View Full Version : Steel prices are crazy

Mike W
03-08-2004, 11:19 PM
I bought some remnants today. Plate and angle is $.55 a pound. Tubing is $.75 a pound. The guy expected at least $.05 higher next week. Maybe I should take up basket weaving.

03-08-2004, 11:31 PM
I think its time you started to go through the dumpsters and recycle the steel that other throw away.

03-08-2004, 11:49 PM

Welcome to global economy.

Actually $.55 is not bad. We were paying more than that a year or two ago for cold rolled round bar in ton quantities.

Soon we can expect shortages of certain metal types, alloys and sizes.

Practically all metals are skyrocketing, I'm surprised the media have not picked up on this issue. It'll be interesting seeing Bush explain this since the consumer goods will be hitting the shelves just about election time with prices reflecting the increased material costs. Let's see him wiggle out of this one by diverting attention with his constitutional amendment nonsense.

J Tiers
03-08-2004, 11:59 PM
AS if ANY president affects that. it wouldn't change if Clinton came back. That's just economics, with the largest consumer society on earth just opening up.

Wait till they start buying oil.

Gas will be $20 per liter, in the US.

03-09-2004, 12:07 AM
I am not sure about $20 a litre for gas, but my steel cost have gone up a little here and a little there. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//mad.gif

Some show said that the American gas prices could be as high as $3.00 a gallon by the end of summer, isn't about what the English pay currently? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif


03-09-2004, 12:13 AM
I heard a very interesting analysis of the North American economy on the CBC this afternoon. The gentleman they interviewed said that a cycle of inflation and rising interest rates in the near future is all but inevitable. The subject is pretty far out of my bailiwick, but his reasoning seemed sound. A good friend of mine owns a company specializing in stainless steels and high temp alloys, and he told me prices would be going up a couple of months ago. I have a feeling that times are only just starting to get "interesting".

J Tiers
03-09-2004, 12:16 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by jfsmith:
I am not sure about $20 a litre for gas, but my steel cost have gone up a little here and a little there. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//mad.gif

Some show said that the American gas prices could be as high as $3.00 a gallon by the end of summer, isn't about what the English pay currently? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif


Well, as I understand it, they pay less than we do for the gas, the rest is taxes.

At the time, they paid $1.12 for the gas plus something over $3 for tax. We paid $1.25 for the gas, plus about $.05 to $.40 in tax, depending on state
and the local sales tax.

03-09-2004, 01:00 AM
I read that the Chinese are buying all the steel they can. I guess we'll have to live with high prices for a while.

03-09-2004, 01:01 AM
To a certain point it doesn't matter what the gas taxes go for, it's the over all cost of having transportation. If the taxes were going in to road improvement, that is one things, but U.S. roads are really terrible. Many states have never finished their freeway repairs that started in the late 50s and early 60s, they finish the highway system and then go back to where they began and start all over again.

Steel and alloys are going up, where is the relief we were promised when the U.S. terrifs were ended?


03-09-2004, 01:22 AM
I wonder if the scrap yards are paying any more for steel...last time I went I think they were giving $0.20 a TON for steel.

Thread Hijack Warning:

$3 a gallon by summer in California...as the Toyota Prius enters its fourth model year and a US car maker has yet to produce a production Hybrid. Seems like a strange deja vu...we're going through an American Muscle Car renaissance with factory superchargers, high winding V8's, and big displacement V10's. SUV's all over the place. And the Japanese are introducing small well engineered cars with excellent fuel economy. Shoot, if I were in diapers I'd think it was 1973. I hope the Japanese open more North American plants to support the global market they're about to dominate...it seems like it took about twenty years to catch up to the Japanese in efficient, affordable, everyday type of cars.

03-09-2004, 11:06 AM
I was around in 73 and the times before, and I wasn't in diapers. I remember seeing the Chrysler Turbine car first hand, if it was liquid and would burn, this car could use it.

Piston engine technology is actaully more advanced than the cars on the road today. Anyone ever seen the B-36 bombers? They had 27 cyclinder radial engines and was a heavy load lifter type of plane.

The Japanese have looked ahead, instead of brut force SUVs and hi performace cars, they are following the mandates to build a comfortable car what gets great mileage and doesn't pollute as much as similar car.

Instead of introducing a new version of the T-Brid with a big engine, Ford should being working on mileage. GM instead of promoting the Hummers, should be making a car that holds 4 and gets 55 miles (30K per Litre) to the gallon. I no longer care about Chrysler, because they are back to bad business and vehicle that have serious problems, like the Durango.

I am not saying that American companies are bad, but they are giving the consumers what they want; gas guzzlers. The people need to be educated on these things. Chevy has a neat new pickup truck, but they also brought an updated version of the Geo Metro under the Chevy name.

I drive a Toyota, it's comfortable, gets great mileage and doesn't need a lot of servicing. I need a 1/2 ton pickup, which I will find one for the right price, but it will be used for when I need to pickup stuff, not as my everyday vehicle.


03-09-2004, 11:21 AM
JF. We already have high milage econo deathboxes. What the American automotive cosumer wants is an alternative energy full size pickup without the sacrifice of pulling performance.

The first comany that can come up with a fullsize suv/pu hybred/ alternative enegy vehicle will corner the market.

I have moved full sized Bridgeports in the bed of my F150. You can't do that on a minipickup.

03-09-2004, 12:20 PM
Yesterday at the end of my tour I stopped in a local watering hole for a few lagers. A friend of mine said that scrap prices are going nuts. He runs an auto repair shop and said that they just paids around $.60 a hundred for cast iron blocks and just under that for scrap sheet metal. The last time I sold any scrap it was around 2-3 cents a hundred for solids and less for dry turnings. Sort of like they just took them off my hands and gave me a few pennies for my time in bringing htem to the yard. It looks like it is time to check this out as I have several engine blocks that are beyond saving that are just parts pieces. If it is true Lukins Steel here I come.

03-09-2004, 12:52 PM
J Tiers wrote: "AS if ANY president affects that. it wouldn't change if Clinton came back. That's just economics, with the largest consumer society on earth just opening up."

He may not be responsible for the current situation, but he has had a major effect on the manufacturing/fabrication sector in recent times. His steel tariffs designed to prop up our steel industry turned out to be a disaster. According to the editorials in the trade mags the tariffs resulted in major job losses in manufacturing. In short, the tariffs were very ill conceived (by a dimwit).

American prestige abroad is at an all time low. The dollar is at a low. Not to mention the quagmire in Iraq.

All these are factors making conditions in this country less than we'd like them to be. Many of the above are due to the Bushies.

Al Messer
03-09-2004, 01:45 PM
Oh Neil, HELP!! Here we go again!!

Cecil Walker
03-09-2004, 01:50 PM
Just received notfication from some suppliers about their steel price increases, here is some of the bad news. All plate and sheet +50%, Hollow structural tubing +65%, Pipe and DOM tubing +10%, cold finished +25%, Hot Rolled angles, channels, flats and rounds +25%. No good news at all, received four (4) letters yesterday morning and expect more in the near future. This sounds like depressing times.

03-09-2004, 02:20 PM
jfsmith- I saw one of those Chrysler Turbine cars last March while doing some research (on an unrelated matter) at the Smithsonian's storage facility at Silver Hill, MD. It was in absolutely new condition. If I recall correctly, the conservator I was with said that the vehicle had issues with exhaust temperatures that made it unsafe. It was a nice full size car, the sound the door made when it was shut was like a bank vault closing.

03-09-2004, 04:47 PM
The price of metals is not high, at least not much higher than it has been in the last few years. Yes, the dollar amount you pay for metals has gone up, but it is not because the metal has become more valuable, it is because the value of the dollar is going down the drain.

As long as this country has an enourmous trade deficit, ballooning budget deficit, and insane tax and trade policies you can expect this trend to continue.

It may be a good idea to hedge against a further fall in the dollar by making large purchases of metal now. In fact this could also be a good investment. You don't have to buy the metal you will need in the future, just one that is convinient to store and sell, like gold, silver, platinum, etc. Then, in the future, you can buy the metals that you need for a particular project.

I was so mortified by the policies that I saw being implemented in the last few years, and the overvaluation of stocks, bonds, and real estate, that I went super conservative and put a large chunck of money into gold and precious metal about two years ago. Fortunately, that has proven to be a good hedge against the current financial insanity.

03-09-2004, 05:19 PM
A buddy of mine works for a steel supplier ad he said a couple of weeks ago that prices were going to rise because the stock was being bought up by China. A lot of building and rebuilding of cities are going on. Plus moving cities because of the 3 gorge dam project.

03-09-2004, 05:26 PM
I saw the Chrysler turbine car running once many years ago at Disney Land. It had the coolest engine sound. I would love to have a car that sounded like that. But, it was just about undriveable in stop and go traffic. The spoolup delay was on the order of seconds.

03-09-2004, 05:41 PM
Got Two pieces of Stressproof last week(C1144) One was 3/4" the other 2".~20' long each. Both round bar.$255.00

03-09-2004, 06:43 PM
Evan, yes spool up was a factor. I also seem to recall that slowing down was an issue as well, as there was no compression to slow the car when the accelerator was let off. By the way, I just recieved two lengths of DOM tubing, 1/2" ODx .125" wall x 48". The bill was $42.00. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif

03-09-2004, 06:53 PM
I just Ordered some 0-1 from KBC at old prices, noemally I only buy small orders from them, but right now it's getting the price and the delivery.


Peter S
03-09-2004, 07:21 PM
If you are interested in turbine cars, the RRHT has just published "Pistons to Blades Small gas turbine developments by the Rover Company" by Mark C S Barnard.

There are some interesting pages about the Chrysler cars, with driving experiences. There were several generations of these cars, around 130 bhp, acceleration and lag were not too bad, better than the Rover cars, but handling and brakes were woeful in comparison.

Also a bit about a FIAT turbine car, looks quite good, but you can't help noticing the huge exhaust pipe sticking straight out the back. The author comments that the car was not really intended to be practical, just a high-tech excercise "Not least amongst its problems would have been the large volume of exhaust air at 400* C swirling around the traffic and melting the stockings on pedestrians at crossings!"

03-09-2004, 08:31 PM
I have a friend in manufacturing here in Saskatoon, and yesterday he said they were expecting shortages and price increases also (information they received from one of their metal suppliers)...so it ain't just in the USA.

L Webb
03-09-2004, 09:15 PM
canonicalman, the value of the dollar isn't what is driving up the price of steel right now.
It is the supply, pure and simple.
One big problem is that all our mills here use scrap to produce new product. The Chinese are making their annual purchase of scrap.
Now if a scrap dealer can sell container loads to the Chinese for $235/ton or to a US mill for $150/ton, where do you think it is going to go?

I have at least 30,000lbs of HR scrap in the yard right now. Today I was quoted $110/ton for the scrap trains and $165/ton for my barrels of punchings.
I'm not through getting prices yet and I am in the drivers seat right now.
One guy offered me $160/ton for the scrap trains yesterday, but I don't know the guy. He offered $90/ton 2 weeks ago and $125/ton last week. I would probably never see the guy again if I let him take it.

The increases in the steel prices is hitting our customers hard. Makes it tough when a quote is good for 3 days maximum.


03-09-2004, 09:32 PM

I see your point on the cars, but I, for one, don't want Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Ford, GM, Chrysler, or anyone else telling me what I should buy and drive! I had enough of that with the 60's cars, than you too much.

The best system is free enterprise. Let me underscore the word free.

Anytime government intervenes and attempts to "level" the playing field it always bites us somewhere else if not up front in the groin.

Water seeks its own level, and if given unfettered access to the public, so too, will prices. The reason is simply due to the ultimate power of the consumer and his wallet.


03-09-2004, 09:56 PM
L Webb,

It is interesting that the Chinese make an "annual purchase" of scrap steel.

Does anyone know how much steel the Chinese produce from ore, and how much they consume each year?

Also, what fraction of the steel imported by the Chinese is re-exported as finished steel products?

Lastly, over what time period has the price of steel spiked? The last weeks, or months or what?

03-09-2004, 10:31 PM
Free enterprise is really a great thing, if all governments would stay out of the market places. For a good while I got Japanese steel, but then we all found out that it was being subsidized. Then the U.S. placed tarrifs on imports to encourage American steel makers. This just keeps getting into a bigger mess.

If companies would compete on an even basis, they would always be modernizing thier factories and processes.

Someone told me this evening that I could get Spanish steel for a good price, but the quality control wasn't there, so buy a large quantity from the same lot, if I wanted consistency. I did know the Spanish were even in the steel making market.

Maybe we should form a buying Co-Op for steel and fix our own prices, this may be a long shot, but it may be worth it.


03-09-2004, 10:33 PM
My mistake,
I did know the Spanish were even in the steel making market.

That should be: I didn't know that the Spanish were even in the steel making market.


L Webb
03-09-2004, 11:42 PM
The price of steel has been steadily rising for the last year.
It made a jump last spring, then again in the fall. The painful increases have been hitting since October or November.

There were at least 32 price increases from the mills last year alone.
Now the mills aren't putting out as much production and supply is starting to hurt. So that means prices are going up.

Some steel houses are reluctant to sell us full bundles or all they have in stock of a particular item as the mills may not run more for several months, leaving them unable to supply other customers.

I passed one steel house on the way home tonight and was shocked to only see about a dozen steel coils where there is normally about 40 coils. Either they don't want to pay the price to replace it or they just can't get it.


03-09-2004, 11:44 PM
Wow! I thought about starting this thread a couple of weeks ago. I used to get 3/8 HR plate (4x8) for something around $130. A couple of weeks ago, I had to pay $250 something. Geez, that's robbery!

Iron/steel Scrap prices down here used to be $1 a hundred. I think it went up to $1.20 or $1.40.

They've still been selling it at $0.10 a pound though. That's how I got my punch press. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

03-09-2004, 11:49 PM
First of the year we placed our stock order early because we knew the prices would spike,we ordered in 28,000 of cold rolled and structurals at the old price(.45 per pound)Tube that we use comes from Canada and it stayed the same and actually went down as of last Friday when I restocked at work.

Bush imposed the tariffs not to prop up jobs directly,but instead to stop dumping(which was occuring all through the Clinton years with nothing being done to stop it)when the tariff was removed the domestic mills have inventory on hand that they need to dump fast,but at a higher cost,so what to do?Artificially drive up the cost of scrap and new steel for a short time to cover our butts before the next run of cheaper imports hits the docks(about four months.)Look for cheaper steel in June.

Steel for the past three years has averaged between $370 and $408 per ton,now it is up to nearly $470 per ton,not that much increase.

I find it ironic that the very people who are complaining about "job loss to overseas labor" are also now complaining about the tariffs imposed by Bush that saved their very jobs.Last time the tariffs were called by the DNC "a cheap political ploy aimed at union voters" this time they are "ill-concieved" it proves that the Dems have no clue whatsoever.The alloy mfgs are plain screwing with the market since the tariffs never even affected them,they are just gouging plain and simple.

The scrap prices here have tripled in the last two months,that big pile of scrap you see in some of my pics(115,000 lbs worth)will most likley be gone by the end of the summer and the increase in steel prices wil be offset by the scrap gains,again much to do about nothing.

03-10-2004, 01:08 AM
Weirdscience wrote: "I find it ironic that the very people who are complaining about "job loss to overseas labor" are also now complaining about the tariffs imposed by Bush that saved their very jobs."

It's generally conceded now that the tariffs aided the steel industry, but resulted in a net loss of American manufacturing jobs. The job loss was due to increased cost of domestic steel making the end products too expensive for consumers. The making of those products was then shifted offshore resulting in major job losses, probably never to return.

This is what I've gathered from reading the editorial comments in trade magazines related to metal fabrication industries.

BTW, the majority of the steel I buy is bar stock. Have any of you noticed the poor surface finish on the cold rolled bar stock since we've had to buy domestic material? The leaded screw machine stock, 12L14, has been especially bad. We have several parts that go to the platers with no surface preparation, we've had to switch to a brushed finish on those parts to hide the pitted surface.

03-10-2004, 08:58 AM
I used to work for Whirlpool. They use more steel than any other company (automakers included).

I should see what their stock is doing right now.

Curiously enough, almost all of their manufacturing with steel is done in the USA. They do import some of their appliances, but from Whirlpool companies abroad.

03-10-2004, 09:04 AM
Funny, at the time of the Steel Tarif mess, I witnessed the unions and many Dem's. calling for tarifs on steel. I did work for a steel mill in Jewett and axk a fellow why all the fuss. He said foreign steel was just cheaper. Since the last election Bush has been blamed for everything from global warming to the common cold. Whats New??

03-10-2004, 09:59 AM
The increased price was not the net result of the tariffs being imposed simply because those jobs are going away regardless of what anybody does,forigen steel is simply cheaper,and since its all made mostly from scrap anyway the Asian mills(which BTW are more accurate)are taking over the market,jobs in the steel industry in this country are gone forget it and there aren't that many jobs in a modern steel mill anyway.

The prices we have are the direct result of the steel industry gouging plain and simple,I got in ahead of the curve and bought while the prices were cheap,I have enough to last till June maybe even further as a result I have more work than I can manage.

03-10-2004, 01:37 PM
DR. Where are you getting your stock from? All the suppliers I used except one always had very good stock. I did get some stuff that was not only not round ,but laminated as well. That was from Great Lakes Surplus Steel.
There is also the option of centerless grinding the barstock before its cut.Not that hard to do.

03-10-2004, 08:08 PM
I get my bar stock from suppliers in the Pacific NW, Summerville, Ryerson, etc. It took awhile for them to admit there was a problem with the bars. The usual answer was "no one else has mentioned problems". It wasn't long before they couldn't use that excuse since practically everyone was complaining.

Yes, centerless grinding is an option. Too expensive for these particular parts. Centerless belt grinding is much less expensive, still a needless expense if we could get decent material.

Back in the "old" days you could count on CR bars to have an almost shiny surface, no longer. We did find a source of leaded screw machine stock called "Martin Bright" which has the finish we need. It's a little more expensive than the regular stuff and has to be brought in from California.

03-11-2004, 01:22 AM

Do you have a website or phone number for Great Lakes Surplus Steel?