What materials to stock?

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awake

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No point in stocking up unless you have a definite project in mind.
Initially you got to buy or acquire in any other way what you need, eventually left over build up.
Starting a new engine I make a very detailed BOM (Bill Of Materials) including hardware and purchased parts like ball bearings and Oilite bushings.
Each part indicate the blank size needed, I can go in the shop and find if I can source there or I need to buy it.
I massage the data to reduce the sizes to buy, if I need 3/4" diameter and 5/8" dimeter short piece then I get a longer 3/4" piece.
Then try to order all I need in as few times as practical to minimize the shipping charges.
I found E-Bay often has the right size at a good price, but recently I found McMaster is selling shorter than full length bars beating E-Bay.
I'd say there may be different approaches for different folks. I tend to "stock up" anytime I find some free scrap material. I am selective (no matter what my wife says), only getting things that I expect to have value for the types of projects I do, but I hardly ever am looking for "just the right piece" for a current project. I don't have a huge amount of storage space, but I do have some, and this may be the key difference for different folks. With strategic use of shelving and odd corners of the garage, I have a decent "inventory" of materials that I have gathered over time. Thus, when I start a new project, I already have the material on the shelf. Of course, there is some dynamic interaction at work - I am likely to design my project based on the materials I have on hand, or adjust an existing design to suit what I have.

Of course, another factor at work is that I just simply like gathering up potentially useful materials and thinking about how I could make use of them, and I love to make something that cost me nothing in terms of materials because I could make the entire thing out of scrap that I scavenged for free. That probably reflects some sort of deep character defect on my part ... :)
 

Richard Hed

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I'd say there may be different approaches for different folks. I tend to "stock up" anytime I find some free scrap material. I am selective (no matter what my wife says), only getting things that I expect to have value for the types of projects I do, but I hardly ever am looking for "just the right piece" for a current project. I don't have a huge amount of storage space, but I do have some, and this may be the key difference for different folks. With strategic use of shelving and odd corners of the garage, I have a decent "inventory" of materials that I have gathered over time. Thus, when I start a new project, I already have the material on the shelf. Of course, there is some dynamic interaction at work - I am likely to design my project based on the materials I have on hand, or adjust an existing design to suit what I have.

Of course, another factor at work is that I just simply like gathering up potentially useful materials and thinking about how I could make use of them, and I love to make something that cost me nothing in terms of materials because I could make the entire thing out of scrap that I scavenged for free. That probably reflects some sort of deep character defect on my part ... :)
Or the opposite of a defect, as you are thimpfking ahead.
 

stanstocker

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Greetings,

As your interest in more along the lines of benchtop machine scale work I'd suggest skipping the scrap yards unless you have access to one that gets lots of brass or aluminum and sells at a fair price.

Usable pieces of aluminum in 6061 or better are great if you can get them at scrap prices, but don't waste time on boxes of small one inch off cuts so often seen at sales unless you like figuring out how to hold oddball shapes to machine, or in the case of round stock having half of it go the waste as you have to hold it while turning and the bit in the chuck isn't much use once it's down to half an inch or so.

A hunk of 3/8 extruded aluminum flat stock is very useful, not so much for parts, but for fixtures to hold stuff while machining.

It is useful to buy a selection of W1 and O1 drill rod in increments of 1/8 inch from 1/8 up to 3/4 inch. Nice clean metal, known properties, perfect for making small shafts, special cutters, punches, and other tooling. Some snowy winter evenings you just need to make a thick washer or something equally trivial but still needed. For adding a bit of style, you may also want to have some hex stock on hand.

Quite often you can buy ground flat stock in 12, 18, and 36 inch lengths. 1) Price shop - it's nuts how wildly prices vary by vendor. 2) A length twice as long often is much less than twice the price. In standard thicknesses might as well buy a longer stick.

It's a pleasure to work with clean metal with known properties rather than to spend half an hour cleaning up enough crud on a piece that you're willing to put in on or in one of your machines. And then finding out the metal isn't what you thought and all of your tooling leaves it looking like a rat gnawed the surface no matter what lube or cutter geometry you try.

Although not the lowest cost per pound, the folks at hobby metal do put together some nice assortments of round and hex stock in various common sizes.

Look over the Elmers plans, there are going to be some thicknesses and widths of material that come up more often then others. Wider stock can be useful, a 3 inch wide length of ground stock can be crosscut to make a 1 X 3 inch small engine base plate, but a 1 inch wide length of stock can't be cut to make a 4 X 3 inch base plate for the next engine.

Cheers,
Stan
 

SmithDoor

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I found recycling places aka junkyards will vary inventory and you have to go back every few months for fresh look.

Dave

Also, as I have a very good supply of metals at a local recycle place, so you might check out one near you.
 

Richard Hed

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I found recycling places aka junkyards will vary inventory and you have to go back every few months for fresh look.

Dave
Depending on how large the scrap yard is, you probably would want to go weekly, at least till you got your stomach full. The big one here in Moses lake, takes the stuff out by the train car load so it changes a lot in a short amount of time. Probably a two week cycle here. But I only go there when I am looking for a specific piece of material.
 

SmithDoor

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I found you had look for good selection and have in the shop.
If go to scrap yard looking a specific size normally you can find that size. But if you have inventory you may have found on pass visit.

After about 20 or 30 years it rarely I need to buy materials today it is on the shelf or something close.

Dave

Depending on how large the scrap yard is, you probably would want to go weekly, at least till you got your stomach full. The big one here in Moses lake, takes the stuff out by the train car load so it changes a lot in a short amount of time. Probably a two week cycle here. But I only go there when I am looking for a specific piece of material.
 

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