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  • Your go to inventory is..

    This is a loaded question, not one i have seen asked so here it goes.

    What material do you keep in stock for most machining jobs?

    I know everyone is different but if you can post your answer and what you do with it. (usually)


    I just bought a CNC milling machine and have found that a bar of 1.5x1.5 solid aluminum is a my go to. Great for making soft jaws.

    I have a bunch of 1" bar stock. 1018, 4340 (pre hardened and hardened), precision ground 1", 1.25", but i am finding those too small these days.

    Some 6" x 3/8" aluminum and steel plate also come in handy for making various things.

    I am usually machining shafts and working on pumps and various welding projects.

    Rob

  • #2
    Since I do not do general repairs commercially, I don't need to keep stock of common items.

    I do like to keep some 1144 (like stressproof), some 1018, and some air hardening stock, in as many sizes as I feel like buying, up to maybe 1.5" round. Also typically some 4140, and some gray PVC, likewise. Air hardening in plate up to 1/2"

    Other than that, any block aluminum I come across, and a considerable stock of M-2M steel in larger sizes, rounds, bars and and blocks, as I find it at attractive pricing. A bit of cast iron in block and round, as I find it. Not too much sheet/plate, as I don't have a plasma cutter or torch.
    2730

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

    Everything not impossible is compulsory

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    • #3
      First choice, anything I can get for free.
      Second choice, rethink the project so I can go with first choice.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd suggest a little of everything. Here's why.

        I learned machining in order to make flashlights. So I bought 3 foot sticks with diameters in 1 inch increments. When i made my first small flash light that had a .75 inch body and 1.25 inch head I had to use 2 inch stock. I found that you make a LOT of swarf turning a 2 inch bar down to .75 inches to make a 3 inch long flashlight. To make matters worse, I was using a 7x10 lathe and taking very light cuts out of ignorance as to the machine's capability. How many passes does it take at .005 per pass? A million is my recollection.

        Now I have in my stock pile various alloys in many common diameters. I can do many projects without having to remove much more than 1/4 inch. When bought by the pound, the smaller sticks are cheap. I buy more than I need at my metal supply place because they have a $30 minimum per purchase. I go in for a 6 inch hunk of 1x4 brass and come home with lots of other metal to refill my stash.
        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.

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        • #5
          I have friends in manufacturing. Their dumpster is my stock inventory.

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          • #6
            yup... me too. With Steel or AL, Anything less than about 4-5 feet gets "recycled".. some percentage falls into my truck (legally). Of course I have accumulated too much of some and need to recycle it back to their dumpster.

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            • #7
              Mostly I try to keep steel and aluminum bar, up to 1 inch diameter for steel, up to about 2 inch for aluminum. Flat bar in both metals, and steel sheet in 16 ga. My go to plastic is pvc, and the handiest thing I've found is 2 ft diameter water main. Some tedious time with a skilsaw and it became pieces just small enough to fit into the oven. After about 55 minutes it becomes soft enough to flatten between pieces of board, after which it's about 1-1/8 inches thick. I've probably gone through about 100 lbs of that so far.

              I also like to keep fiberglass materials on hand.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 1-800miner View Post
                First choice, anything I can get for free.
                Second choice, rethink the project so I can go with first choice.
                This is very much also my selection procedure.

                when I rummage around my extensive stock list the selection for lathe goes somewhat like this:

                1018 CR equivalent = one time use fixtures, sacrificial tooling, parts to be welded, general "dont care" choice.
                MOC 210 or MOC420 (4130 or whatever equivalent)= any part that I need some strenght or nice surface. Most of my stock is M16 to M40 studs in various lenghts...because it was free..My favourite in a lathe.
                34CrNiMo prehard= for serious strenght
                Hardened hex bar stock = surplus w-germany hex keys.
                Heavy and non-magnetic =Stainless steel = nasty stuff for welding, free machining for anything else. Ferritic grades of stainless may slip by as a 1018 crap..
                6082 aluminium in bars and flats = parts for Lotus

                And milling machine is very often fed with key bar stock, C45 (1045??)

                Anyone else using key steel bar stock for pretty much everything?
                Don't know about US. traditions, but here C45 key steel is really commonly used for anything else than axle keys
                Last edited by MattiJ; 01-13-2017, 02:31 AM.
                Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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                • #9
                  Being the other side of the pond here in the UK this has made me feel the need to look up the numbers for steel types used in the USA. I am still referring to the wartime EN numbers and some European "Din" number grades. What I do though is always buy more than I need to build up my stock.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chris Evans View Post
                    Being the other side of the pond here in the UK this has made me feel the need to look up the numbers for steel types used in the USA. I am still referring to the wartime EN numbers and some European "Din" number grades. What I do though is always buy more than I need to build up my stock.
                    Its a real mess also here. EN numbers, american standards, more local Finnish standards and manufacturer specific versions.
                    TIG wires are usually sold with american system, but if you want to order TIG wire from Germany it's more likely some EN-number..
                    Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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                    • #11
                      I get most of my round steel stock from my hydraulic repair shop. He is a friend of mine and he keeps me in every diameter of round stock up to 180mm diameter. I just have to be careful because some of it is hardened 3 to 5mm deep and I need to take a deep enough first cut on the lathe to get most of it in the first pass.

                      All of my other needs I order and like others here I always order way more than I need at the time.

                      A few years ago I sold a big bandsaw to a company that builds machines. The bandsaw weighed over a ton. One of the terms of sale was I get dumpster rights for life! Their dumpsters are like going to Disneyland for me. I pretty much only have to buy structural steel or aluminum.
                      Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                      How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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                      • #12
                        Here's Dan Gelbart talking about materials to keep on hand for prototyping and shop work:

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjFwcsSU0oc

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                        • #13
                          I don't stock much material but what I do stock is a mix of everything. The reason is because most things I personally make in the mill or lathe or what have you is eventually welded to some other part. So for me depending what that part is made of makes my decision on what I will be machining.
                          Andy

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                          • #14
                            If you can, try to find a local shop that does CNC turning with automatic bar feeders.

                            They often will have 4-12" remnants of bar in all sizes and materials. Many times they will have free cutting steels, like 1215, which is a joy to use in the shop. Make friends with them, show up with a case of beer if needed or coffee and donuts, and buy the stuff for scrap, or close to scrap price.

                            While it's not for everything, and is basically impossible to harden (you can actually case harden it but the process is very difficult), free cutting steels are good for many things, and helps you make chips faster. A lot faster.

                            The strength of the stuff is pretty good too as it is cold drawn. Most of the free cutting stuff has a yield strength around 400 MPa (60 ksi).

                            Obviously questionable for wearing surface. But I made a few tools out of it for someone once and I was surprised how long they lasted even in a high wear situation.
                            www.thecogwheel.net

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                            • #15
                              electronic technician, ergo packrat. motorhome jammed full of salvaged material. vast aluminum plates, big chunks of 7076 AL, when the boss said "take it to the dump" I took it to the dump I live in.

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