Forget Recycling That Scrap, Transform it into a New Item
If you happen to have a pile of scrap lying around, you might be wondering what, if anything, you can actually do with it. You could dispose of, or sell it, but another option is to turn that scrap into something new.
Perhaps, you can take some inspiration from the Mad Max universe and make that scrap into some apocalyptic weaponry. Let's take a look at some creative (yet dangerous) options!
But, before we begin, a little disclaimer. We will be showcasing some examples of weapons made from scrap metal in this article. This should in no way be considered an endorsement for making DIY weapons at home. Depending on where you live in the world, you should check if making your own weaponry is legal before even attempting to do so. Be safe!
Can you make weapons from scrap metal?
For anyone who is a fan of games like Fallout, you might be wondering if you could actually make weapons from scrap metal. Since you can just pick up a steel pipe and instantly have a makeshift club, the answer should not come as a surprise to anyone.
In Syria, for example, something of a cottage industry emerged in the wake of many countries' reluctance to arm opposition forces. Bombs, blades, and gas bottle rockets are some of the prime examples seen during the conflict. Other examples include improvised bomb catapults, mortar shells, even remote-controlled gun platforms. All of these have been made by Syrian rebels from anything they can get their hands on.
Other, arguably far more brutal DIY weapons, were a common scene during the Ukrainian Revolution between 2013 and 2014. Sticks, bats, sledgehammers, spiked mauls, and makeshift flails and maces were among some of the more commonly made weapons used during the uprising.
“You couldn’t help but notice the DIY nature of the whole thing, from the barricades themselves to the totally inadequate body armor that people were wearing, and the weapons as well. It looked like something out of Mad Max, it was crazy,” said photographer Tom Jamieson in an interview at the time.
Ultimately, that uprising was successful in its goal to topple the ruling government of the time. It is unclear how much the DIY weapons used contributed to that outcome.
Hopefully, most of you reading this live in a more stable situation. So why would you need to make your own weapons? Why for the hell of it, of course.
What are some examples of weapons made from scrap?
If you are looking for some inspiration for making your own weapons from scrap, then you've come to the right place. Here we've chosen an eclectic mix of melee and projectile weapons for your perusal. The list also includes weapons made from a variety of scrap materials ranging from metal to plastic.
As previously mentioned, this list is only for demonstrative purposes and is not intended to be an endorsement for making such weapons.
1. You can actually make a slingshot from an old piston
One of the most impressive things you can make from scrap metal includes, believe it or not, a pretty powerful slingshot. In fact, the very design of a piston rod is, when you think about it, absolutely perfect for the task.
By stripping down the piston, and modifying it with some leather and surgical tubing, you can actually produce one of the best-looking slingshots we've ever seen. The process is actually relatively simple, and we even have a short guide to take you through the process.
2. This artisan can make teeny-tiny swords, shields, and knives from scrap metal
Using old nails and other bits of scrap metal, and a little skill, you too can make a series of tiny weapons like the ones pictured above. You'll need to work the metal with files, saws, drill presses, and sandpaper, but the final products are simply stunning.
Of course, these tiny weapons couldn't really be used in real life, but they are quite beautiful in their own way. If you want to try to make some for yourself, you can follow this simple guide.
3. These swords will prepare you for the zombie apocalypse
The best part about making new stuff, like weapons, from scrap metal is that you can make some truly unique items. Take these swords made using transmission parts from an old Suzuki FWD car, for example.
The use of gears as the hilt of the sword is a very nice detail. The creator of these swords fashioned the blades from lengths of scrap metal, cut and shaped using an angle grinder.
The blades themselves are also not just for show. Using the angle grinder again to actually sharpen the edges, these blades are able to cut through pieces of wood and old computer towers.
Just imagine the damage they'd do to some zombies!
4. You can make a decent blade from steel cable
Scrap steel cable, if you can get your hands on some, is simply perfect for making good-quality knives. Steel cables tend to be made of braided steel, and, once uncoiled, can be heated and used to form blades.
The steel used in steel cables tends to be made from non-alloy, high-carbon steel, which is great for making strong knives. Any blade made from this high-quality steel will be last a long time, but you will need to take good care of it to prevent rusting, so be diligent.
Apparently, old elevator cables work just as well.
As to where to find scrap steel cable, your choices can be limited. Some of the best places are construction sites or junkyards. If you can't find any scrap stuff, you can buy some lengths of steel cable from hardware stores or on the internet.
5. You can make a simple bow from scrap PVC pipes
Did you know you can actually make a half-decent bow from a length of old PVC pipe? While it won't have the power of a properly crafted bow, it is much quicker, and easier, to make.
To make one, you'll obviously need to get your hands a piece of PVC pipe - 1-inch (2.54cm) to 1.5-inch (3.81cm) will suffice. Cut a 4-foot (122cm) length of it, or longer, and cut grooves into the end of the pipe to hold the string. You'll also need something like a length of fiberglass rod to insert in the middle of the PVC pipe to make it robust.
Find some other material for the string, something like mason wire, for example, and tie two separate loops and lengths of it around each end of the pipe. Next, gently bend the pipe into a shallow curve, you can then tie the two pieces of string together to form the bowstring.
It is a little more complex than that, but you get the basic idea.
Unless you have ready-made arrows, you can make some of these too. All you really need is something pointy for the arrowhead, something long and straight for the shaft, and something to use for the fletchings.
Nails, screws, etc, are fine for the heads, and fletchings can be made from things like feathers, cardboard, plastic, etc. Obviously, these won't be the best quality ammo for the bow, but they will serve at short range.
6. You can turn an old wrench into an awesome sword
As you can see, you can pretty much make a weapon out of any old piece of metal, or other material, with a bit of lateral thinking. Another potential option is to make swords or blades made from old, common tools like adjustable wrenches.
You'll obviously need a fairly long-handled wrench, but with a little effort, you can create what might be one of the coolest looking swords you've ever seen. The jaws of the wrench work perfectly for making the sword hilt and handle, and you can shape and sharpen the handle into a blade fairly easily with tools like angle grinders.
Getting your hands on a suitably sized adjustable wrench shouldn't be too much trouble either. If you can't get your hands on a scrap one, you can always buy yourself a new one online or from a hardware store.
You can make similar weapons from other common workshop torque-based tools like tire irons or combination wrenches too. Happy days,
7. Fancy making an Airsoft gun from scrap?
From a less-lethal point of view, you can also make other weapons from scrap materials relatively easily. One example is this Airsoft gun.
By combining some common scrap materials, like a plastic bottle, you too can be the envy of your friends. This particular piece runs directly off a compressed air line that powers an air compressor blow gun and uses brake lines and other parts.
Most of these can, in theory, be found as scrap, but you may need to actually buy some of the materials from a hardware store. Whatever the case, the total build should cost only around $15 or so.
The build is fun and relatively easy, but the power of the piece, once built, is very impressive indeed.
8. This spud gun rifle is very impressive
Another interesting weapon made from scrap materials is this gas-powered potato gun. The weapon is actually surprisingly powerful and can be made from some very common materials you probably have lying around the house anyway.
To build something like this, you'll need an old plastic bottle, some plastic piping, some metal for the bolt, wood for the body of the gun, and a piezoelectric trigger.
The build isn't too taxing and can be done with very few tools beyond basic power tools.
To use such a contraption, you'll need to fill the main reservoir bottle with butane, connect it to the main gun, load some ammunition (darts or pieces of potato), and pull the trigger. From there the gun works similar to a basic spark lighter that ignites the butane and forces the projectile out of the end of the barrel.
Simple, yet incredibly effective.
9. You can turn an old shovel into some throwing stars
If you have an old unloved shovel lying around, you might want to consider converting it into something far cooler - throwing stars, called Shuriken in Japanese. The process is relatively simple and the weapons can be made from any scrap metal you might be able to get your hands on.
To make them, sketch out the design of the star on a piece of paper and then transfer the design to the donor metal. Score or punch the rough design onto the metal, and drill any holes needed to make the cutting process easier.
Grab a hacksaw or angle grinder and cut the shapes out. Once done, sharpen the edges of the star arms using your angle grinder and sand down as needed.
If you want to make the star edges as keen as possible, you'll want to sharpen them using a knife grinder or whetstone. Once complete, you'll have yourself some impressive-looking weapons.
10. One of the most basic weapons made from scrap is a spiky bat
One of the simplest weapons you can create is a club. You can make them from very common materials, especially scrap stuff, in a very short period of time. The club itself can be made from any length of timber you can get your hands on. To make the thing a lot nastier, you can then use some old nails or other lengths of metal.
For best results, you'll want to find something like an old baseball bat and some long nails. To make the spiky bit, drill some holes directly across the diameter of the business end of the bat. The more the better.
Once done, take your nails or screws, or both, and either hammer or screw them through each of the holes. Ensure that the head of the nail or screw is flush with the bat.
To make the spiky bat even more impressive, consider wrapping it in barbed wire too. Once done, your new spiky bat is now ready to show off. Now just keep it handy in case some critical failure in civilization returns us to the stone age.
11. You can even make a simple cannon from scrap metal
Believe it or not, but you can actually make a basic cannon using scrap metal too. You will need some basic welding equipment and knowledge, and some other metalworking tools, but the process isn't too difficult.
This particular cannon is basically a little toy, but it does fire using real gunpowder and is potentially quite dangerous if used incorrectly. So bear that in mind.
To make this one, you'll need some 1-inch (2.54cm) diameter, thick-walled metal piping, some pipe valves, and other pieces of scrap metal sheet. You'll first need to cut down the pipe to the length you want for the barrel, and then reinforce the breach end with a slightly larger ring of pipework. These will need to be welded together.
Next, the main carriage of the cannon is made from pieces of sheet metal cut down to size and welded together and to the barrel. The wheels are made from some old gas valves attached by a length of steel rod.
Ignition is performed through a small hole drilled into the top-rear of the barrel that can accommodate a length of fuse cord. This cannon is muzzle-loaded, so you'll need to add a gunpowder cartridge, wadding, and a projectile, in much the same fashion as a full-scale cannon.
Obviously, take great care when doing this. Then just plonk in the fuse, light it, and stand well back. Great fun, but ensure you use this responsibly and safely, and well away from any people or buildings.
12. You can make a perfectly serviceable axe from an old circular saw blade
IF you can get your hands onto an old circular saw blade, you could make yourself a pretty awesome-looking axe. Like some other weapons detailed above, you will need some other bits and bobs like a length of wood, but these should be fairly easy to source.
With the circular saw itself, you have a few options to choose from in order to turn it into an axe. For example, you can simply cut a notch in the top of the length of wood to secure the blade completely to the end of the wood. This will give you a pretty fearsome double-headed axe with little to no effort.
For those feeling a little more adventurous, you can sketch out a design for the axe head on the circular saw blade and cut it out using an angle grinder or hack saw. You will then need to create a means of attaching the blade to your handle of choice.
Whichever method you choose, you will also likely need to secure the circular saw blade with some nails or bolts.
13. One of the simplest weapons to make from scrap is a spear
One of our species' earliest-ever weapons, a basic spear can be made from many different materials. All you really need is a long length of something, like wood, and something hard, like scrap metal, that you can sharpen and stick at the end. Of course, you always just sharpen the end of a wooden stick to make a very rudimentary spear too.
Great materials to use for the spear tip include things like shovel blades, old knives, or any other pieces of metal. The process of making a spear is pretty easy, but you can cut some corners by finding suitable pieces of scrap.
Old broomsticks, for example, make excellent spear shafts. Alternatively, you could consider an old length of metal pipe or even hard plastic ones. Whichever material you use for the shaft, you'll need to modify it to attach the spear tip too.
This will usually require you to cut a notch along the length of one end of the shaft to insert the spear tip in too. If not already serviceable, you'll likely need to cut and sharpen the spear tip. You may even get lucky and find some scrap railings you could use for the tips.
Then all you need to do is insert the spear tip into the shaft and secure it in place with nails or screws, or strong tape/wire. Pretty simple, and a very effective weapon - as human history tells us.
14. You can actually make a shotgun from scrap, sort of
Firearms are a common DIY scrap metal project, but most need some significant investment in time and effort to make. However, there are some kits that allow you to use common materials, like scrap pipework, to actually build a functional firearm.
One example is a kit that comes from a company called "Runway Sub-Cal." The kit provides you with the barrel, firing pin, and outer barrel sleeve, but the rest of the gun needs to be made yourself from other bits and pieces - essentially common length, nipples, joints, and other plumbing parts.
The process is so easy, in fact, that once all the materials are in hand a complete pipe shotgun can be built in around 15 minutes.
By all accounts, the process is relatively straightforward and the final piece is pretty effective, all things considered.
15. You can even make a rocket launcher from scrap
And finally, perhaps one of the best things to make from scrap (metal or plastic) is a rocket launcher. While the actual rockets might be a little harder to make yourself, the launcher itself isn't too taxing.
Depending on the type of projectile you plan on firing from it, you can use either an old length of uPVC or metal for the job. One interesting example was made using scrap metal pipes to make the firing tube, handles, and internal firework holder. The creator managed to then rig up a gas cylinder to an electrical ignition trigger to light the firework with the flick of a switch.
Then, after waiting a few seconds, the firework can whizz out of the front of the rocket launcher and the exhaust vents out of the rear - just like a real rocket launcher. The piece really looks the business and is great fun to wield, by all accounts.
Of course, like many weapons on this list, such a build should only be attempted if you feel confident to do so safely.
Where is the best place to find scrap metal?
If the above examples of scrap metal weapons have whetted your appetite to have a go yourself, you might be wondering where the best place to knab some scrap? The answer to this really does depend on what kind of things you are after.
You probably have some scrap metal around your house, for example.
But for materials like car parts, like for the slingshot above, you'll most likely need to visit your local breaker's yard. You'll need to pay them for any parts you want to take, but you might get lucky. You'll also usually, though not always, need to remove the parts you need yourself, so come prepared with tools. You can also try automobile shops or mechanics workshops. But, as with building contractors, many garages will have a deal with local scrap dealers, so ask them nicely – or offer to buy it.
For things like metal piping, angled iron, I-beams, sheet metal, etc, one of the best places to look are construction sites - though you should obviously ensure you ask permission to take anything away. Often, though not always, construction or demolition companies will price the sale of scrap into their project pricing. Though anything you can find in general waste skips is usually fair game.
Also, make sure that any scrap metal from construction sites is actually safe to take. For example, it may be contaminated with toxic substances or other materials hazardous to your health. While these should be dealt with appropriately by the contractors managing the site, it can't help to be too careful.
The internet can also be your friend here too. Many social media platforms will have groups where members often post requests to pick up and take away scrap stuff. Trawl these sites to see what you can find.
If you are after brass stuff, like shell casings, shooting ranges are a good place to get your hands on some. Depending on the range in question, people are usually allowed to go inside the shooting area to pick up stuff but, obviously, ask for permission and never enter the range when in use.
Hospitals are also another good place to get some scrap metal. Many hospitals tend to throw away old items like beds, wheelchairs, and sometimes furniture. As with construction/demolition sites, ensure you ask permission first.
If all else fails, you could always go house to house in your local neighborhood. Old appliances, post-construction waste, etc, are usually always available to a lesser or greater degree. While potentially embarrassing for you, remember that the scrap is going to be put to good use.
Alternatively, you can also check dumpsters. While not the most glamorous activity, you can often find scrap metal of some kind in them. Again, always ask permission.
And finally, and usually a long shot, you can always try to find some scrap metal at recycling centers. While most tend to have very strict policies on such things, ask the staff. You might get lucky.
And that, scrap-metal hunters, is your lot for today. Weapons are only one way of giving scrap materials a new lease in life. Chances are that now you'll never look at a piece of scrap metal the same way ever again.
Who knows what kind of weapon it could be turned into?