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Essential Raw Materials?

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  • Essential Raw Materials?

    What raw materials do you see as essential in your shop?

    I am considering a splurge on some nice steel, aluminium and brass in various cross sections and was wondering what everyone else keeps 'on-hand'. I know that what I get is dependent on the work I do, but what do you keep for work? The biggest hindrance to me making stuff right now is a lack of material to work with!

    I have a chinese 12x36 lathe and RF31 mill. Seriously considering a chinese bandsaw too.

  • #2
    Well I'll start, although my list includes a lot of metal for welding.

    plate, 16ga thru 3/4
    box tube 1" and 2"
    2"x3" CR
    2"x2" CR
    2" dia CR
    3" dia CR
    4.5" dia CR
    1" dia CR
    misc chunks I can get cheap

    plate 1/4-2"
    2" dia - 6" dia
    2"x1/4" wall round tube (for making rollers)
    Various chunks as above

    sheet and thin plate,
    tubing, various

    I build a lot of things with 1 or 2 inch box, it's the most handy stuff to have around. I also like to have lots of 1/4-3/4" plate for making brackets etc. Metal only goes to the scrap yard in the form of chips or filings.


    • #3
      1 - 5gal. bucket of each:
      Cutting oil
      Way lube
      Gear oil

      Stock? I never buy stock unless I need it, or need to be sure the alloy is exactly what the job calls for if need be. Now stockpiling (free) drops and another man's "trash" to have on hand is another matter. I'll take any and all of it & sort it out later.

      [This message has been edited by vinito (edited 12-05-2004).]


      • #4
        Angle stock, 1"x1/8", 1-1/4x1/8", 1-1/2x3/16", 2"x1/4", 2"x3"x1/4", 3"x1/4" covers a lot of territory for basic welding projects and bolt-togethers. Also mild steel sheet in 16 ga, 1/8", 1/4", 3/8".

        If you want to "splurge", get an assortment of "Stressproof" round stock, and cold-drawn 1018 solid rectangular stock, that you can machine to your heart's content without being frustrated by warpage, "hard spots" and poor surface finish. Can do a lot with a single piece of rectangular stock say 1"x4".

        So many alloys of aluminum, I look for 3/4" and 1" slabs of 6061 (weldable) and 7075 (nicest machining) but just buy small stock as needed.

        Brass, solid round stock of 360 alloy in asst. diameters to 1-1/2".

        Other stuff, asst. dia of O-1 tool steel up to 1", for cheap cutting tools you can machine, harden and grind easily.

        The ENCO sale fliers with occasional free shipping specials are a good start.


        • #5
          I used to stock up on what I thought was necessary "stock" just to find it hangin around the shop for years.

          Then I found myself still going to the supplier for material I needed for a certain job.

          The most usable material to have on hand would be the cash to go to the metal supplier and buy the needed material as needed, for me anyway.

          Now I stock the "loose" change to buy the material for that certain job. JRouche
          My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group


          • #6
            Get the bandsaw NOW, you will soon be very glad that you did.

            Essential stock depends on what you do, and if you can afford to wait for materials. I am lazy and hate to go to the steel yard, so I keep a lot of stuff that I can obtain easily, but not in any great quantity.

            I find it amazing that, while I have an impressive array of profiles on hand, half the time I STILL don’t have the one that I really need. Go figure.

            I use a fair amount of drill rod and hate to have to wait for the order to come in when it is needed. As it is so inexpensive, I keep most sizes from 1/4â€‌ to 1 1/2â€‌ in O-1 and W-1 on hand, as well as a few of the other popular tool steels. Likewise, angle and square tubing from 1/2â€‌-2â€‌, lots of bar, CRS rounds to 3â€‌ plus some larger drops, some brass, bronze, nylon and acetyl rounds, some stainless, and tons of aluminum, and on, and on...

            OK never mind, if you just want to start making chips get some 1â€‌ aluminum and CRS rounds for lathe practice. Find the local recycling yard and get some steel and aluminum bar and plate drops for the mill.

            For a home shop, you are not likely to have an immediate need for a large quantity of any particular material. You can simply pick up a little extra material every time you need some for a project. Stop by the scrap yard and see if they have a deal on any drops you could put to good use. Before long you will probably have more stock than you really want to store.
            Location: North Central Texas


            • #7
              I always buy some extra metal, whatever the project. I will have left over from my current mill project some 1 1/4" precision ground round bar stock. What will it be good for? I'm sure I will find a use.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


              • #8
                ...........Like Joel, I've only bought to have on hand as a garage machinist, drill rod. What I dream up to do can take off in too many directions to purposely spend money on stuff I'd wished I'd bought differently later on.

                Son of the silver stream ..... Bullet caster.


                • #9
                  I have two local metals suppliers, each less than six miles away. They carry everything from heavy architectural I-beam to small aluminum extrusions, as well as drill rod, brass (and some copper) stainless instrument tubing, 4140, 304, you name it.

                  I've had to order a few odd pieces or materials, but typically, if I need something for a project, I can just drop in, pay my per-pound, the guys in back will bandsaw off the section, and I walk out.

                  Typically, I'll buy more than I need for a project- if I need a foot of 1" round aluminum, I'll buy four. Or if they have a five-foot remnant, I'll buy that.

                  Over time, I've gained a stash of material that's the size I need or use, and I've been operating off that almost exclusively for almost a year.

                  They also have a part-off and scrap bucket, that they toss pieces that are too small to bother putting back into inventory. Like a 1.5" coin of 3" 4140 that I found last I was in there. Don't need it, but now I have it.

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


                  • #10
                    115 availabilium is my favourite
                    Damn unobtanium is far too spensive.

                    Amazing the sorta 'scrap' you can find even without going to a scrapyard, just keep your eyes open. You've also gotta become an expert scrounger and maybe trade some of your machine time/experience/labour for materials.
                    Rgds, Lin


                    • #11
                      Brass round 3/16", 3/8", 3/4" diameter
                      Aluminum round 1/2", 3/4", 1"
                      11L17 or 12L14 round 5/8, 3/4, 1"
                      3/4 Delrin, Black 3 feet.
                      1018 round 1/8, 1/4, 3/8

                      3 x 1/2 1018
                      1" sq 1018
                      1/4 x 3 1018 Hotrolled
                      1 1/2 angle Iron

                      2 x 1/2 aluminum flat

                      1 x 1 Brass square sock
                      1/2 x 1 Brass flat.

                      This is all based on the idea you will make general tooling or small parts on a regular or a "quick need" basis. The rest for specialty projects you should order. I suggest 11L17 or 12L14 for the larger diameters because they work better and smoother than 1018, and have relatively better quality and less "loss" overall due to scrap in the learning curve.

                      Lubricants for cutting:
                      1 16 ounce tube of edgelube solid (lard type of thing)
                      1 small can of tap magic
                      1 small can of black cutting oil.

                      Just my suggestions realizing a general budget

                      CCBW, MAH


                      • #12
                        Keep on hand what ever you get for free and have room to store. Look and ask everywhere for it. Many people and organizations have metal in the way but usually don't know how to get rid of it. Be on the lookout even in the oddest places. My brother worked at a Recreation Center and from him I received: 10 inch pipe by 10 ft long, 3/8 by 2 inch by 12 ft flat bar 10 peices and lods of other stuff. This was metal left behind from trade shows and also dumped in or beside their dumpster. He also got me a worn out Zamboni blade once. Other than that Drill rod, some small brass, a couple of peices of CRES and of course lots of mild steel. Try not to buy too much to start as over time you will accumulate lots for free. If you do a job for someone that you may do again buy extra. Racks on the wall(insde preferably but not manditory) will help you keep it out of your way. I also use milk crates to hold the smaller stuff and they are on a wheeled dolly under my steps so I can pull it out and spin at around to find what I want. I use 4 different crates to keep my metal seperated by types. I also have a table with racks underneath that I keep 3 foot sections of material. I ussually by three feet at a time if I can as 95% of my work is under that size so it stores nicely with drill rod.



                        • #13
                          My plan is to stock:

                          4140PH - rds from 1/2" to 2"
                          Brake Die flats in common thicknesses
                          as wide as I can afford

                          O-1-up to 1/2" rds

                          360 brass rds to 1"

                          6160 AL -rds up to 1"
                          flats in common thk as wide as possible

                          303SS-rds to 1"

                          Welding & fab stuff-1" angle 1/8" thk
                          - -1-1/2" angle 3/16" thk
                          -1 & 1-1/2" 11 ga sq tubing
                          -1/2 inch safety expanded metal

                          Anything else as needed.

                          That's whating I'm working towards as money allows. I've also scrounged alot of shorts.

                          A good way to start stocking is one of those assortments packs on Ebay

                          Jon Bohlander
                          My PM Blog


                          • #14
                            Excellent - thanks for all the replies, certainly gives me something to think about.

                            Main problem is (as I have expressed before) the town I live in has 1018, and 1018 oh yeah, and Bisalloy in slabs too big to even think of how to move them...

                            Anything I want I need to order in, or go on a special trip - That's kinda why I was after a list, that way I can order it, pick it up and have a reasonably good inventory to back me up.

                            I have stacks of 1018 here as its easy to get, that recycled stuff too which is evil to machine...


                            • #15
                              Well, went on a shopping excursion today - and actually came away quite surprised!

                              This is a joined effort of the 1018 or nothing steel shop (I found out that BMS is actually 1030) and a local bearing/fastner supplier.

                              There is
                              12mm square BMS
                              50mm square hot rolled (toolpost parting tool project)
                              50x12 for parting tool also
                              3/4" brass
                              30mm nylon
                              5/16" stainless

                              I also found BMS round up to 50mm and nylon up to 75mm, brass to 30mm.

                              Couldn't find any drill rod, or any EN series steels locally - so will start on the outside Tamworth suppliers. Thanks for all your suggestions!!

                              BTW, anyone know if 1030 BMS will harden appreciably?