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Group Sourcing Metal Ideas


Joshua West
Good thought. @Alexander and I were discussing something similar after our last meet up.

I'm on vacation till Monday, with poor access to Internet. But I have an idea on how we can centralize the process. When I get back I'll see about the best way to implement, likely run a beta and see how it goes.

Expect a new thread in the forum in this regard next week.

Hey Everyone, Hope all is well.

Group Sourcing Metal, what are our goals? What are potential limitations? Risks Associated?
These have been the thoughts in my head lately.

Here are the ideas I've had to date to try to accomplish getting metal easier for everyone, (both good and bad ideas ;P)

Corporate accounts with local suppliers
--> (I've reached out to Encore, and a couple others, no response. Who all I should contact?)
--> This option I think will still result in everyone having to go to the location themselves
--> Some corporate accounts also come with regular billing, and therefore centralized billing
--> Twice now I have been told that corporate accounts offer 0 discount, and they wanted me to fill out a credit application, so we can buy as a group, then pay back at the end of the month. Which is not really what we need.
--> So far there hasn't been much friendly banter with the people who have contacted me (You should see the legalese BS credit application I was sent. One other company just said "We have sales periodically, you should just watch for those, and tell your organization to shop here with no group buying." lol

I'm guessing the rest of the industry functions in a similar way to what I've dug up above, but will continue to call around if you guys have any other suggestions. As the above doesn't really feel like it's going to workout, let's discuss figuring out a way to manage this ourselves.

Group Pre-order, then single purchase // Single Purchase, then sell to group?
--> How would this be managed? This puts us in one of two positions, either we ask members to trust and pay up front, or we get opt in, then someone risks getting stiffed with a thousand bucks worth of metal.
------> Taking a deposit on all orders maybe? Then we can tally easily, and everyone has skin in the game equally? How much deposit?
--> How would we handle money? (I have experience running Paypal accounts?) The forum software has a payment function built into it, but I haven't spent the time to learn it yet.
--> How would we handle pickup/delivery?

E-commerce store
--> Inventory becomes an issue, both for management, storage, as does the above noted up front costs.
--> Why pay online when you need to meet to pass the metal around anyways?

What to buy?
--> Managing orders will be a pain, I'm happy to put some elbow grease in if we can get this sorted though.
--> Like, do we say, "We'll be making a trip once we get to 100lbs worth of opt in" then bombard encore with 400 different metals and cut sizes etc? Or do we say "Who wants 4140, 1" rod?" etc.
--> Could make a section on the site specifically for different metal varieties, with like a poll system for opt in maybe? Then once enough opt in is hit, move on to whatever the next step is?

Anyways, lets figure this out and get metal easier!

Kris Jensen

Active Member
I can stock 20' lengths of mild steel I get from Russell metals, I could buy it in the 20' lengths and then whoever can come out and cut it down to a more manageable size but the only problem is I'm out in okotoks. I can get aluminum and stainless as well but just have the storage for the mild

Kris Jensen

Active Member
If I get enough people involved I could deliver the 20' lengths to whoevers house when I pick it up, just would need a little bit to cover the cost and time of delivery


Premium Member
Thanks for looking in to this Josh. We're just too small potatoes I suspect. More than once I've thought about opening a store.... o_O This mess is why metal stupid market can stay in business.

Did federal metals ever open their new building? They said they were going to stock more material types. I like federal they will happily sell me whatever I want which is a strange thing to be grateful for.

@kylemp @Alexander where do you guys get material? Especially 12L14, tool steel, and other harder to get stuff?

I think if we showed up with a specific list and a pile of cash at encore they would probably sell but I'd rather deal with people who want to help us....

@Kris Jensen has the most viable answer I think.
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Well-Known Member
I typically use Federal for hot rolled and structural. Metal supermarket is absolute shit, but they do seem to have what you want in stock when you need it. I've only ever bought from there once, and its not going to happen again unless I REALLY need something NOW. Samuels has almost everything you could want but they have minimums and I think you can only get full lengths. If anyone wants to put an order together I would probably be into picking up some material to have around such as 12L or tool steel.


Junk Yards can be a great and inexpensive source. Whenever I come by a Junkyard and have a bit time I like to go scrounging.
Try to make Friends with the Guys and often end up with Bargains. I hunt mostly for Stainless to make stuff for my Boat and Lead for casting Bullets.

On another note:
If you are in need for extremely good Wire look for what is called in the Oilpatch "Slickline". This stuff is unbelivable strong and tough with enormus tensile strenght. Diameter is usually 3-4mm. You can make all kinds of neat stuff out of it, also tooling but be warned it is so hard it will ruin Vice Jaws or Bolt cutterss very quickly. I had it for 3 years in saltwater not a speck of rust on it.
U can get this cheap from Companies providing "Wireline" services. I understand a new Roll of about 6Km costs about 30K. After some time in use and many bending cycles the Wireline Company cutts the Roll up and it goes into the trash. I bought a whole pickup load for 25Bucks the Guy just wantet it out of the yard. Most of it I used as reebar in a concrete Floor. I been told some Farmers use it as Fencing material.

Cheers -4J

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
The problem is that there are a lot of types of metals in a lot of sizes & people may need only small pieces in specific sizes. There is a reason metal supermarkets is alive and ... expanding operations.

Given the fact that federal metals has no minimums on hot rolled (up to 2") and has all hobbyist structural steel needs I think the gap is in speciality steel department.

In AB there is more need for square stock than round stock as round is used by oil industry and is "relatively" common.

So smaller pieces of 4140 square stock in say 1" to 4" sizes. The problem is storage & buying it all as well as selling it back to the group.

After all I still have 10 tons of round stock in 4140 and 4330. Lifetime supply. But a pain to make square out of round. Also 4330 is frequently "too much steel".

Maybe a little website where people would add themselves to an order which then could be placed in the US from one of online retailers? Never used any but US shipping for US Post is a great value - wish we had this in Canada.


Premium Member
Round to square! Lol yeah... I do that.


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Ultra Member
Premium Member
Nice. Why did I get this impression the big pallet-O-4140 off-cut buy had center holes in the logs? Maybe just some of them? How has that been machining for you guys? Is it kind of equivalent to a hot roll?

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
I have many pallets of 4140 and 4330. Some logs are with holes some are solid. Some are thick rolled pipe. Some are very big some man portable.

4140 is very nice. It is harder than hot roles but not ridiculous. Like 120 for hot rolled and 190 for 4140. I never yet hardened it but now I finally getting equipment to do so. 4140 is much better for most steel applications than hot rolled. Machines with better shine etc.

4330 is much harder than hot rolled - 120 vs 280. It creates problems for HSS and is generally hard to work in with HSS which means carbide use is heavy. It is hard to work with in a home shop environment but the end product even without hardening looks like something from factory - finish is great hardness is high. It is right on the edge of hardness for tapping for example - you have to frequently go down from standard 75% thread engagement to 65% or even just 50% to tap the holes.

Machinable stainless is a bit harder than 4140 but less so than 4330.

For any sort of home tooling 4000 series steels are far more superior to hot rolled.

For 4000 series or at least 4330 I would go with bi-metal blade for the band saw - it still takes forever to take a cut. Hot rolled A36 is so much easier to cut.

I never tried to do things such a knurling on 4330 - I imagine it would be hard to do but if succeeded it would last forever.


Premium Member
Hi Members
Recently I've been working on a couple projects and have found it frustrating to use hot roll and the amount of clean up required before I had bare steel to use. I looked at the usual suspects store to buy a stock of nice cold roll flat bar and found the prices to be outrageous as expected. so... what about a group buy and getting some quotes for a number of us. Perhaps 100-200 pounds each with a target cost of under $2 a pound. If we had four people commit then that might be $1000+ which should get past any minimum order. But the lengths sold at these bigger suppliers are typically 20' so to get to 5' chunks each four people would have to sign up. Or eight. A set package of material would make it a lot easier on the organizer - me.

I propose a package of metal for each participating member target price of $200-300 and looking like this:

1018 cold roll. It's machinable, weldable, clean, cheaper...

1 square 1" by 5' long
3 selections of Flat Bar 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 thick by 6" by 5' long
3 selections of Round 1" 1.5" 2" round 5' long
Weighs 228 pounds @$1.50/lb = $342 each <- really guessing at that at $1.50/pound.

If we dropped the 1/2" flat and the 2" round that would remove 100 pounds from the order. reduced to $192 each.

I just kind of picked some shapes I thought I could use - perhaps other sizes would be better? The sizes need to be pretty vanilla so everyone can be interested. If you want something unusual like 1 1/4” hex then you would probably need to buy a whole 20’ length.

Vendors: James at Steel Inc., MSM?, Varsteel? Fasteel Vancouver? Encore? Russell? https://www.emjmetals.com/pdf_indexer/pdfs/Cold_Finish_carbon_bars_and_cold_rolled_strip.pdf

anybody got any ideas?

BTW MSM on the web site wants about $3.40 a pound ~$775 for this material.
Any interest? I need 4 Or 8 members to say yes. Multiples of 4 anyway.
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Ultra Member
Samuel Wilkinson Steel
6125 - 51st Street SE
Calgary, Alberta

Protospace had a good group buy of aluminum from them. JohnW might know the details.

I not interested in the group buy.


ersatz engineer
I just picked up some 1/3" 5/8" 3/4" and 1 1/4" plate... hummm I should have waited.
- Cautiously interested.
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Premium Member
Ok Names I've got so far...
In: John A. Kevin D.
Maybe: Alexander, Peter T, John C. (Dabbler), Brian Ross
Commented: John Conroy
Out: JohnWa

Anybody else?

Are the sizes proposed reasonable or do other people have alternates?
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Jack of all trades -- Master of none
Premium Member
Sizes seem fine for me.

I'd also be picking up some general steel for fabbing around the acreage. I'll usually pickup 100 feet of 1" and 2" square tubing for making tables , benches etc. This year I'll also be looking at some lengths of ibeam for a lean to shelter off the shop. When I place an order I'll see if anyone wants in

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