Share this Page URL

Chapter 1. Introduction > The Secret Language of Scrap Yards - Pg. 31

MAKE: PROJECTS Eccentric Cubicle Treat a trip to a scrap yard with the same attitude as a trip to a technical consultant: assume that (at the very least) they are as knowledgable as you are regarding whatever it is you're looking for. Earn extra points by asking for what you want with reasonable, but not extreme specificity: one surefire way to annoy yard staff is to come through the gate and say "I need leetle piece metal" while holding your index fingers in the air demonstratively. Another way is to ask for " 3 / 8 " polished aluminum checkerplate 14 7 8 " x 29 13 / 16 " . . . I can go as high as / 29 15 / 16 ", but you'll need to knock a buck or two off the price." (These are verbatim requests I have personally fielded during my time as a yard grunt at North Star recycling.) Once you're pointed in the right direction, proceed with caution and keep your eyes open. A yard is full of pointy metal, large weighty things on forklifts, and unnaturally strong men carrying heavy loads. Having your path intersect any of these things will invariably result in injury. In a scrap yard, you're gonna be faced with containers of metal. Really big containers. The stuff you want is likely on cutters. Your needs may vary. Whatever you do, do not just start taking something apart. Show the guy at the scale what you're interested in, explain what you're planning to do with it, and negotiate both permission and price. Because these things get priced on the fly 99% of the time, the way you relate with guy at the scale directly determines both the price and the possibility of you getting clocked on the head with a baseball bat for being an asshole. Finding the stuff in the first place is dependent on your relationship with the yard grunts. The owner/manager/guy at the scale may handle the money, but the guys in the yard move the goods around and know exactly where it is. Be polite, become a regular, and show them proper respect. The occasional box of Krispy Kremes wouldn't hurt, either. If you're on good terms with the staff and you come in frequently, they'll often keep an eye open for stuff on your "gotta get" list. It's worth the effort. Stuff I've come across at yards recently, over and above the now-legendary UroView 2500? A full set of ding- and crack-free Zildjian and Paiste cymbals,