Over the years I have found that some of the best parts I have used on my projects have come from things that I may have thrown away. It really doesn’t take that much time and the idea behind this is that when something breaks in your home there are probably a lot of parts on it that you can save and put into your parts inventory.
Something as simple as screws that hold a radio or TV or other appliance together should be removed and stored in a parts bin for later use. The cost to buy screws can get expensive and the thing is the type of screws that are used in appliance manufacturing can’t normally be found at the local store. You might find them at a specialty hardware store but then you are paying $1-3 for a bag of 5 screws or washers and if you have them on hand you don’t have to run to the store.
I will normally strip down any item I can before I put it out for the trash.
Remove Electrical Cords, Screws and Washers, Brackets, Speakers. If the housing is metal you might want to keep the case to use for patch sheet metal. Something like a desk or shelve unit should have the wood desktop or shelves saved so you don’t have to buy wood to build a project.
I can’t even tell you the number of times I have re-purposed something and saved myself money. Something like building a workbench or stool for the garage or repairing a cut cord on a saw with one I saved from something else.
You do have to make sure that you use the proper items such as electrical cords. If they are used on the same type item with the same voltage and amperage. Look for markings on the cord for the gauge of the wire.
Saving things like the connectors for batteries in devices will save you when you leave a set of batteries in a radio or something and they leak and need to replace them. Just solder on the connectors from your inventory and your device is back working.
You have already paid for all these parts so why not keep them.
Storing your Parts
Storing your parts is pretty easy. I like to use the small parts bin cabinets that you can get at most hardware stores. They will have a number of different trays that you can store different size and types of screws, bolts, washers, nuts.
For storing electrical cords you should try to take the item apart to make sure there aren’t any connectors you want to save. If not then cut them free and place a piece of masking tape with permanent marker list what item you took it off then loop them in a small loop and store them in a plastic storage box. You can also get a long hook to hang them on the wall or some people put a bungee cord around them and hang them from the wall.
I often have to replace the wheels on my power assist lawn mower. They can be pretty expensive. What happens is the gears wear out on the inside of the wheel because its a plastic or nylon. When I save them i use a hack saw to cut that gear off the face of the wheel and then I can use them for the back wheels.
Something as simple as the top half of a 2liter soda can be cut off and used as a funnel in the garage. Keep a few different sized bottles cut their tops off and stack them inside each other. You will have funnels for oil or gasoline and not have to steal one out of the kitchen.
Saving everything you can really will save you over time. Start off by using a coffee can or something simple. Then once you get enough stuff you can sort it in parts trays. Within a few years you will gather a large number of parts that you won’t have to buy.
This will make fixing things much easier because you aren’t running around town trying to find something you already threw away.
Things like wood tabletops or shelves that are broken down can be stored in a crawlspace or even used in your attic for walking on so you aren’t putting a foot through your ceiling if you need to go up there.
The projects are unlimited just keep on keeping your hard paid for stuff.