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Essential Tools For Making Money Recycling Scrap Metal

Updated on June 28, 2014

The Right Tools for the Job

Are you interested in making money by “scrapping” metal?

Recycling scrap metal is a very legitimate way to make some extra cash. As with everything, you get out what you put into it. You can collect everything you see, take it to the scrap yard and throw it off, or you can separate a few things, prepare your load a bit and make more money.

If you keep a few simple tools with you when collecting scrap metals, your job can be much easier and productive! Think of purchasing tools as an investment. I can guarantee that after a few loads, you will make your money back!

Many of these tools you probably have laying around the house. This is not a complete list of everything you need to be successful, but it is everything I would not leave the house without!

A magnet. Any kind would work.
A magnet. Any kind would work. | Source


The Magnet or "Your New Best Friend"

You magnet is the most useful tool you can have if you want to make make more profit off of your scrap. Keep one in your car or truck at all times. Heck, if you can find a key chain magnet and keep one on your person everywhere you go.

Hit your magnet on a piece of metal. If it sticks, it is a ferrous metal. If it doesn’t stick, it is a non-ferrous metal and you can separate it and make more money off of it!

Types of non-ferrous materials you can separate.
Copper, Brass, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Lead.

Your magnet will become your best friend. Many scrap yards offer free magnets to customers. Ask the next time you are at your favorite scrap yard!

A standard issue pair of wire cutters are all you need to make extra cash!
A standard issue pair of wire cutters are all you need to make extra cash! | Source

Wire Cutters

Snips / Side Cuts / Cable Cutters .

Find a good pair of side-cut snips or wire cutters. You don’t have to buy the most expensive or the fanciest set of cutters, but if you do buy a more expensive pair, look for a pair of cable cutters. Greenlee and Klein make high quality cutters for a decent price. They should last you a while if you don't cut steel with them! Do not cut steel with your wire cutters

If anything has a cord, cut it!

Collect all the power cords, extension cords and audio/video cables that you find on your way and keep them separate. These cables have copper inside (called insulated copper) and fetch a good amount more than the rest of your scrap!

If you have a dry wall bucket or a milk crate, these are perfect to keep all your cut cords in.

Hand injuries are extremely common when dealing with scrap metal. Be safe!
Hand injuries are extremely common when dealing with scrap metal. Be safe! | Source

Gloves (Tetnis is not a good thing)


If you knew how many nasty sliced fingers and hands I have seen at the scrap yard, the idea of scrapping without gloves would seem unthinkable. You are dealing with sharp rusty metal as a hobby, let's be smart!

If you have to get 4-5 stitches, it doesn’t matter how much money you made in scrap, you are going to end up in the red.

The “Jersey Gloves” are cheap and work fine. I know people who swear on the mechanics gloves. They are a little too sweaty for my taste, but they do afford much more dexterity in your fingers which is nice. Anything that will keep your hands from getting cut on rusty metal will fit the bill.

Common Scrap Items (Non Ferrous)

Looks Like?
Where is It?
Power cables, Water pipes, Electric Motors
Plumbing, Ornimates, Knobs, Faucets
Window Frames, Siding, Ladders, Car Parts

Other Very Useful Tools




Safety Glasses

First Aid Kit

Another Golden Rule.

Work safe and work smart.

There is no amount of money in the world that is worth jeopardizing your safety. Lift with your legs (team lifting is best), be aware of all sharp edges you are dealing with, and work at a pace you are comfortable with. When people get rushed, people get hurt!

Have fun and look out for each other.

Interested in more? Check out my other article

Tips and Advice for Scrap Metal Recycling

Favorite Tool Poll

What is your favorite tool for "scrapping"

See results


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    • profile image

      Paul 3 years ago

      Excellent post. Thanks!

      I might add? If you aren't too desperate for cash? Try to stockpile some of the items.. The market fluctuates so often.. Especially things like Aluminum cans where you wont make very much right now at $1 a pound but every few years global events cause a spike sometimes 2-3 times its current value. Not everything is like the holy grail AKA copper wire : )

      I have been scrapping for almost 2 decades.. Well worth it.. and lets face it- most people just wont do it so it's a very secure job :)

      If you don't mind working at a computer you can stop by my blog for computer related ideas such as paid to search the internet or watch videos.. I make my living doing about 2-3 dozen different things to make money.. Makes life more interesting : 0

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This is very interesting. We have scrappers in our neighborhood who drive trucks around. I like them, because they can haul or junk away, for free.

    • CANDLE profile image

      CANDLE 3 years ago

      According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), The scrap metal recycling industry has created nearly half a million of jobs and generated $87 Billion annually, which is proof positive that scrap metal recycling can be a source of a relatively decent income for the parties involved. So, heed RustedMemory's advice: get your tools and start cashing in on the scrap metal recycling craze.

      If physical labor is not your cup of tea, explore intellectual ways and avenues to make money.

      Good job RustedMemory!

    • BNadyn profile image

      Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I like that you emphasize work smart and also be safe! Sounds like a good way to make a little extra cash especially since a lot of that scrap metal can be found all over.

    • rustedmemory profile image

      David Hamilton 3 years ago from Lexington, KY

      Austinstar. It is work, but you work smarter, not harder, you can make money and have fun at the same time!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      That looks like a lot of work! It must be good exercise, though.