Saturday, February 17, 2018

Introducing the Next Project

The book I ordered is in and I've started ordering the metals I don't have for the next project.

As is so often the case, the metal I ordered ended up being a fraction of the shipping.  The metal was about $18 and the shipping $30.  On one piece in particular is an extreme example, 3-1/2" diameter aluminum to turn down to 3-3/8", and about an inch thick.  The smallest piece I could find at Online Metals was a "random length" piece of bar, just guaranteed to be between 10 and 12" long, for $65.  Then I found this seller on eBay that would sell a 1" thick slice for $5 and $7 for shipping.  Even though the shipping is still more than the metal, it was nice to get it for $12 instead of $65 plus shipping. 

Frankly, Online Metals has gone from my "Go To guys" to "I'm not so sure about this" because of the shipping.  Again, the shipping was $30 for no more than (being generous) 4 pounds of metal that fits in a box that's 12 x 6 x 6".  The Postal Service tells me they'll ship it across country as 2 day priority mail "Regional Flat Rate Box A" at $10.18. They made it worse in my eyes by shipping the three pieces of metal in three boxes from three different warehouses with three different delivery dates.  Yes, I realize that the labor to gather the metals and put them in a box costs them something and they need to cover that cost, and I realize that the way the shipping industry works, they'll get different rates depending on a whole gaggle of factors. 

Griping aside, I have enough on hand to get started.  I also expect I'm going to go through this a few more times before I'm done.


  1. This echos my recent experience. Looking for a bit of thin aluminum plate, possibly tread plate, or not. Looked online, looked in the local hardware store. Had no idea that aluminum was so precious. At some convenient point I'll be visiting the local scrap yard.

  2. Don't know what happened to my comment so I'll try again.
    I know you are in Florida but not exactly sure where.
    According to the store locator, there are 4 Metal Supermarkets in that state.

    There is one about 20 minutes from me and they are my GO TO source. They sell all different kinds and shapes of metal and will cut them to your length for free. You could buy a one inch long piece of 3 inch bar if you wanted to. Since I visit in person I do not know what they charge for shipping but I have ordered smallish pieces of brass On Line from other outfits and the shipping killed me. Might want to look into these guys.

    I'm looking forward to your build.

    1. I looked in the junk folders that blogger has but nothing was there, so I have no idea what happened to the other comment.

      The closest Metal Supermarket is about 75 miles away and since it's Orlando, figure closer to 90 minutes each way. Definitely a possibility, but I need to look into any local scrap dealers. There used to be/may still be one on the other end of town, more like 15 miles away.

      Back when I did my antenna project, I bought a 10' piece of 4" schedule 40 pipe. I forget the numbers, but Online Metals ordering system gave me a good price. It was something like $180 for the pipe and $80 for shipping. Then they emailed me and told me it was going to be $200 for the shipping. I found a place in Orlando that had the pipe and I drove over. It was $140 and a couple of gallons of glass.

  3. Amazon sells a surprising variety of metals in blocks, sheets, rods, and extrusion. If you have a Prime account, most of the time shipping is free. They are competitive in price with Online Metals.

    And hey, clean out a couple of drawers and build up a stockpile. I always buy several times what I need anyway, and I haven't found that to be a bad philosophy.

    1. D'oh!!

      Considering that I bought a lot of the plumbing for the oiling system on my big mill from Amazon, I'm surprised I didn't think of them.

    2. I meant to say that I've been doing what you say, except in plastic bins instead of drawers (we have a never-ending supply of kitty litter buckets). What I ordered, except for that 1 piece of 3-1/2" aluminum, will leave lots of leftovers for the next projects.

  4. Check out "Hobby Metal Kits" I have no direct affiliation or experience with them but they were recommended by Mr. Pete on YouTube.

  5. Online metals has good stock, with certification, but I agree completely on the shipping- I have had orders shipped from the same location, multiple small items, each put in it's own box and sent separately. $$$$$
    Right now I need a piece of 27" long 2 1/2" dia 1144 steel... think maybe I will go pick it up.

  6. Shipping costs have gone through the roof. Things I used to ship for $8 are now more like $20 to ship. Since we've moved, and I no longer have access to my friend's mailbox place, I'll be looking into the USPS flat rate boxes.

    For bigger stuff like radios, I'll have to find a FedEx place nearby.

    I'm also a pack rat when it comes to hardware. Need a couple of 1/4-20x1" cap screws? I'll buy a whole box of 100, and then have them for the next time.

  7. UPS and probably FedEx lowered their threshold for when you hit "dimensional weight". UPS used to be somewhere around a 2ft cube, now I hit it on a ~16x 10x 12...

    Long skinny stock that doesn't ship in a tube is gonna be pricey.

    I remember McMasterCarr having smaller pieces of metal listed too.

    When I lived in Cali, I loved Industrial Metal Supply. They had a whole warehouse full of 'drops' of all kinds of shapes and materials that sold by the pound. They were a great resource.

    There must be some sort of local metal supplier that also does cutting. They often save and sell the drops (or they re-cut them into useful things like square plates of steel for railing feet, etc.)

    Another place to consider is your local scrap buyer. Pretty much any one I've asked would sell me anything I saw for 2x scrap price. LOTS of good clean metal ends up at the scrap yard. I've seen copper billet, sheet, wire (awesome ground wire); same for aluminum, including plate, tube, and rod. Lots of scrap buyers will put aside the obviously useful chunks that come in especially for resale.

    Lots of ways to save and still get materials for projects...