled out of there!
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1412
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
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Buckets are often available via commercial bakeries.
55gallon drums from car washes.
Two days ago my visiting sister (Codename:Rebel Leader)and I "liberated" a sapling from an overgrown roadside.
Construction dumpsters have scrapable metals, used wood, electrical and plumbing fixtures and even fasteners.
Asking works as well, and here is a secrete
tip: the national chain of plumbing/drain cleaners known as roto-rooter sells time release pipe cleaner to commercial customers. The cleaner comes in stackable, rectangular 5 gallon containers, is safe enough to wash your hands and the containers come back to the shop mostly empty. I use them as is for liquids, cut out their sides for stackable storage, and cut peices out of them for washers, shims , hinges and corner braces. Find a shop, and just ask, worst they can say is no.
Recently I have been considering the waste stream of schools. Due to government involvement, food and drink that is not eaten is tossed out. Even if you don't want to go fregan on that stuff, your chickens won't mind!
I have even considered getting a job at the grocery store to intercept the discarded meat, produce, dairy and bakery products before they hit the trash compactor.

Some of this produce goes to food banks were clients are encouraged to take all they want, so it will not go to waste. Few do, as many of them do not know how to cook from scratch, and also avoid eating veg any way.

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
20
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William Bronson wrote:Construction dumpsters have scrapable metals, used wood, electrical and plumbing fixtures and even fasteners.

I'm curious... This has become more difficult in my part of Canada, and probably other parts as well. Situations with the dumpsters are more guarded, and generally less accessible than they probably were 20 years ago. How is it where you are?

Also, in rural areas (town, suburban, and urban probably similar) our community dumps ("transfer stations") have systematized things well, and you can see the scrap metal usually in one area. BUT while we can deposit scrap in these areas, we're now prohibitted from scrounging around in them - by regulatory rules. Some scrap-metal areas even have surveillance cameras and signs letting you know that's the case (I suppose the idea is they may get your pickup's license #).

In the case of the dump scrap-metal heaps, I think the regional districts (equivalent to your "counties") are leery of lawsuits from those few people who might hurt themselves in the heaps and proceed to court - insurance concerns.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
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Along the lines of the music festival, the first of the month is always the best day to go curb shopping, and in our area which is populated in the winter by college students and in the summer by tourists, the first of June is amazing. Back when I went to the university those of us who worked on campus in the recycling center put out boxes for the students to put unwanted but still useable clothes and other items in to keep them out of the waste stream. What a bonanza! We got so much stuff that there is now an annual giant yardsale of the box stuff.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1412
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
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Yeah, official dumps are very tightly controlled around here, as are some construction dumpsters.
The least likely dumpsters to be controlled are the ones used the most, so apartment buildings for dumping things illicitly,hospital and college construction dumpsters for picking up things on the sly.
Where I live hospitals and colleges are always building, rebuilding and renovating.

We used to go shopping for furniture when the students left, but that was before the bedbug resurgence...
 
Sage Boyd
Posts: 32
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I love all this info. We have a member of our community that works as the Transfer station attendant in our town. o far we have received a beautiful *huge* window. a door, and a double sided sink. All great things for our project. Still working on a list for him so we can make sure he's looking for all the things we need. Our county does not have restrictions on scraping or anything. there is a "free" stuff shed set beside the dumpsters for people to leave useful things already and wood/mulch/ etc is set in an area that one can easily pull a truck up to and take whats wanted. I'm not as sure about the metal...

craigslist is pretty active and a local farm has what they have labeled a "resource pile" (a junk area that is well stocked and well organized).

I'm gonna work on making friends with locals.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
20
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Sage Boyd wrote:there is a "free" stuff shed set beside the dumpsters for people to leave useful things already and wood/mulch/ etc is set in an area that one can easily pull a truck up to and take whats wanted. I'm not as sure about the metal...

Yes, our transfer station has a free-stuff shed, too. And that's good. But it's filled only with stuff that is put in there by residents, never by any of the staff people - so a lot of fairly useful stuff no doubt still winds up in the transfer bins or in the metal scrap heap (off-limits to resident-scroungers).
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I haven't tried this... it's just a thought that's occurred to me. I wonder if the dumpsters on college campuses, near the quarters of the trades training (welding/machining training, auto-mechanics, carpentry & cabinet-making, electronic-technician, etc) - and possibly even near the hands-on ag courses areas - could yield good stuff?

I'm sure I'd have tried it by now, but I live too far from the colleges in my region. Anybody know?
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I was saying before that visits to urban places can be valuable for us rural dwellers. Another case in point: my wife was out passing Parksville (a kind of well-heeled, hoity-toity town on Vancouver Island), and she got this collander (Padermo brand). She's seen these in kitchen stores near where we live for over $50, and seen them for sale online for $22-40, and you'd have to pay shipping.

She found ours at a thrift store in Parksville for $4 - and it just needed three replacement washers that fit between the handles and the body (held in place with fancy little machine screws and nuts, which were on the colander when she bought it). Easily fixed. Amazing someone threw it out.


Colander.jpg
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enamelled colander
 
Tim Clauson
Posts: 43
Location: Oklahoma
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We find plenty of building materials by recycling old buildings:
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6672
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have recycled hundreds of buildings. That pry bar is good. Almost every technique used in the video was inefficient labor wise.

The boards that were pried off from the ladder, could have been done from the roof using an 8 ft 2x4 as a pry stick. None of the steps taken from the ladder looked safe or efficient. Using that same 2x4, I would have spent 2 minutes to bang all of the boards from the gable end rather than pushing it over.

Safety. The ladder work could all have been done from the safety of the floor. A mask to guard against inhaling rat, bat and bird shit is needed. A broad brim hat and a dampened long sleeve shirt will keep you far cooler.

It took me 11 days to remove 3 storeys from this hotel. This is enough wood to build about 20 houses. This was the most extreme physical test of my life. I'm 50 and finished last Friday. I took down over 90% of the wood myself while a small army cleared the space after each pass.

I was perfectly comfortable while helpers sweltered in the heat. No sun on my body or head and no dust in my eyes or lungs. I wear a full face asbestos mask. A 2x4 hit me square in the face. It bounced off with no I'll effect.
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Tim Clauson
Posts: 43
Location: Oklahoma
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Thanks for the input Dale. Glad you have good experience. Couldn't have pried anything off from the roof - there was no roof. Only rafters which were not to be trusted. Someone else high graded the building.
I worked with what I had. This was not an extreme physical test for me - I was in no hurry. Still working on the building in fact. At a nice leisurely pace.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6672
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Yeah, I tend to try to make everything super efficient. Get a sun hat and a dust mask and your body will thank you (: My friend died with fungus in his lungs, believed to have come from bat poop.

It's tough when someone else has been there. They may have created dangerous conditions that are not readily apparent. I walked onto a section of roof that had been undermined. Some lath held together boards that had a frame wall before. The most dangerous situation was caused by the volunteer fire department. They cut practice rescue holes through floors, after the job was mine and they had no right to be there. The house was left open. Had they locked up, I wouldn't have been on guard and may have blundered into the trap.
 
Tim Clauson
Posts: 43
Location: Oklahoma
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Dale Hodgins wrote: Get a sun hat and a dust mask and your body will thank you (: My friend died with fungus in his lungs, believed to have come from bat poop.

It's tough when someone else has been there. They may have created dangerous conditions that are not readily apparent.

So very true - and I definitely need to spend the money on a hard hat (still keeps the sun off...). Working overhead with hard objects falling at oneself is not the most desirable situation. I will have one next week when I can get into town.
Thanks
 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Joel R. : the steel/iron parts that end up showing up in the Garbage stream are separated out by the employees at your dump, as a minimum
they pay for the transfer employees coffee, they are paid minimum wage, and are likely to raid the material stacked up within the 'free shed'
this keeps them in coffee and gloves to clean up after the locals who don't care if they even hit the holes

You can't expect to get some thing for nothing ! If you walk into the central station to biuy a set of bags, AFTER the sale announce that the
garbage you are carrying is the equivalent of three bags worth and hand them back 3 unused bags, this wil allow them to re-sell the bags !

At this point you are a marked man and will not have to follow any rules,Any additional picking will require an additional kick-back ! Again
remind yourself these people are working for minimum wage ! For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6672
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have enlisted many dump and transfer station employees to watch for and save things that I am able to market at demolition sales. This usually cost me $20 for a load that might bring $60. One of the city's top scrounges and wealthiest citizens was Mr. Chew who owned a wood dump. He hated to see good stuff wasted and allowed employees to scrounge. Whole sheds and cottages were built with the bounty. Workers stayed late to fill up with free firewood. The gate guy was a mechanic who earned somewhere around $30 per hour. When nobody was at the scales, he continued working on heavy equipment. This was the best run dump around and it was a sad day when it closed as the land went to other uses. I met middle aged employees who had been hired as teenagers. Few ever quit.
 
Kim Briggs
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Along the salvage lines... This guy goes to the courthouse, finds out who has been told to fix it or get rid of it & then goes to the person & offers to tear the house down for free if the owner will provide the dumpster. Nowadays, he is so well known that people call him from all over and ask him to come and tear down their house...
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Boy, I sure hope I'm that shredded when I'm that gray.

Kim Briggs wrote:
 
Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars. Tiny ad:
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