Finding Hardware on the Ground

By , April 8, 2014

Spring thaws the snow and ice, laying a winter’s worth of dropped and fumbled valuables exposed to whoever cares to pick it up. It’s harvest time for scroungers.

I’m one of those people who picks up loose change from the ground. If you’re like me, you know that even pennies add up eventually. I’m flexible and agile enough to bend over quickly and scoop up change, so why not?

Even though I’ve done this since childhood, it is only in the last couple of decades that I took the next logical step, and began picking up loose hardware.

"See a carriage bolt, pick it up, all day long you'll . . . Okay, it's not as catchy, but you get the picture . . . (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

“See a carriage bolt, pick it up, all day long you’ll . . . Okay, it’s not as catchy, but you get the picture . . . (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

You’ve probably done it a hundred times: you see a flat, round, shiny shape, and stop to inspect it. Instead of the dime or quarter you expected, you see it’s a flat washer, and walk on. You dismiss it because it’s not 10 or 25¢, but the next day, week, or month, you turn around and pay 30¢ (or more, if it’s stainless steel) for another washer just like it!

Hardware, as you know if you build things, is not cheap. A project can literally nickel and dime into a surprising cost. Even so, few of us think to collect the nuts, bolts, washers, and other miscellaneous hardware that litters our streets and parking lots.

So now, when I’m out and about in town, I keep a casual eye out for change and hardware. Anything I find either goes into a coin bank or the hardware drawers at home. Whenever I need hardware of a certain type, I check the drawers first, then purchase it if I don’t already have what I need. Since I live semi-remotely, this represents more significant savings for me, perhaps the extra time and expense of a trip to town to fetch the necessary item.

If you don’t pick up change, you may dismiss me with whatever condemnation you choose: “penny pincher,” “avaricious,” “pathetic.” That’s your right. I appreciate the incremental savings it represents.

One Response to “Finding Hardware on the Ground”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    You are right on track -surprising how much the hardware cost for a simple project – a bench can take a lot of lag bolts and washers- best deal here on hardware is TSB (Tractor Supply – they sell by the pound – my workbench has several freezer bags of misc nuts, bolts washer – better to pour them on the table than to try and keep things neat and tidy-keep on collecting you may need it someday

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