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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Copper, Brass, Steel Wire - Where to Buy It CHEAP!

Hi guys!

So today we need to talk about copper, brass and steel. WIRE that is!

I love copper wire. I use it all the time. I use it in garden art, in jewelry and nearly any thing that hangs. I love the fact that the older it gets, the better it gets! So does brass and steel (if you leave it out to rust), but copper still holds my heart!

The price on copper has gone up so high it hurts to buy it. I have never bought copper wire through a whole sale outfit, but, I’ve bought it in large quantities from companies knowing it was a good deal. YET! It still hurts.

The last copper I bought was 20 gauge from a jewelry warehouse. They changed their supplier and I didn’t notice. IT’S HORRIBLE!!! It’s covered with a thin layer of plastic. NOT NICE!!! It doesn’t say it any where in the literature or on the packaging. What hurt worse? I bought 20 spools in 25 foot lengths. Pay attention Shelley!!! That’s all I could think of after I got it home and was trying to use it! It’s still very usable! BUT! It will never get that old, aged patina on it that I love so much. OOPS!

SO! Here’s an idea. If you’ve read this blog before you know I have a thing about metal recycle centers! OH MY! Do I ever!

About a year ago I stumbled upon one right here by me. It had been there a long time, yet I just never “thought” of a reason to stop in. Then I painted my house. While doing that I asked the painters to help me load up an old metal cabinet in my yard. They did and I drove off to that recycle center. Oh was I surprised when they gave me a $23 check. In other words, that cabinet weighed 230 pounds. They were paying 10 cents a pound for clean scrap steel at the time. WELL! I was so happy I found some more. Then on the next trip, not only did I sell them metal, I found some metal I wanted to buy. YEP! They sell any thing they have there. WELL! Nearly anything. There are a few things, by law, they can not.

On that glorious day I bought a few coils of brass wire at $2.25 a pound. I was so happy and they thought I’d lost my mind. They couldn’t believe any one would want to pay that kind of money for wire!!! WELL! Let me tell you ,,, I WAS OVER THE MOON HAPPY!!!

Since that day I’ve been buying most of my copper wire from them. Before that I was buying large gauge copper at a metal recycler who has a contract with the local phone company. They are called an investment and recovery company. They take any thing the phone company has to get rid of. They go through it and sell most of that to scrap company’s. They used to have a day or two a month when they were open to the public and you could go shopping in a certain area that was full of phones of any type, office furniture and every thing you can imagine a large company has and wants to upgrade.

Well, the copper I was buying from them was large mostly #2 or #6 gauge. They charged me 2 different ways depending upon the grade of the copper. Remember, we are talking wire that was used as a grounding wire for your home phone service or that you find on the side of most utility poles. NOT smaller gauge you could use for most jewelry. The prices were going through the roof for the copper. At one point I had to stop at $4 a pound. It only took a few feet and I was at a pound. OUCH!!!!

When I found my local guys I asked about prices. NICE!!! Here, it’s copper no matter the size or grade! The price goes up and down with the current market. BUT! I have yet to pay more than $3 a pound.

Today! I’m going to show you approximately how much copper, brass and steel wire you can buy for only $3!!!

I PROMISE, if you love copper, you will love this!!!


First let’s look at some copper I bought recently.


Yes, this cost me a fortune. BUT! Not compared to a store front price!



This little bit cost me $24, one week ago, and it's 14 gauge.

This bucket full I bought several months ago at only $2 a pound!  The small coils are 14 gauge and the long "mess" is 20 gauge.

These are the gauges I use to tell what size any wire is.   I worked 25 years outside for power and telephone.

When you insert a wire into the slot, it should fit nicely.   This is 10 gauge wire.

This wire is 14 gauge.

I forget exactly, but I spent about $55 on all this.

Now, let's see how much I paid per foot!!!

Let's measure and weigh this coil.

14 gauge

7 strands that are about 74 inches each strand.

That's 518 inches or 43' 2" total.

I left it in a coil for easier weighing.  It weighs 7.9 ounces.


At last weeks price of $3 per pound and this coil being 1/2 a pound. 

It only cost me $1.50 for 43 feet of 14 gauge copper.

How are we doing so far???  Are you following what I'm saying?  I hope so.  If not, drop me an email!!!! 

Right now I can buy a 250 foot coil, of this same wire, at my local, large hardware store for $85.  That's not too bad.  But, that's 34 cents per foot. 

Go there and you get almost 5 feet of wire for $1.50.

Go to my local recycler and you get 43 feet of that same wire for $1.50.

HUM!!!  I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's try this again only with steel!!!

This is a coil of wire I bought 2 years ago from the telephone company's investment and recovery contractor.  They get every thing the phone company wants to get rid of.  These guys then take that and part it out, scrap it or sell it to the public.  Their choice.  I love these guys.  I've been going there for 8 to 10 years???  Some thing like that.  They've come a long ways and are easy to deal with.

I've been using this spool off and on this past summer.  It's not full, but close.  This is the wire that holds the telephone cables up in the air between utility poles.  It's either steel or stainless steel.  This roll happens to be steel.  Let's see what it cost me!!! 

OH!  Are you ready to cry???  Don't go any farther until you find a box of Kleenex!!!!  It's okay.  I'll wait for ya!!!

This coil weighs 2 pounds 8 1/2 ounces.

First let me say,,, some one can't add!  OH!  That would be ME!

So, this next bit on steel wire,,, if you read this once, then noticed the footage has changed.  That would be because I oopsed big time!  Sorry!  STILL!  This is an amazing deal.


Trying to figure out exactly how much wire is on here is nearly impossible.  BUT!  I do promise there is a minimum of 400 feet on this coil.  I figured that by weighing the full coil, then weighing 10 individual rounds off that coil.  Each single round was 12.5 inches.  Then I did the math and came up with over 420 feet.  HUM????  Probably.  I retired nearly 5 years ago and I was thinking we ordered these at work in giant rolls of some where around 5000 or 10,000 feet.  DANG!  Wish I still worked there!!!  :)  HA!  I lied!!!!


2 years ago I paid 3 cents per pound for this coil.  I bought a couple.  That's all they had!  You see, this isn't some thing they get in every day.

This whole coil cost me about 10 cents!!!

Today this would have cost me about   30 cents!!!


Okay! Shall we move on to brass wire?

You bet 'cha!

This is a small bit of the 14 gauge brass wire I bought nearly a year ago.

I measured and weighed, in grams, a single coil of the brass wire.

Then I weighed, in grams, these 2 small coils together.

Then I remembered this would weigh enough to look at it in ounces.

So!  Let's see how I did here!!!!  READY???  Smile,  now you know where to find some of this stuff!!!

Now you need to know that the price of brass today and one year ago are different!  YEP!  It's cheaper today!!!! 

Last year it was $2.25 a pound.  This year ,,,, only $2 per pound!  So, I paid too much... :) !!! 


A single coil measured about 16 inches long and there were a little more than 24 coils.  The coils weighed in at 6.6 ounces.  SO!  That's 384 inches plus.   At $2.25 per pound OR 14 cents per ounce... 

I got 32 feet of 14 gauge brass wire for 93 cents!!!

There's a lot more of that here and I'm working on getting some more steel wire!  YUM! 

I go through a lot of wire when I hang things like this!

That's 10 gauge copper running through the middle of all that driftwood and recycled wine and beer bottle glass!
Around here, any thing "beachy" and fun sells!
I hope you get some good ideas on how and where to buy wire at.  I try to make art with affordable prices.  When you're using copper wire than can be hard.  Unless you find a good deal.  Then, every one wins!!!

Do your self a favor and look into any metal recyclers you may have in your area.  If you find one close by, go visit them.  Ask what they have that you can buy.  Then!  Do like I do.  Clean out any thing and every thing you own that's metal and you're ready to get rid of.  Take it in, sell it to them, then buy your new wire with "their" money!

If you've followed the last few weeks of this blog, you know that Joy and I have been picking up aluminum cans just for fun to see how much money there is out there.  WELL!  Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning Joy and I walked 10 blocks and we now have 2 full 30 gallon trash bags of smashed cans!!!  WEE HAW! 

That should add up to about $14. 

Make that $14 worth of wire!!!  :)

If you need any help or have any questions, please drop me a note!  I'll help in any way I can.

Thanks for stopping by and have a good one! Shelley


  1. I have loved all of these posts about buying and selling at the metal junk yard - lots of great info! I need to come with you to this place...the picture you had in the previous post of the mattress springs...I need them!!! We need to figure out a day and time...I'm even collecting metal scrap that I can trade...or add to your bucket as payment for my initiation fee!

  2. Hi Amy! My truck is loaded right now for tomorrow. I would love for you to come with me or any time you're ready. Bring your scrap with you. You are more than welcome to the bed springs. Although! They will cost you a fortune! HA! :) Just come get them. Payment to go??? With me??? HUM!!! Let me see. I'm thinking you could bring me a couple old pennies. The wheat or steel ones. That'd be perfect payment. Thanks!!! Shell

  3. Great tips! Lucky for me, I have some wire that we haven't hauled to recycle yet. I'm gonna keep it now.

  4. If you can use it at all,,, don't get rid of it. It's so expensive to replace it. Have a great day! Shell

  5. I can't thank you enough for this post! I supply some of my jewelry making with distressed metal from parking lots (run over, flattened and rusted pieces) but, it never occurred to me to look in recycling centers! I looked on line for local centers and found a bunch. I can hardly wait to explore and buy!!

    June 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    1. I am very happy to hear that! You go get 'em!!! AND!!! While you are there, get friendly with them. If you are lucky,,,, you'll get to go over where all the bins of other great parts are... their used brass sections are to die for! OHHHHH! The goodies I find there ... YUM! Have fun.... let me know if it works out for you. I sure hope so! Shelley

  6. so what state do u live in ?

    i work in the field for the phn company
    and we have huge bins full of discarded wire
    but ud have to strip it

    1. How fun! I live in Washington state. I worked telephone here for 34 years. 4 of them building telephones,25 of them as an installer, trouble shooter and splicer. LOVED IT. Hope you do too. I buy my wire from the phone company's recycle center or a local metal recycler. It's so cheap that way. And it's real, not coated with plastic. Thanks though!!!

  7. I am very thankfull to provide such a great information about the copper wire.keep it up..

    1. Thank you. I hope it helped you find some great wire at a great price!

  8. Can someone not working for the phone company get those gauge tools? Where?

    1. Yes you can. If you have a favorite bead shop,,, stop by and ask if they have one. If not, here is a link to a beadshop I like ... kind of. You have to be careful of what you buy here. Most of their stuff comes from China. But, I love some of their stuff. You should find a link to a wire gauge tool here: http://www.shipwreckbeads.com/search/?txtSearchTerms=wire+gauge+tool&txtSearchType=and&ThanksToIE=SoCmdButtonIsSentForFormsWith1TextField&cmdSearch.x=0&cmdSearch.y=0 This would work great. You can find these at most jewelry supply or bead supply shops. Search using the words WIRE GAUGE TOOL. I hope that helps. If not, drop me another note and we'll try again. Thanks so much for asking! Take care. Shelley

    2. By the way ... they shouldn't be too expensive. The link above costs $15.99. Not bad. :)

    3. Has anyone thought about reducing the larger gauges like 6g. Use a butane torch and head set up. You can get IT at a home center like Home Depot or Lowe's. Hand or tool straighten wire. Then heat the large wire. The brings it to dead soft. Then when it is still quite hot, pull it through a wire reducer. Do this repeatedly, reducing to the smallest size gauge you want. It has to be heated, pulled then quenched before each reduction. You'll get more length in the Guage you want to make jewelry with. Pulling it through the next smallest reduction hole hardens the wire. So, don't forget to torch it prior to each reduction.

    4. Honestly ... nope! That sounds like a lot of work. I'm basically lazy. When there are several huge boxes of old copper wire already patina'd and waiting to come home with me. NOPE! I'll just take the size I can get and work with it. Thank you though. I might just try that for fun.