One of the major problems any Steampunk craftsman or maker runs into is a good source of Steampunk parts to make steampunk objects from. While you can find pipes, nuts, bolts etc at any local big box store those are only a piece of the puzzle. To be a good Steampunk craftsman you're going to need a good supply of Steampunk parts in many different types of objects, both new and old. I've put together a list of my favorite spots to look for Steampunk parts below, as well as some of the auctions I watch for Steampunk parts
Antique stores are great sources for your base Steampunk item. While you can craft entire Steampunk pieces from scratch, I find working on older vintage items and adding Steampunk parts to them to create something entirely new is what I end up doing most. Now this doesn't mean just slapping a few gears and time pieces on with some duct tape and soldering iron. To create a true Steampunk crafted item you need to take your time and apply some hand loving craftsmanship to each piece. The finished piece should look like it was made as one, and not combined. Antique stores offer you a great way to experience vintage pieces in person versus buying online. Each piece will have its own feel. Search around each store and go back often as dealers will usually change up their booths if its a multi vendor store. Get to know the vendors, they have sources that they can go to for specific items if you are looking for something in particular - and usually give you a good price!
Online shops have become a great resource for Steampunk parts over the past few years. There are a lot of options out there so be sure to do your homework and find an online Steampunk shop that you can trust. If you are in the gears and time pieces market make sure to look at the weights and number of pieces for each bundle you buy. You want to purchase bundles that have a good variety of different pieces, but have enough weight that your going to be able to weld them into whatever Steampunk piece you might be working on. One of my favorite shops is Steampunk Shop on eBay where you can find a ton of really good deals if you do some research you'll end up with a ton of Steampunk parts.
Yard sales can be a treasure trove of Steampunk parts or a colossal waste of time. Depending on where you live and the climate you can find yard sales year round or at least a good majority of the year. I find that yard sales are great places to find vintage clothing for super cheap prices as people want to get rid of items they no longer want laying around their house. Yard sales can be a great spot to pick up Steampunk gears and clocks for super cheap as well. I've found some old wall clocks that the sellers didn't want anymore and haggled them down to under 10$ per clock. Once those were safely home I dismantled and had plenty of gears for my other projects. When scouring yard sales for Steampunk items be sure to keep a mind for what is inside of an item and not as a whole. Most Steampunk projects require the ripping apart of several items to create something completely new. Do your homework here too if you have a big enough city where the news paper lists yard sale contents. This will be a huge help in time savings.
Your attic or basement
(more precisely your grand parents)
If you're lucky enough to still have grandparents alive and well be sure to visit them and learn about their past. If they have older items that don't have a ton of sentimental value ask if you might be able to have them for your Steampunk projects. Be sure to ask about how they came into posession of the object and its history. Having a story and background of your Steampunk creation is just as important as the craftsmanship you put into it. Revitalizing an older object and breathing new life into it is as top notch as it gets. So be sure to take some time and explore the past with your elders!
Resource / Reuse Shops
With the global warming and environment much more on people's minds the past few years, there has been a surge in the number of reclamation and reuse shops springing up across the nation and world. This is not only a good thing for the planet and an effort that I highly support, but it is a gold mine for Steampunk craftsman that are searching for unique and interesting older Steampunk parts. I find myself going to a reuse shop at least once a month to pick over items and see what is new. Depending on the volume of the shop you frequent you may want to adjust your visiting schedule so that you can time your visit to the new arrivals. Most shops will get a weekly turnover if they are near a major city. Dig deep, look in nooks and crannies you'll find some great items for your Steampunk projects. A lot of shops will even let you take pieces off of larger items as they want to make sales however they can. Don't be afraid to ask for the hardware off of a cabinet if you find something you like - they'll probably sell it to you! The best part about these types of shops is that they are usually cheap, and sometimes go to a great cause. Habit for Humanity for example has a reuse store in many locations, proceeds go to a great charity!
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