Ordering Raw Materials and Fasteners
Finding sources for tiny fasteners and small quantities of the materials you need to build your projects used to be a problem. If you needed a few small stainless steel screws, you had to buy a box of 100. If you needed a foot of a particular kind and shape of metal, the “cutting charges” could run more than cost of the material. Either that or you could rummage through the bins at your local scrap metal dealer in hopes of finding what you need. Now there are a number of places that allow you to shop by phone or directly online and get just exactly what you need delivered to your door, FAST! Here are some places that make purchasing just what is on your materials list an easy task.
Your local scrap dealer is a possible source for raw materials. This rack at a metal dealer in Escondido, CA is neater and better organized than many. Some materials are color coded, but codes can vary from company to company, so it can be hard to be sure exactly what you are getting unless the mill’s grade markings are still on the pieces. You may also have to bring your own hacksaw to cut material to size. Now specialty web sites and mail order companies offer a better way for the hobbyist to buy raw materials in small quantities.
Online Metals offers a great selection of metal and plastic shapes. There is no cutting charge, no minimum order and orders go out within 24 hours. They were one of the first to offer this service on the web and still one of the biggest. To check out the selection or to order, click on the link to the left.
Microfasteners.com is another provider of small nuts, bolts, screws, rivets and other fasteners that you might want to add to your list of resources: You can download their entire catalog, and they will sell in small quantities.
METAL by the FOOT, Inc. offers aluminum, brass and steel. They are located at 2700 E. Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64127 and their phone number is (816) 241-5550. Ask for Bill or Andy Heinz.
Machinist-Materials specializes in low prices. They can save you 30-50% of new material by buying their stock as drop-offs from machine shops and production facilities. They claim to offer the lowest prices on the net if they have what you need. In addition to metals, they offer a good selection of plastics too. Check out their site at http://www.machinist-materials.com or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their main office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and they have a warehouse open to the public in Largo, FL. Call them at 1-866-MACH-MAT or (866) 622-4628.
Industrial Metal Sales sells in small quantities in multiples of one foot, plus you can request other lengths. Customers have reported their prices are quite reasonable. They are located in Mt. Clemens, MI. You can call or fax for a quote. Phone: 586-783-2238, Fax: 586-783-2168. You even get a free T-shirt with orders over $150.00.
Fastenal has stores in many locations (2300 stores in 7 countries) and has on on-line selection of metals. They also carry some stock in their stores and can order it if they don’t have it. Check their web site for the store closest to you. As their name implies, they also carry a selection of fasteners.
Discount Steel is out of Minneapolis and Ft. Worth. Sometimes they have the best prices around, but you should compare before buying because they are reported to be a little inconsistant in their pricing depending on the metal and the length.
Alro Metals Plus has purchased the former metal supplier called ASAP Source. No matter what you call them, they still sell metal in small quantities for home machinists. They specialize in the kind of small orders hobbyists typically place and are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their phone number is (Toll Free) 877-668-0676 or visit their web site.
Plastics on eBay
The Great Industrial Garage Sale sells a wide selection of plastics through this eBay store. Check out the selection of UHMW, Delrin, Teflon PTFE, Aluminum and Nylon Offcuts at discount prices. They also offer IBM Keypunch Card printing plates for vintage computer collectors. You see a photo of what you are getting, and all pieces are offered with a “Buy-it-now” price so there is no need to wait for an auction to end.
Freeman Manufacturing and Supply in Avon, Ohio offers machinable waxes and foam materials in a variety of densities. Machinable foam is a popular material for making prototypes on CNC machines because it cuts very quickly and is easy on tools. Visit their website or call 800-321-8511. They also offer a sample pack of various density materials for $25.00 so you can see which works best for your application.
Our RESOURCES PAGE page has a number of items that might be of interest to you. We have collected a lot of useful and interesting information for machinists in one place. Give it a try.