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Sourcing Metal | General Discussion

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#1
At the last meetup we were discussing where to buy metal. I have more information.

Metal supermarket: they have lots of selection including the only place I know of to get 12L14 here in town which is very good for machining. They also have aluminium, steel, hot & cold roll, plate, sheet, stainless, copper, and brass. They are open on weekends, Sat. Still on the bad side they are as expensive, more expensive or less expensive than home depot depending on I don't know what. Whims, the moon, maybe qty but not always. Check your invoice before you pay.

Federal metals:
I just called federal metals. Their new building which will add aluminium, stainless steel, to their hot roll steel sales is still not finished as they keep having delays with the builder apparently. He was unable to say when it would open. Soon I hope, and I have high hopes for a better smaller supplier than metal supermarket. They are great for hot roll steel if that is what you want. Good prices. M-F only I think.

Samuel specialty metals. They have aluminium and stainless. Example Price was $50 for angle 1.5x1.5" x1/4 thick by 20' long aluminium angle. $125 minimum charge so you would have to buy three pieces for $150 in that example. I dont think they do cutting to buy less, but they probably would cut so you can get it home. Group purchase anyone? To compare angle 1x1x 1/8 thick by 6 feet long at homedepot is probably $30. Their sister company is wilkinson steel but I didn't call them. Open M-F 9-3!

Big Box suppliers... Homedepot, rona, princess. Princess is a little less than the other hardware stores. They are good for threaded rod. They also have really cheap bearings, but tend to be out of stock on particular sizes. All these stores are convenient and expensive. A few things not intended for machining can be used for various metal working projects. Electrical conduit. Gas pipe. Grounding rods.

I think steel should be about $1 a pound. At federal it seems to be $1-1.5 a pound generally. What about Al? at Samuel its $3.11/lb for example. And Stainless? And 12L14? Anyone?

Who else? Please relay your experience.
Online? Just browsing it seems expensive.

And fasteners. Screws etc. where is good? Good selection, open on weekends, and not expensive.

2016 edits
Metal Works Canada
http://canadianhobbymetalworkers.com/threads/new-metal-supplier-in-calgary.390/#post-3662
 
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Jwest7788

Well-Known Member
Administrator
Premium Member
#2
Hey, Great write up. Agreed, Federal is cheap, but limited selection of metals. (But great selection of hot rolled, haha)

One note, you have an extra dimension in both of your examples:
1.5x1.5 x1/4 X 20'
1x1x1/8 X 6'
My brain basically fell apart trying to visualize the examples until it clocked what was going on.

I would be open to a group order!

onlinemetals.com is the only online supplier I look at, their "protobox" things seem cool. (like a 20lb protobox of mixed aluminum could be awesome, or terrible. Not sure yet.)
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#3
Yah if that protobox is full of 20 pounds of aluminium window extrusion, maybe 40 three inch cutt-offs, that would suck. You still want to use my band saw?
 

Jwest7788

Well-Known Member
Administrator
Premium Member
#4
Yah if that protobox is full of 20 pounds of aluminium window extrusion, maybe 40 three inch cutt-offs, that would suck. You still want to use my band saw?
Yes I do, and yes, that would be awful.

It's my birthday today (yay!, lol). "The gang" and I are going out tonight, so depending on how the night goes, I may or may not be out of commission early tomorrow. Is there any time that works particularly well for you over the weekend though? I can work to your schedule!

JW
 

Alexander

Super User
Moderator
Premium Member
#5
Anything under $1.50 per pound is a good deal to me. I dig the scrap pile at federal allot. Sometimes there are nice 3' length's of round bar. Try allied metals they are on the other side of the bridge from federal metals. Rock bottom prices there if you want a full length.
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#6
Allied metals, ok another place to try. What do they carry? Btw Federal does not let you dig anymore.

Anything under $1.50 per pound is a good deal to me. I dig the scrap pile at federal allot. Sometimes there are nice 3' length's of round bar. Try allied metals they are on the other side of the bridge from federal metals. Rock bottom prices there if you want a full length.
 

Alexander

Super User
Moderator
Premium Member
#7
I am sorry to hear federal metals isn't letting the public in anymore. When did they tell you that? I know I bought some material out of there scrap pile in the back corner of the yard in April. Allied is a great source for everything hot rolled. If you call them they may have more stuff. I have only bought hot rolled material there twice, but it was really good deal
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#8
I am sorry to hear federal metals isn't letting the public in anymore. When did they tell you that? I know I bought some material out of there scrap pile in the back corner of the yard in April. Allied is a great source for everything hot rolled. If you call them they may have more stuff. I have only bought hot rolled material there twice, but it was really good deal
I dont see Allied on the map near federal metals. There is a sheet metal fabricator called Allied in the NE....
 

Alexander

Super User
Moderator
Premium Member
#9
I drove past the shop because I was totally confused by your post. It is called Varsteel sorry about that. I rember seeing a little catalog from Varsteel at one of the shops I worked at. One of us should grab a stack of those and we can distribute them at the next meet up.
 
#10
There is also russel metals they got pretty much anything and can cut down to size for you, my friend gets his 20 foot lengths and 4x8 plate delivered to his house.
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#13
I used OnlineMetals recently out of necessity for my model engine. http://www.onlinemetals.com/
I needed smallish sticks, but specific materials that were hard to source locally without buying a 10-footer which I'll never use (specific aluminum alloys, bearing bronze, 416 stainless, stress proof steel). I am not aware of a Canadian version of OLM. Of note, they offer a discounted shipping feature that helpful to us Kanucks. Basically its UPS but they discount the brokerage & duty assessment fees & so avoids the usual UPS dinger-fee pain. They must have a deal set up like how Amazon (usa) where UPS parcels show up without extra fees. Oh, & they also have plastics & nylon type stock too. You can't get out of the shipping component, metal is heavy so you pay. But I did a couple test orders & it worked out pretty reasonable IMO. For this project I really don't have many options. I did notice many OLM materials were lower than typical MetalSupermarket even with FX exchange, so that helps. I got everything in a 1-foot length so it could come in same single box. The website allows picking onesey-twosey mode with no cut charge, so I got progressive diameters just for handy inventory. (How many times have wasted my 1.0" dia turning down to 0.60" because I didn't have 0.75" etc.)

On the aluminum front, I wish I knew of a local place to dumpster dive. Maybe machine shops keep their cut-offs to themselves these days? MetSup has 6061, but very little else. Aircraft Spruce (Canada division) has cut lengths of various alloys & shapes in 1 foot increments & so no cross border / exchange issues & pretty reasonable shipping. At least aluminum is lighter.
http://www.aircraftspruce.ca/menus/me/aluminum.html?UCOUNTRY=CANcharge
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#14
You also asked about fasteners. Locally there is Bolt Supply House (work day hours). Triad just shut down this year. Other places are mostly hardware / construction orientated type suppliers.

I've used KBC for my tooling needs & they offer typical fasteners - cap screws, set screws, washers, imperial, metric, usa, offshore.... http://www.kbctools.ca/
At some point, I'm not sure when, they started pricing their fasteners individually as opposed to min box quantity of 100's. So you can get 25 of these plus 50 of those for reasonable stock charge. The nice thing about KBC is flat 8.95$C shipping. So click-click, composite order shows up at your door within days. I want to support local places but just cant be bothered to take time off work to drive there anymore, only to find out they don't have stock or min qty orders anyway.

Travers (Canada) has much the same service as KBC http://www.traverscanadacatalogs.com/
I've heard about Spanauer (sp?) out east which back in the day was better for the micro thread stuff, but haven't used them myself. I figure a lot of this hardware is all coming out of Asia, so every distributer is a middle man. I've also got some good scores through ebay if you can wait a few weeks. I'm amazed at how they can offer free shipping. Lots of USA based suppliers, just read the shipping to Canada fine print first.
 

Mphenley

Member
Moderator
Premium Member
#15
There's the "new" Reno Depot store, seems like the only location is in Symon's Valley, but their stock in the misc hardware section is actually organized and stocked. Full aisle of assorted fasteners and hardware, most of which in the little drawers like they used to be at Rona or Totem. Metals were typically priced for box stores, but again was fully stocked and available, instead of the smattering of leftovers that most of the box stores have in the angle/flat/threaded/rod section. Fair amount of brass rod too, up to 3/8" diameter, I think.
 
#16
@Peter T - re fasteners...

I use Quest Industrial down near Blackfoot Trail. The guys there are awesome.

Never used Online Metals, but I have used Speedy Metals out of the US. Shipped to Montana and picked up there... chunk of cast iron.
 
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PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#17
I haven't looked into it yet, but my RC buddies have been shipping some largish kits to Montana & picking up at some border location. Seems like shipping is reasonable within the US, then picks up a whack of expense the last 4 hours into Calgary. The service that will hold for them & allows multiple packages from different sources. Just curious if that's what you are doing?
 
#18
Hi Peter:

Yes, Montana Shipping Outlet / MSO has depots at both Eureka (crossing from west of Fernie in BC) and Sweetgrass (south of Lethbridge).

Have used Eureka pretty much exclusively. It is a bit of a trek, but makes for a good excuse to ride motorcycle out that way.

Someone indicated they were able to get stuff held at UPS nearer the Chief Mountain crossing, but not sure where that would be. Babb maybe? Would cut a few hours off of the trip.