View Full Version : Cast Iton Blocks

Dick Payne
10-03-2002, 08:05 PM
Can anyone out there tell me where to buy small cast iron blocks, discs and plates?
I live in southern california and would like to find a good source of good bubble free cast iron. I have used free weights purchased at the sporting good stores to make backing plates for lathe chucks but would like to build some accessories from block material.


10-04-2002, 12:50 AM
Never thought of weights as cast iron source. Once made a back plate from a shoe type brake drum, but the modern stuff is too large Id and too small hub od.

What kind of quality is in a weight?

10-04-2002, 12:51 AM
www.mscdirect.com (http://www.mscdirect.com) Do a search for
gray iron and at the bottom of the list of
finds is 'materials' with discs, plates and
rods and bars. Current catalog ('01-'02)
has this on page 2033 but their web site has nails and screws on this page (?'03). This
is close to CI. They also have a smaller
selection of ductile iron shapes. Steve

10-04-2002, 01:28 AM
There is also www.metalmart.com (http://www.metalmart.com)

I just received a cast iron disk from them today to make a backplate for a collet chuck. It's a 5" dia disk, 1" thick for $15.30 shipping included. Nice looking metal and it comes slightly over sized for finishing. It actually measures 5.18" dia and 1.1" thick.
They carry flats (2.25x3.25), rounds (7") and squares (4.5").

10-04-2002, 01:47 AM
I've used dumbell (20lbs) weights for projects and you get a fair bit of metal for the money. The ones that I got are cast steel, and they machine very nicely. Good items to pickup at garage sales.


Dick Payne
10-04-2002, 03:37 AM
Thanks for the leads, I will check them out.

I used free weights for two back plates for chucks on my Smithy 1220 3 in 1 machine.
I machined them down from 7" to 6" and surfaced both sides. There were a few hard spots and a few air pockets but not a problem for a backing plate. I liked the way that cast iron machines but it is very messy so I set up the shop vac and sucked up most of the dust as I was machining the parts. The center hole is one inch dia. and the cost was about $6 each.

I also used a free weight for the base of a sewing lamp I made for my wife. It helps a lot to use the toys in the garage to make something for the wife once in a while.


10-04-2002, 09:19 AM
The cast iron from MSC is good. If you can find a local distributor of Dura-Bar, it may be cheaper than ordering by mail unless the distribultor's cutoff charge is high or they have a high minimum order.

10-04-2002, 10:10 AM
Yeah, it does help make for a more harmonious marriage if the wife sees the husband emerge from the dungeon(my wife's term for my shop). Especially if you have in your hand something you made for the little lady. Doubly so, if it's something she actually needs and you saved yourselves some money in the process. "See, honey, I told you we NEEDED that table saw."
Freeweights never crossed my mind. I'll have to remember those. I'm going to make some faceplates and driving plates frome some 1/2" 6061-T6 plate my buddy got for free as scrap. It'll do just fine for my little 7x12. I'm not that impressed with the faceplate I bought for it(mistake). So I figure I can make one better and more suitable for my needs.

10-04-2002, 03:23 PM
I've had no dealings with them personally, but I'm looking at an article by D.E. Johnson in one of the Metal Working books, and he cites the following as a small order source for cast iron:
Western Iron Alloys
15946 Downey Ave
Paramount CA 90723
ph: (213) 408-2390

Don't know when that article was first published, but he does say they'll cut to size.

I recently saw another source for small cast iron orders listed by Guy Lautard in one of his MBR books. Don't have that at hand right now but will try to look tonite and post that. Seems like it was in Illinois.

Dick Payne
10-04-2002, 05:05 PM
Thanks guys for the additional input.
I found a supplier that had flame cut rounds of 1/2" Hot rooled steel as waste from something they fabricate for a customer. I only paid a few cents a pound for them and made a face plate with it. It was not easy to cut near the torch cut edge.

I had tried to locate on the enternet the one mentioned in Guy Lautards book but did not try to call them. That is when I decided to try this web site. I just tried to locate Western Iron Alloys on the enternet and could not find them. I will have to try calling them.
The MCS direct catalog has gray iron bars but you have to buy a 36" bar of the size you want and it is in the $100's + range.
Your suggestion of metalmart is excellant for small sizes. It can get a little pricy but does include shipping so is not too bad.
Does anyone know of a source for large blocks of cast iron say 8"X8"X8"?
Thanks again guys for you help.


10-04-2002, 06:35 PM
Dudes, what's with the weights thing?

Backplate castings are as low as $13 from Victor Machinery and others, really nice material, cuts nicely, no voids, etc.

Weights are just supposed to have weight, no other property is important. So quality of casting is really variable.

I have heard of old sash weights used as CI bar stock also, but good materials save time and sweat, and when they are reasonably inexpensive besides, how can you lose?

Al Messer
10-04-2002, 07:47 PM
I tried using some old window weights for a CI source once upon a time but it was mostly silica/silicone/glass/hard stuff and couldn't be used, however, some fellows tell me that usually it is a good source. I gues I was just unlucky.

Thanks for the sources mentioned in the above postings.

10-05-2002, 09:08 AM
Nah, sashweights are usually junk, unless you're really lucky. Not worth the trouble.

According to an old gent who had the background to know about such things, iron foundries would keep a bunch of molds for sashweights ready on the pouring floor. Then, when they skimmed off the dross or had the dregs of a pour, guess where it went. Sashweights were the dump. Not always, of course; if they ended up with more iron than they needed for what they were really making, it too would go into sashweights and you might get a few made of decent iron. But that wasn't the norm.

I suppose if you have some sashweights lying around it's worth experimenting to see what you've got, but odds are they will be junk.

Al Messer
10-05-2002, 11:28 AM
I agree.


Dick Payne
10-05-2002, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the info on Victor. I checked them out and they have a 6" rough for $12.50 and many other sizes. The lowest cost one I knew of was $41 at ENCO. The difference is that the Enco back plate is 1" thick and the Victor one is 1/2" thick. Part of my problem is not planning ahead. The first time I made a backing plate from a free weight was when I had just received a chuck purchased on ebay. I wanted to mount it quickly and didn't want to wait for a week to receive one by mail order and my local machinery dealer wanted $91 for their 6" rough backing plate. I thought of a free weight and thought I would try it. I could also go down to Big 5 sporting goods and get it at 8:30 at night. The first one I bought had no flaws. It was perfect. The second one had a few air bubbles and a few hard spots. The other factor is that I am a bargin hunter type so this fit into my pattern. I was really surprised that Grizzly didn't have backing plates in their catalog along with their chucks. They usually have good prices on Chinese import tools.
Thanks again for the lead.


10-05-2002, 01:26 PM
I liberated a couple of window sash wts from someones trash pile 2 or 3 months back. I hacksawed one and eventually got it cleaned up on the lathe... harder'n 'all-get-out'.
A few weeks later when I got my H/V bandsaw and tried sawing the other, I got about 3/8" deep into it and that's all. Could penetrate no further. I could tell the mold halves were misaligned at the parting line when these were cast, and there was extensive 'flash' at the parting line. Was obvious no great care had gone into the casting process.

10-05-2002, 01:51 PM
I have used pipe flanges for chuck backs. They come in cast, ductile, and steel. They machine nice, no hard spots.150 and 300 lb.Reducing flanges are better dimension wise.The cast ones you have to ring so they are not cracked.

11-14-2002, 11:34 PM
McMaster-Carr supply Company Los Angeles Ca.
has gray cast iron in bar stock, rounds,
squares and rectangular bars and flat stock.
bars are solid or cored your choice.

The bars i have bought have good made good
quality rings, pistons and cylinders.

john in san diego

11-15-2002, 12:04 AM
Have you thought about using rail road clets, those plates that spike the rail to?
They are plentiful and many times very free. I use them around my forge for cooling plates for hot items and I have a few things from them.