View Full Version : Unexpected sources of raw materials for projects

06-03-2010, 05:05 PM
I thought it would be interesting if we post common, but unexpected, sources of materials that we might use for our various projects. I'll start:

Leather -- When I first started looking for leather to make sheathes for knives, I didn't have the foggiest idea of where to find it. I went to the hobby store, but the only leather they had was thin and flimsy...like you'd use to make moccasins for a doll or something.

One day, I went to the local indoor flea market and I noticed bundles under the table at the booth where the lady makes and sells leather belts.

As it turns out, these were rolled up cutoffs from cowhides, pieces that were too short to make a belt out of, but too long to simply discard. For $25, I got a roll with enough leather to make at least 25-30 sheathes.

So, in my experience, checking the local flea market for the "belt guy" might be a good way to find a source for leather for our projects.

Who's next? What useful stuff have you found in an unexpected place?

06-03-2010, 05:19 PM
Can't really call them unexpected, but I've always had good luck at Goodwill or other thrift stores. Got real lucky once in a state park. A guy threw away a brand new tent cause he couldn't figure out how to set it up. Gave it to a friend in need.......

06-03-2010, 05:23 PM
Leather swatches can be had at some furniture stores, usually old samples and such. Many places are willing to get rid of them.

Horn and antler as other bits on occasion can be had at some taxidermy places. Like above some may be looking to get rid of some of it. Also if you know someone who traps, they have to discard waste somewhere, always a good place for bones and antler.

06-03-2010, 05:30 PM
AWESOME THREAD! anyone who reloads should go see there local tire guy for there old wheel weights, they also make great sinkers and bean flipper ammo.

06-03-2010, 05:31 PM
I get my leather from a local saddle shop, same type of deal as Mook, they are too small for saddles, but perfect for sheaths and such. $10 a bundle.

06-03-2010, 05:52 PM
Check your local custom cabinet/furniture makers for scraps of burl wood. They usually have little stuff that won't work for them but work good for guys like us.
Check the local slaughter house for cow horns and sometimes small fork horn antlers.

06-03-2010, 06:29 PM
~Goodwill is also a good place to score containers for billy cans.

~Tire shops will give ya a tube from a wheel barrow to make ranger bands.

~Show up at a fishing tournament at weigh in time. All the fish are released back to the lake. It's real easy to score 30lb of fish you didn't have run up and down the lake catching.

~Womens purses are really cheap at garage sales and usually have a load of buckles and D rings to salvage. Make sure the wife buys them tho...

06-03-2010, 06:42 PM
Best jute I've ever found was at Michaels in the jewelery dept. They had the 48lb stuff that is loosely wrapped and super easy to tease into a birds nest.

Cedar fence posts can be had for $1 a piece at the lumber yard for bowdrill practice.

Walmart - lock'n'lock brand containers can be had for $2-3 and make perfect waterproof PSK's.

Department stores like k-mart or zellers seem to be a better place to get 1lb and 2lb coffee tins (usually econo-brands) compared to grocery stores which seem to be all switching to high end coffees with cardboard/plastic containers.

Gas stations still seem the best place on earth to find safety orange mini-bics. Gas stations often also sell bags of pre-cut hardwood for fire.

06-03-2010, 07:01 PM
Check the Pet store or department for rawhide dog chews, get the larger ones and use hot water to soften them, then shape to fit , or cut thongs, whatever needed.

06-05-2010, 04:34 PM
I have posted a similar set of places in another thread but only non-retail items.

One thing I have bought that has been very handy is small tins from US Plastics Corp.
They are largely retailers of plastics in all types but sell other items too.

They make some really small ones like rectangular match tins that are about 2" long by 1 1/4" wide, 1/2 high.

Also round tins up to the size of CD/DVD holders that are about 1 1/2" deep.
One thing is to look out about quantities. Some things they'll sell per piece, some only by the case. (This might work for a group buy though.)

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/search.aspx?search=Oblong%20Seamless%20Tins%20with %20Lids&page=1
Also selling plastic drums and water containers plus labware, protective gloves, etc.

They also have good reference pages on what material goes with what chemical or use.

The site is for purchasers so it is pic and info heavy. (you may have to wade):eek: They will sell to individuals as opposed to many companies in this line.
I have rarely had any problem with them in years, and when so, they made it right.

06-05-2010, 04:48 PM
~Tire shops will give ya a tube from a wheel barrow to make ranger bands.

I am just getting a start in real leatherwork. One thing I have thought about pertaining to build or repair is shoes.
A number of companies making high-dollar boots used to use rubber cut from tire tread to make shoe and boot soles.
Of course tire shops now have to jump hoops on tire disposal but if you are taking care of the tire then it's off their hands.

I know lots of folks use them for truck bumper covers and such too.
You have to use a heavy duty saw to cut them though since most are wire reinforced.

Motorcycle and BMX bike tires may also be good as well as tractor tires.
Motorcycle and bike tubes would also be closer to ranger bands in length, mostly.

06-05-2010, 05:40 PM
If you know anyone who works in healthcare, especially the operating room or the laboratory, there are all kinds of neat things that come as packaging that work great as small kits/cases including small watertight bottles and small plastic boxes. There are also many other things that "outdate" and are no longer considered sterile so they get thrown out but are perfectly good to use such as heavy plastic tubing, scalpel blades, and needles pre-loaded with heavy suture that are great little repair kits. The possibilites are endless if you keep an eye out. And then we wonder why our health care costs are what they are. The amount of stuff that gets thrown away can stock a hospital in a third world country three times over.

06-05-2010, 05:46 PM
Keep an eye on the dide of the road for a discarded leather couch, lots of leather in one of them for pouches and sheaths

06-05-2010, 09:02 PM
I look for old leather purses at the swap meet, yard sales etc. Best are the western style, usually lots of decent leather, pre-drilled too.

Dad bought about 100 meters of jute at a yard sale. Widow's husband had it since the 40's. Turns out it was fuse. Took a great spark and burned hot and fast. Dad gave it to a freind who had an explosives license, he loved it!

06-05-2010, 10:36 PM
We found nice 2 and 5 gallon buckets at a super market deli/bakery. They had cake icing in them so good to put about anything in for long storage. Cost is 45 cents for 5 gallon and 25 cents for the 2 gallon ones. We use them for rice, flour, salt etc.

So check out the local bakerys. Be sure to freeze flour and rice for 30 days before storage to kill the bug eggs.

06-05-2010, 11:04 PM
Twist an old style wire fork from a coat hanger!, i have been useing the same one i twisted four years ago everytime im out bushin' it also go's great with your hand carved spoons!http://www.nwta.com/couriers/11-96/forks.html