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andrew lyner18/10/2018 23:04:26
42 forum posts

People will probably say that I have not gone about this in the right way but I have been buying my bits of aluminium and steel from eBay sources.

Some of the steel I have used leaves a very 'gritty' finish and doesn't seem to produce nice spiral swarf whatever I do about grinding tools or the angles I use.

The way they behave seems to be pretty varied. I realise that there are other factors due to my inexperience but is it safe just to order 'steel' rod or profile from eBay. If not, what would be a good source? How should I specify what I want?

. . . . and I realise this is a 'how long is a piece of string? question,

clogs19/10/2018 04:46:47
416 forum posts
12 photos

Andrew,

u can often u can do well from the BAY....so don't be to put off......u have as much chance buying decent material in a scrap yard as from the BAY....!!!!!!!!!!!!

generally it just depends on what ur doing and how much steel / material u'll need...

most steel's and ally can be bought in 1m lengths or less from most suppliers...even sometimes stock holders.....personal visits work best......

depends how lucky u are to be close to a stockist.....paying cash help...esp after a while when they get to know u......

most engineering / fabricating shops will sell or give away short lengths of known quality......just knock on a few doors.....

I use a guy reg and often drop in for a brew and unload a case of beer, keeps em sweet.......hahaha.......

there are a few on-line suppliers but u need to compare prices, as 1 in prticular sell's at very inflated prices but OK for the odd special requirement........

I tend to buy most steels in 6m lengths up to 35-40mm dia and have about £1,000 invested in st/st, brass and bronze in various sizes but I do get thru it quite quckly and it's more profitable to have usable material in stock than money in the bank...esp when u live in the BOONIES......(ps. supposd to be retired, hahaha).........

you could of course split the material with a freind to get better prices....(usually buying more helps with the price)......

hope this helps a little....clogs......

XD 35119/10/2018 05:57:22
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1056 forum posts
42 photos

I buy a lot of or most of my materials through ebay but you really need to know what you are looking for , there are many grades and types of steel , aluminium , brass , bronze , and cast iron .

Some machine beautifully others will have you pulling your hair out in clumps !

The only time i buy from a mechant is if i need a specific grade of steel which is pretty rare for me , i scored some lengths of 40mm black steel bar a few years back and even though it is not the nicest to machine it was free so if i have to give a part a bit of a polish with some emery after machining I don’t care as it was free !

If you want steel that machines well look for free machining steel or bright steel .

JasonB19/10/2018 07:02:37
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Moderator
13722 forum posts
1282 photos

The problem with buying from an item that says "steel bar" is you just don't know what grade you are going to get and that is why you are getting mixed results. If you stick with adverts that say EN1A steel or 230M07 you will get a freecutting one.

Same with Aluminium alloys if it does not say you could get allsorts, look for 6082T6 or at least the 6082 bit

Chris Evans 619/10/2018 07:43:02
1268 forum posts

Your approximate location/county would help. I use a steel stockholder about 12 miles from me, very useful.

John Hinkley19/10/2018 09:21:02
avatar
619 forum posts
198 photos

I assume that you are in the UK, so my sugestion is:

**LINK**

He's on eBay, always dispatches my orders quickly via courier and specifically lists EN3 and EN3B steel as well as aluminium and brass in his eBay "shop". I've only ever bought BMS from him and it always machines well. I don't need to have thousands, or even hundreds of pounds tied up in stock, so most of my orders are less than £10 a time for odd lengths, just enough to cover what is needed for a particular project, with a bit to spare. If I could find a local steelholder who would allow a rummage in the off-cut bin in exchange for a contribution to the tea kiity, I would. In the meantime, eBay is my first port of call.

I should say that I've also used M-Machine-Metals in Darlington in the past with good results. **LINK**

John

Pete Rimmer19/10/2018 10:18:59
153 forum posts
Posted by andrew lyner on 18/10/2018 23:04:26:

People will probably say that I have not gone about this in the right way but I have been buying my bits of aluminium and steel from eBay sources.

Some of the steel I have used leaves a very 'gritty' finish and doesn't seem to produce nice spiral swarf whatever I do about grinding tools or the angles I use.

The way they behave seems to be pretty varied. I realise that there are other factors due to my inexperience but is it safe just to order 'steel' rod or profile from eBay. If not, what would be a good source? How should I specify what I want?

. . . . and I realise this is a 'how long is a piece of string? question,

Local sources are always best I have found. Small engineering firms or fabricators If you approach at the right time of day (go armed with biscuits just before 10am is a good trick) and don't make a nuisance of yourself/try to tell them your life story they will often be very friendly and let you rummage through their scrap bin.

A little thinking out of the box can do wonders too. I once bought a Coronet wood lathe for £40 off gumtree because I wanted the motor. The bed was 2 stout steel bars about an 1-3/4" diameter. I still have some of one of those bars left somewhere.

If you're lucky to have a small supplier nearby don't discount buying new stock. I got 2x3m lengths of .75" EN8DN free-machining bar yesterday for £48 locally. The first hit I got on eBay has it at £7.50/12" so 3x the price If you buy in person whilst you're there, you can ask about off-cuts of other materials. If you're looking for several diameters and have time to spare, buying one length of the largest diameter and turn it down to suit.

Neil Wyatt19/10/2018 10:52:34
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Moderator
14723 forum posts
628 photos
72 articles

The IRONy is that you have probably been sent a more-expensive high-carbon steel if it's that difficult to machine to a decent finish!

Wherever you buy from, as others have said it pays to choose a specific material and grade. The question is then which one is the best for my needs?

That scoundrel "Stub Mandrel" has put some advice on choosing and using mild steels and high-carbon steels here:

www.stubmandrel.co.uk/model-engineering/164-mild-steel

www.stubmandrel.co.uk/model-engineering/165-high-carbon-steels

Neil

andrew lyner19/10/2018 10:55:13
42 forum posts

Thanks for yet another useful set of advice and opinions.

i really would like to use a 'local machine shop' or small manufacturer as a source of offcuts. However, I have not been able to find anything of the sort in my area, which is West Essex. All the hots I get from a search seem to take me to 'fabricators', who make things with sheet metal or steel fences and gates (wrought iron work). I am amazed that East London isn't littered with the sort of places described in the above posts.

Scrap dealers just don't want to know. I have visited or rung all the ones advertising locally on the internet. The big ones quote Health and Safety as a reason for not dealing with the public and the small ones seem to have discarded versions of the sheet metal work that the local shops produce. I must be pressing the wrong buttons somewhere. I would have thought that the East end of London and beyond should provide rich pickings.

I'll have a look at LINK and Tracy have a site which is hard for me to use because the pages seem to be messed up with the non-printing images.

Pete Rimmer19/10/2018 11:20:03
153 forum posts

To buy scrap you have to be licensed so almost no scrap dealer is going to tell you over the phone that they'll let you go hunting because they'll never know if it's the environment agency testing them out. You gotta go in person, pop in the office and ask who is the best person to talk to about buying a couple of bits of round. Bonus is they always separate non-ferrous so brass/bronze/copper is always pre-sorted and always kept separate out of the way so the customers don't help themselves.

andrew lyner19/10/2018 11:22:48
42 forum posts
Posted by Pete Rimmer on 19/10/2018 11:20:03:

You gotta go in person, pop in the office and ask who is the best person to talk to about buying a couple of bits of round. Bonus is they always separate non-ferrous so brass/bronze/copper is always pre-sorted and always kept separate out of the way so the customers don't help themselves.

Good idea, thanks. Anything is worth a try and I'll make a few visits once I have a shopping list.

Pete Rimmer19/10/2018 13:37:54
153 forum posts

If you're looking for non-ferrous you might try Bermondsey Metals on Druid St just South of Tower Bridge. They are open from 7am Saturday morning (or at least they used to be) so there's no congestion charge. Call them up.

SillyOldDuffer19/10/2018 14:40:48
3414 forum posts
669 photos

Posted by andrew lyner on 19/10/2018 10:55:13:

...

Scrap dealers just don't want to know.

...

That's my experience too. It probably varies with where in the country you live. Both my local scrap yards used to be accommodating and would let people wander around. Now they're protected by barbed wire fences, dogs, and discouraging notices. They're much happier to buy metal than sell it, I think because most scrap is sold abroad in bulk.

Couple of other reasons why they're less welcoming. Scrap yards are dangerous and the business will be liable for an injury. Also there's been much done to discourage the high level of criminality associated with scrap metal dealing. (Not only do the bad boys fence railway signal cable, church roofs and cast-iron street furniture, they nick stuff off each other.)

For the reasons you've found buying off ebay, I'm not keen on scrap anyway. Trying to use it caused me bother when I first started. As a beginner you don't know if it's you, the machine, the tooling or the metal. The problem with scrap is you don't know what it is. As there are many alloys and heat treated metals out there that do not machine well, results can be very disappointing. Brass is fairly safe, but scrap Bronze, Steel, and Aluminium can all be vile.

My local metal seller has a low profile and doesn't advertise much. Most sales are to professionals. Although he does sell small quantities, he's not keen to spend time sorting out amateurs. In fact positively rude to chaps looking for free advice and bargains! I get on much better now I ask directly for what I want and spend a decent amount of money on each visit. They know I'm not messing about and are much more helpful. Apart from them there are a several online retailers like MetalSupermarket.co.uk, and those like Noggins End, who specialise in modelling materials. From whoever, buy metal intended for machining. Mild Steel (often sold as EN1A) is good, but the leaded variety is joy!

Dave

Jon19/10/2018 20:24:32
896 forum posts
45 photos

As Jason said, getting from a scrap dealer you dont know what your getting.
Anything could have happened, what if the chunk of aluminium 6082 has had a blow torch on it destroying the tempering, you would unwittingly dismiss all aluminiums as the same garbage.

Unless its a large order from same supplier within easy travelling distance i get nearly all my stuff from ebay. Just avoid the monkeys that dont specify the grade theres dozens of legit business on there.

duncan webster19/10/2018 23:18:36
avatar
1704 forum posts
10 photos

Neil's links give very good advice, but I'd avoid welding EN8 unless you really know what you're doing. He doesn't mention the S275/S355 structural steels. Very easy to weld but a right pig to get a decent finish when machining. Don't cut a bit out of a girder to make your con rods. Someone will now jump in and tell us that's exactly what he did and attach a photo of a masterpiece
I'd echo most of the advice above, in particular for most jobs EN1A will do, if it's strong enough, stronger is not better, and it's so easy to use

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