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How To Make Money From Scrap yards

Updated on November 21, 2012
A scrap yard with a whole bunch of junk piled up!
A scrap yard with a whole bunch of junk piled up! | Source
You probably won't find any of this metal at a scrap yard!
You probably won't find any of this metal at a scrap yard! | Source

You can make a good amount of money buying scrap copper and brass and selling it for what it is really worth. Scrapyards and scrappers themselves sometimes don't see the value in a work of art or collectible item simply because they either want or need quick cash, or simply don't care. If you know where to look, you can make good money by having the right connections.

There is a scrapyard near me and they have a table where you can actually go buy scrap if you pay them the melt value of the piece. This works great for people who are artists, or in this case, for collectors and resellers. Often times you will find a lot of junk, but sometimes you can find some real treasures. Here are a few things to think about and look for if you are lucky enough to have a scrapyard near you that allows this.

1) Find a scrapyard that will work with you. I can't say how many scrapyards offer this service to people, but it can't hurt to call them up to see. If you are lucky enough to be near a scrapyard like this, then go check it out and see what you can find! Communication is key. Perhaps you can make connections with people at the scrapyard and they will keep items that "look like artwork" for people like you to buy from them. This is just another way to make money with picking, and the most important part of it is again, as I always say, talking with people and getting them to cooperate with you.

2) Is the item worth a premium above melt value? There are so many types of copper and brass items that you can buy at scrapyards. The question is, are they worth more than their melt value? Here are a few items to look for. Next to each item is an example on Ebay to show you that these items are on Ebay and do sell for a lot of money. You never know what you will find!

You Can Do Very Well With Scrapping If You Do It Right!

3) How heavy is the item and will it ship easily? Small and heavy items are very easy and cheap to ship with USPS flat rate envelopes or boxes, but heavy and large items can be very costly to ship. These are important things to consider because they will cut into your bottom line. Clearly if you find a large, intricate, fragile item, it will most likely be worth getting for resale, but it had better be unique.

4) Would you display the item in your home? As I said before, In a worst case scenario where you are unable to sell the item, will you enjoy it yourself? It's always nice to buy things that you like for this reason. This applies to everything I buy for resale and this is why I generally pick things that are in the field that I enjoy. It's unlikely that everything you pick will sell, so you should be prepared to either keep the item or scrap it again for a small loss.

Types Of Items You Should Look For

Artwork is the most difficult and really does require the most skill to pick successfully. Look for quality and ideally something with markings. A sticker that says "made in India" will probably be worth a lot less than something that says something like "hand crafted in Greece" or another less common country. If all else fails, and you are uncertain, my rule is, if you like the item personally, then you can't feel bad because you will enjoy it no matter what anyway!

Stunning brass bookends from a museum in Ontario
Stunning brass bookends from a museum in Ontario | Source

Candlesticks are very common and generally don't bring in much in the way of profits. I would say that you should look for very thick ones because generally speaking this will mean they are higher quality from what I have seen.

Bookends can be very good money on Ebay. It does depend on the design obviously, but anything interesting will most likely sell very well on Ebay. Bookends can be strange because it is like a form of art and so the value really does depend on the eye of the beholder.

Vintage Copral copper kettle that I sold on Ebay
Vintage Copral copper kettle that I sold on Ebay | Source

Cookware can be very profitable. Look for items that have brand names on them, because they will be the ones that are collectible and will sell on Ebay. Cookware will mostly be copper and the inside will be tinned. You can look for Copral or Stockli Netstal to name a few, but generally speaking, if it is in decent condition it will sell well. Even things that don't have brand names are still desirable for decoration purposes.

Brass religious items like Menorahs or Crosses can be worth a ton of money. I have purchased brass Menorahs for just a few dollars and sold them for over $50. Quality is key, so you should rely on your picking instinct to make a good purchase. You can rarely go wrong with a finely crafted religious item that is made out of brass. Generally, i would say avoid ones that look flimsy and cheaply made because they will most likely not be very desirable.


Remember, it is very important to bring a very strong magnet when trying to find brass. You will need to get a neodymium magnet. I always carry one of these whenever I go out picking and you should too! You can find these cheap on Ebay from time to time. These are very powerful and will tell you easily if an item is brass or brass plated. This is one of the most important picking tools you can have. It is cheap, simply, small, and will tell you if an item is magnetic or not. These are excellent for checking sterling jewelry as well. A quick word of warning about these though, keep them away from your phone and other electronic devices!

I hope you enjoyed this hub! If you liked it would you subscribe for more? Do you love treasure hunting, selling on Ebay, or just learning about cool vintage stuff? Check out my youtube channel for tons of videos about my adventures and hauls as well as tips, tricks, and countless bits of information!

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    • Jason Mcnutt profile image

      Jason McNutt 2 years ago from Box Elder, South Dakota

      That is good advice. I do scrapping and I try to sell what is good on my own. I will say I never thought about buying from a yard to resell.

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