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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I didn't see a thread dedicated to the ins & outs of building materials so I am starting one. It would be nice to have an area to reference minimal cost/free material and possible locations to get it. Being in construction, you can imagine the plethora of waste that ends up in the dumpster that I see daily. What they see as waste, I see as gold mine of aged materials that I can easily put in place with little work involved. As usual, the only disclaimer is don't steal and/or trespass.

Try to keep the following format:

4x4 POSTS

(EDIT in bold)
Steel contractors use 4x4 posts as dunnage to stack material so it can be easily accessed with a forklift. These posts will be used and abused quickly from setting steel beams and columns on. Check out a local steel yard to see if they have any scraps they will dump.

Ideas: electric chairs, non-load bearing wood posts/columns, etc...
 

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Furniture and appliance stores tend to have lots of large boxes and some good sized chunks of styrofoam on a real regular basis. Always ask before you take stuff.
If you let them know what you are looking for, they may save stuff for you to pick-up. Be courteous, say thank you, and leave them a phone number they can reach you by to pick stuff up. For them, it means that they don't fill their dumpsters so fast, those dumpsters cost them money.

If you have a local Costco or Sam's Club, you can find tons of boxes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights.

Thrift shops tend to keep things that are in fairly good shape that they can sell, that being said, they tend to throw out tons of stuff that is either damaged or of a nature in product that they can't/won't sell. Again, ask before you take anything, and leave them a note with your phone number and what kind of items you are interested in.

Construction and remodel sites tend to have all kinds of odd bits of material to get tossed. Keep your eyes open and you can find lots of good stuff.

Yard, garage, block, and boot sales can offer you all kinds of treasures that sellers are anxious to get rid of. Hunt early and often.

Flea markets can offer some surprising finds too, though they tend to be more expensive than the yard sale category.
 

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Any time I stop at any industrial business, I explain to them what i do, and ask if the have any old materials that they are planning to throw out. I tell them that I would rather recycle something as opposed to wasting it. I've been given multiple truck loads of blue styrofoam, white bead foam, 1x4 crate wood. 1 inch plywood, and 10 buckets of drywall mud, plus various partial buckets of paint.
 

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If you don't mind a little dumpster diving, anywhere where they are doing construction (good luck these days :p). You really need to watch out for sharp nails and other snags.

Legal Disclaimer: Make sure you are only taking refuse, however. Even at that, some companies don't want the liability if you get hurt, so they may not allow you to pick through their trash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Legal Disclaimer: Make sure you are only taking refuse, however. Even at that, some companies don't want the liability if you get hurt, so they may not allow you to pick through their trash.
True but bottom line, it depends on the jobsite superintendent, phase of construction and time of day. Try to hit the jobsite office in the afternoon towards quittin' time. The sales pitch for what you are after is equally important too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
TEETH CUSTOMIZED

Nut/seeds shells - Pistachio, sunflower seeds.

Stolloween used sunflower seeds (whole) as teeth on his sentinels (http://www.hauntforum.com/showthread.php?t=15715). I thought this was amazing so now I am putting it in here.

My contribution to this technique is after eating seeds, let the shells dry out (or handle when wet, it's your slobber anyway), glue the shells to an appropriate length zip tie to create makeshift dentures. Then when ready, apply to your prop and put the finishing touches on. You can always just glue them directly onto the prop obviously too.
 

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Freecycle.org is one of my best resources for free stuff. I have been using it for several years. The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,040 groups with 8,933,508 members around the world. It's a nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free. To join simply go to Freecycle.org and search for your local community. After your membership is approved you will start receiving email from freecycle listing people in your community who are giving stuff away. User tip: Create a separate email folder for all Freecycle email so you can sort through them easily and delete ones you are not interested in. You can request as many items as you want, but you have to be chosen by the person giving it away. So always ask nicely, it helps a lot.

I have seen everything on there from grocery coupons to full size working pianos and everything in between. If you can imagine it, it has probably been given away on there. I have received many nice items including halloween and christmas decor, baby items, furniture, paint and building supplies, and so much more. And it is always FREE. No one is allowed to ask for money. And since it is in your local community there is no shipping charges, etc. You just go pick it up.
 

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Humanitarian of the Year
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Free 4x4 posts - ironworker dunnage for stacking and separating steel. I will make my electric chair out of this.
 

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rods / posts of all sizes

I've found various parts of tree limbs often substitute for wood dowels, rods posts, pvc pipe, etc. Building an armature for a craggly old monster or hunchback gate keeper? often you don't want/need perfectly straight pieces, so a tree limb might substitute nicely and have the bend already built in!

Smaller twigs can be hot glued or tied with twine to make all manner of items
 

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plywood/ 2x2, 1x4
a local oil well drilling equipment manufacturer throwes away huge dumpsters full of old pallets, and wooden creates of all sizes everyday. I made my pirate ship, columns, even a raised garden all from stuff from there. I just asked the supervisor in receiving to save some for me, as long as I don't let it sit there to long I can have all I want, the worst thing that could happen when you ask is they say NO!
 
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