Author Options:

Supplies and how to get them Answered

I've been browsing Instructables for quite a while now, but whenever I find something I'd like to dirty my hands with I'm stumped as to where and how to find supplies. So can anyone tell me how you get your stuff? LED lights, lengths of cords, magnets, soft metals, etc... I've looked around various hardware stores nearby but usually they only sell things packaged which puts them out of my price range. Do you guys look at discarded things, or simply take regular appliances apart and scavenge what you? Fire away, guys.


Look for as local surplus store. I may or may not buy a tool there, but parts are usually good. It's especially good if you can figure out why they were on sale. I recently got a lot belly button lights cheap because they were two color red and blue, and were supposed to flash alterning, but flashed blue three times, then red.

Do as Tool Using Animal.... go around on garbage day and look for things that may still work (or may have interesting components) and take them (depending on your location, you may want to ask the owners' first. In some places it's illegal to just take trash cause it's still considered private property until the trash man takes it). This is how I found many of the furnishings around my house (also find large broken dressers for bonfires), though for most of them I asked before taking (unless no one was home).

Another good place to look is craigslist.com (under the for sale section you'll find a category that says free... click on it).

I had a good saturday in a cheap hardware store, and some other cheap-o shops. cordless electric drill 16.99 drill bits 2.99 corner braces x2 0.29 nut, bolt & washer x6 0.69 2M 3-core mains cable 1.80 duct/gaffer tape 1 13A plugs x2 0.25 double-sided sticky pads & tape pack 1.00 For those in the UK, that's Wilkinson and every pound-shop in Huddersfield (pounds sterling)

That works for the West Coast, where they have Frys, but what about the midwest?

The Goodwill Blue Hanger store. If you have one in your area, go to it. It is by far the best source of all kinds of random stuff for really cheap, including electric and electronic devices you can gut for parts. The Blue Hanger store is where they send stuff from a bunch of Goodwill stores if it doesn't sell after a while. It's big, so there's lots of stuff to look through, and the stock turns over every few days---you can go there twice a week and look at different stuff every time. In my last few trips there, I've gotten things like a perfectly fine electric lawnmower for $8, a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner for $5, a hand vac for $2, a couple of waffle irons and a couple of rope lights for $2 each, etc. Amazing place for stuff to use or cannibalize. And good for the environment, too---it's the last place to save good stuff from the waste stream.

Besides the Blue Hanger Store, some other good places to get stuff are: Habitat For Humanity ReStore (Habitat for Humanity deconstructs houses and sells the stuff---boards, windows, electrical, plumbing, paint etc. They also have a fair bit of donated new stuff at great prices) All Electronics (www.allelectronics.com). Good prices on lots of of electrical and electronic stuff. McMaster Carr (www.mcmaster.com). Not the cheapest, but a huge selection of hardware stuff, materials. Also Grainger (www.grainger.com). Local "supply" stores and "distributors" of various kinds. For example a plumbing supply store will generally have a lot better selection of fittings than a the plumbing section of a regular hardware or home improvement store. And if you want sheet plastics, go to a plastics distributor, where you can buy larger sheets of plastics at much lower prices per square foot, and with a much better selection. Some of those places have a $100 minimum order, to keep riffraff like us out, but others don't and are happy to sell small quantities. When you're lost, figure out who uses the kind of thing you need, and find out where they get it, using Google, internet forum postings, the yellow pages, etc. There are "supply" places for various trades.

For most stuff, I use Ebay. For everything else, there's master ca... no, Home Depot.

With LEDs I recommend buying them in bulk. It is alot cheaper, and each LED is about 3 dollars cheaper than at radioshack. The last time I bought LEDs they were 6 for $1.44. Buy them off the internet, they are alot cheaper. For magnets, do the same thing, bulk from internet. Buying in bulk from the internet is usually the cheapest way to go.

You have to pick the right day to go shopping, Garbage Day!!

Yay!! There's a recycling depot at the local dump where people drop off old stuff that works (doesn't usually work though). I get all my USB cables from devices there.