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Where do you get your materials?

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  • Where do you get your materials?

    Currently I can buy material from/through work which is a great deal. Get a 12' stick and cut what I need, weigh it, pay for it and I'm working on a new project at the house.

    I was calling around for prices on some steel and was asking how each company shipped material and where they would ship material.

    Many want to deliver the order and refuse to let you pick it up. I haven't quite figured this one out yet. Some places will ship to anywhere that sounds like a business. That’s as easy as picking a business name and giving them your address. Just be prepared for the weight of what you have ordered. All local places that deliver (whom I have talked to so far) do not have booms on the trucks for unloading.

    May places will deliver via UPS and the such. But many of these places get you on a cut charge. And lets face it, UPS is limited to the length that can be shipped. Plus you are charged on weight. Tubing may not be bad to ship but a chunk of solid stock might just doom your project to the drawing board only.

    Some places even specialize in cutting and shipping to your location. But again, shipping can deter the mail order process.

    So it struck me the other day, (a thought, not any type of material) where does everyone get their metal stock? Mail order? Local distributor that you have a good relationship with? Or do you find it locally at machine shops in the form of drops. If so, do you pay by weight or by trading 6 packs?

    [This message has been edited by rockrat (edited 05-14-2005).]
    Civil engineers build targets, Mechanical engineers build weapons.

  • #2
    I can go pickup stock anywhere in the los angles area... I dont know why your place wont let you pick up.
    When I am up in the boonies of southern Utah (my real home) I order from a big outfit in Page AZ and they deliver that day (but only becausee the driver lives in the same small town as I do)

    However, if I need something fast and they dont have it I just order through
    It is always in within two days.


    [This message has been edited by ronsmith100 (edited 05-14-2005).]


    • #3
      Most of my steel is purchased and delivered by a local steel supplier. If it is heavy I use my tractor to unload the truck. They also allow local pickup. For sheet material I pick it up in my truck, it easier for me to handle. I have also bought drops from some machine shops.



      • #4
        I get from work or if it is something special I order it from Mcmaster-carr.
        Non, je ne regrette rien.


        • #5
          In my town we have one good sized job shop (well, good sized for here). They do a lot of fab work with steel and aluminum. I have been buying from them for decades and they let me pick anything I like from their stock racks and will even cut it for me with no cutting charge in most cases. For stuff they don't have I get it from all over. Plastics I get from Prince George 150 miles north, usually when my wife is up there. Last month she went up for a convention and picked me up a real nice assortement of PTFE crops. I recently ordered 30 lbs of Fortal from mousebar and it got here in ten days by parcel post. Cost was $2 per pound for 7075-T651 Al. Very good. Graphite spars from the Kite Shop in the US, also good delivery and price. I have acme leadscrew rod and nuts on order right now, should be here in a week or so from Keystone Threaded Products. Very nice woman there by the name of Debbie, no problems sending by parcel post, paid with a money order. Excellent prices.

          I order stuff from all over North America for my projects, any minor problems have always been resolved easily and usually there are no problems. I also get some of my supplies from my wife's shop

          For those in Canada when you see a site that only offers UPS shipment it pays to check with them. I found a company in Washington that has hi res rotary quad encoders for only $11.00. Their website clearly says UPS only. I e-mailed them and got a nice reply that said if I specify USPS only on my order by FAX they will take it to the post office so I can avoid the rip-off UPS brokerage fee.

          [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 05-14-2005).]
          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


          • #6
            Fox Valley Scrap is my primary source. My price has gone up to .25 a pound for steel.

            Dumpster diving the local manufacturers. A box of donuts will get you a lot of steel.

            Metal Express for anything specific.They are about 1/2 an hour from here and will let me pick up.

            McMaster-Carr for drill rod etc.

            The big mills have a $50.00 minimum and you cant combine. My source of last resort.


            • #7
              Many steel suppliers will truck deliver to your shop with a $100 minimum order (and that's only three sticks of hot rolled flat 1/2" x 2" x 20'). Most will extend net 30 day terms with credit references.

              You do get full sticks (or sheets) of material, which can be a problem if you only need a 3' x 3' piece of plate. Then you need to find a large, local welding & fabrication shop. My local supplier charges 35% markup over the price that he & I pay. He can shear 1" thick, has an X-Y plasma table, makes the first cut at no charge, $2.50 for additional cuts.

              Tool steel flats & drill rod, 36", are available through J&L (25% off, four times/month) and the other large suppliers. The best place for 4130 tubing is .

              Sometimes a "150 mile" eBay search will get a response. I run that search two or three times per week just to make sure I don't miss anything large & heavy, machine tools included.

              You can get just about anything you need from these sources.

              Barry Milton
              Barry Milton


              • #8
                I get scrap from work, or from the local scrap metal yard, but usually have no information on the grade of metal.

                I have ordered cast iron through McMaster-Carr. McMaster's site allows you to specify the method of shipping, and I failed to do that so they sent my order by air-mail. One bar of cast iron, 5"dia X 12" and one flat piece 1/4" X 4" X 12".
                I'm in Western Canada (Vancouver Island) and I think the order came from Chicago. Imagine my surprise when the delivery guy rang my doorbell the next day! Shipping cost more than the materials!

                McMaster has a great selection of tools and materials. You do have the option of ground delivery, I just didn't use it.


                • #9
                  We have a few local suppliers here in Phx, metal supermarkets has the best prices most of the time and will cut the material for free. The problem with them is the metal especially their aluminum tends to be pretty beat up, not really a problem if you are gonna machine all the surfaces, but not acceptable if the stock dimensions dont get cut. It pays to shop around from many different suppliers, we got qoutes on a big chunk of 303 stainless the other day, the qoutes varied from $600 delivered to $1100 delivered, guess who we went with.


                  • #10
                    My local steelyard , Skagit River Steel, delivers on tuesdays and thursdays, and they stock new steel, pipe, and a bit of stainless and aluminum.
                    I have an account with them, call the order in before 3 and it is on the truck the next delivery day.
                    Alaskan Copper runs a truck my way every day. 100lb minimum for free delivery. They stock aluminum, stainless, and a very wide selection of coppers and bronzes. They will cut to size, shear plate and sheet. Again, call before 3 or so, and the stuff is here the next day.
                    I often need large quantities of stainless for the sculptures I build- whenever I need more than a ton or so, I order from a place called Esco- west coast warehouses in Seattle, Portland, and the Bay Area, and delivery by common carrier is included in their price, which is often .10 to .25 a pound less than Alaskan. When you are buying 3000 lbs of stainless, at 2.25 a pound, that adds up.
                    Sometimes for wacky stuff, I shop nationwide, and get it shipped- some oddball needs in the last few years included 1 ton of 3/4" square naval bronze- ended up coming out of a Detroit Thyssen warehouse. Or perforated or textured metal- Maybe I order from MCNicols, which has perforated and expanded metal like nobody else- with warehouses all over the country.
                    I like Rigidized Metals, in Buffalo New York- they make roll textured stainless sheet in some very cool patterns, which you cant get from anybody else.

                    I design and make pretty big projects from scratch, mostly stainless for the last few years, so the scrapyard aint much good for me- I need a large amount of the same stuff, and I need to know what alloy it is. Sometimes we hit the scrapyard for parts for jigs- we built a 12 foot tall 12" diameter column a year or so ago, and found a nice piece of 12" pipe to use as a mandrel to build it on at the junkyard- pulled it off with a comealong when we were done.

                    I have a forklift for unloading, a 20 foot long 5 shelf rack with a couple of tons of odds and ends on it, plus usually a sheet or two of stainless and mild steel in 3 or 4 thicknesses each, in stock most of the time. And out in the machine shed, another couple of tons of aluminum and stainless sheet, cutouts from odd shaped waterjet jobs- so most of the time, if I need a small piece of something, chances are I have it sitting around, if I can only find it.


                    • #11
                      Anywhere that I can afford, including dumpsters and junkyards



                      • #12
                        Ditto the "anywhere".

                        I don't do much work bigger than about a cylinder head- most of it down in thr 2" round and under- and for steel fabbing, rarely anything bigger than a welding table. So cnsequently, I can use about anything, and haul it in a car or small truck.

                        The main supplier for clean stuff is the two local warehouses, both are within five miles, opposite directions. They have steel, aluminum, brass, stainless, structural aluminum shapes, I-beam, plate, sheet, stainless 5056, 6061, 4140, 01, W2, even stainless instrument tubing.

                        Depending on the material, I can get a 1' chunk (typical minimum) or even a 1" coin off a 12" bar of 4140... if I want to pay for it. They don't cut drill rod (3' lengths) or the stainless instrument tubing, but they'll bandsaw, shear or flame cut almost anything else, in almost any size you want.

                        Both have scrap bins, where bits that are too small to bother putting into inventory are tossed- typically drops off the shear, anything less than about 1' square or so. They let me pick through that at my lesiure. Lots of strips of 5052 aluminum (which is very handy now that I have a TIG) and plenty of small steel sections, ranging from a sheet of typing paer on down. Sometimes stainless, sometimes diamond plate.

                        I have scads of this stuff, and it's endlessly handy.

                        For other sources, there's a waterjet shop up in the city, and typically when I stop by to pick up or drop off a part, there will be some scraps from a prior cut. I've gotten some nice 17-4ph stainless, some unknown delrin-like plastic, aluminum bits, you name it.

                        A family member works for a local indusrial plant, and he sometimes grabs oddball parts from the dumpsters for me. Gears, pump shafts (usually 4140, we think) some stainless pipe, bar or bracketry, sometimes blocks of copper, you never know.

                        I've also pulled from junkyards (axle shafts, scrap plate, odd junk like stainless screening) been given leftovers from others' projects, and just generally played the packrat for twenty years.

                        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


                        • #13
                          I use whatever suits the present project.

                          Junk, scrap steel is not really hurt usually. You can take it apart with a plasma, actylene torch or saw and weld it back together to suit yourself.

                          Sometimes you have to buy New, you have to back up and get the wallet out and pay current prices. OUCH lately.



                          • #14
                            Never been a problem here,got too many shipyards and fab shops close by.

                            I do get oddball DOM tube and chrome rod from an outfit called CRC in Mobile,Al.Needed 17" of 9" hotrolled round bar,got it cut to length for .80 a pound for what I needed,beats a buying 20' stick.
                            I just need one more tool,just one!


                            • #15
                              Being a HVAC contractor. I go into a lot of manufacturing facilities. I have all the A2 and Nylon I can stand.

                              Just lucky I guess.

                              I make friends with every machinist at every plant I service. Most are more than willing to help me out.