Newbie question....Where to buy metal???

I'm obviously new to this "hobby" and was wondering where an individual can buy metal for projects? I live in the Houston, TX area and all I can find
are places that only sell in bulk to companies, not to individuals. I know you can order some of it online, but I guess I'm looking for a Home Depot of welding supplies so I can go and browse for what I'm looking for....
Specifically, I'm looking for stuff like square tubing and some stainless stuff to toy around with.
Thanks for any info, Keith
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Most big cites have at least one place that will sell steel in small quantities to an individual. Check under both steel and scrap metal in the yellow pages. Some machine and welding shops that stock a lot of metal for their own use will do this to make a little extra $ on the side. Keep asking around, you'll hit a place. Also, try asking at your local welding supply shop, they'll know the different suppliers in town.
Good luck-
Paul T.
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can
Check out OnlineMetals.com. They sell in small quantities, and are happy to work with hobbyists.
Disclaimer: the owner is a good friend of mine.
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i found one over the weekend i kind of liked...i don't know if the prices are good or not because i'm not well trained price wise.
www.onlinemetals.com
they have a variety of metals to choose from including plastics and titanium.
-ry

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Check with www.decorativeiron.com and then, since you live in Houston, and they have a store in Houston, GO THERE. It is on S. Wayside, I believe. They are a supermarket for design components, and will awe you with the selection and styles. They will either have what you need in the line of raw steel, or will tell you where to get it.
Visit the site listed above, as it is very interesting for the hobby project guy. You can buy weld-on thinguses that will make you look like real pro. As mentioned by others, get on the phone and call around. Most houses will sell small quantities, but you will pay more. When you find one that will sell to you, open an account. They will probably put you on with a limit, but pay just as soon as you get the bill, and they will give you a price break. Maybe not like the big dogs, but a price break nonetheless. BE SURE to pay your bill on time, and protect your source. They want you to be successful so you buy more steel.
Stainless is a different animal. My local supplier has it by the pound, and they have a lot of it, so getting some to practice on is not a biggie. Look around for fab shops, and they will usually sell by the pound. Sometimes if you get on good terms with them, they will cut and brake some for you for projects. Nothing like having your stainless sheared and broken by a real shop.
HTH. Just keep plugging. You'll get a bite.
Steve
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You can also buy just about any metal from McMaster-Carr. They sell small pieces(1 foot) and their prices are okay(not the cheapest or the most expensive). Go to the website: www.mcmaster-carr.com Hope this helps.
Harry

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Keith wrote:

Stuff to toy around with should be free or nearly free. Once you've seen the retail prices at a steel supplier, your enthusiasm for the hobby may wane. Keep your eyes and ears open, there is metal everywhere. When you really need a specific shape or length then shell out the cash.
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May not be relevant to the OP but I learned a few years ago that buying short lengths is just not worth it. I go to the steel stockholder and buy full lengths (6m =approx 20') of whatever grade and size I want. If it's small stuff, then I'll buy an assortment of sizes for stock. It all gets used and I pay the same, but get more, than if I went to a hobby supplier. The suppliers don't want to waste time with tiny orders but if you buy enough to throw 50 or $100 their way, then it should be enough to count as a cash sale.
Just my 0/2d worth
Mark Rand RTFM
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I also try to buy 20' "sticks" of whatever section I need--unless it is a larger, rather expensive section. One can easily go through a stick or two of angle or tubing making a cart or whatever. Any leftovers go in the stock rack.
The local place I go to will do a "courtesy cut" to get the sticks down to 2 x 10', which fit nicely on the roof rack of my 240 brick.
I pay US$0.45 per pound for mild and $3 for stainless at my typical supplier(s), but in Seattle there are many places to get the odd alloy or sized section.
I recently did a 15 1/2' concrete footing. I managed to get 4 sticks of #4 rebar bent over my 16' car. I had to use flags.
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago about the upsurge in metal suppliers that are happy to supply metal stock in any quantity to hobbiest metalworkers. I wonder if the recent crop of chopper/hotrod "fabrication" shows has anything to do with that trend?
Cheers,
Jeff Dantzler
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wrote:

I pay more for the 5'-10' drops, buck something. Often, when I need a 3' or so, they kick me out the door because it isn't worth the time to write a ticket. I bought a 12" stick of that little hobby brass that you find in hobby stores or Ace. They couldn't get a price out of the computer and said 'get outta here...'. Ace would have nailed me for a couple of bucks. The places that store the cut ends outside charge less, but it's a crap shoot on what you'll find and then you have to clean it (yes, even in dry arizona). Here's a trick... I have a pile of pea gravel in the backyard. I'll take a stick of rusty whatever and run it back n forth through the gravel and it takes surface rust right off. I did find a 20' bundle of 1 or 1.5 square tubing outdoors once that had a bend about 2' from the end. Must have been exciting when they dropped the whole bundle. Since it wouldn't fit the inside racks with the bend, they just put it out in the yard. Built the frame for a panel saw out of a couple of those, under $.50/lb USD.

Bumper straps. Lay the material straight out in front of the car and strap it together tight in several places. Drive over it. Lift it up to the bumpers and run straps around the bumpers and the material.
Joel. phx

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Ace Hardware, square, different guages of sheet, round, angle etc.

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I can't offer much help in your local search, but I can tell you that my local scrap yard is the cheapest place to pick up steel that I know of. Actually, last year they had a sale on small scrap pieces and I picked up some really good stuff for $0.25/lb. The only problem is I never really know exactly which steel I'm getting. For most projects, that's been OK...but in a couple of cases I've ordered online so I could get exactly the material I wanted.
Since a couple people have mentioned Online Metals, you may also wan't to look at metal express.
http://www.metalexpress.com
They have a pretty wide selection of a variety of metals and plastics, and will sell in small quantities. I usually compare prices from online metals, and metal express to see which is cheaper before buying. You *might* also want to check out Ebay. I use the aforementioned online metal suppliers as a price guide and hunt for deals on Ebay....sometimes you can pick up a piece of scrap that someone is trying to unload real cheap. When on Ebay...really watch the shipping/handling...dont' get scammed into bidding too much.
Todd

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In Houston I'd try this:
Metal Supermarket 13230 Hempstead Road Houston, TX 77040 Phone: (713)934-3838 Fax: (713)934-8889 snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net Hours: 7:30am-5:00pm
http://data.gointranet.com/cgi-bin/unitloc/metal/locator.cgi?cpage=main.html&cu=don%20andruik&clS0
They're part of a nation wide chain and the link will let you see the products they carry, but no prices, which isnt surprising in a time when prices are changing almost daily.
I've found the store near me (in Michigan) to be run by friendly, knowledgable people and they'll sell you as little or as much as you want. They carry a wide variety of products, and whatever little they dont have they can usually get in short order. Prices are quite reasonable.
Lp Ridge Custom WoodWorks Ypsilanti, MI
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Thanks for all the pointers. I'm going to Metal Supermarket today at lunch, it's about 20 miles from here!!!! I guess I'll be having a long lunch today.
Thanks again for all of your responses.
Keith
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Hi Keith -
I just broke up with on-line metal buying.
Try metal supermarket - cheaper than on line, local, small cuts, no mins, no shipping, people you can get to know & trust.
I'm in rochester NY & they have a local one here. Houston also show a store -
www.metalsupermarkets.com
Houston store: http://data.gointranet.com/cgi-bin/unitloc/metal/locator.cgi?cpage=main.html&cu=don%20andruik&clS0
Have Fun -
SMA
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I buy metal from mail order; MSC, Enco, and J&L. I buy metal in person with my car and the yellow pages.
--
A society that teaches evolution as fact will breed a generation of atheists
that will destroy the society. It is Darwinian.
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atheists that will destroy the society. It is Darwinian.

Aren't those 20' pieces of steel hard to get in the car?
When I first started, I was green as grass. I went to get some square tube. I ended up slinging it under the truck with chains. Luckily, I got it home. Then I made some holders to slide into the pockets in the back of the truck. They worked for a while, but then, with bigger purchases, they ripped out of the bed. Time for a real rack, but by then, I was set up and welding.
I have made and have seen some really creative and some really scary ways of getting steel home from the steel yard.
Steve
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This is a multi-part message in MIME format. --------------070909020700010004070606 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

I don't use 20' pieces for amateur gunsmithing, so I pay to have them cut. A Saab 900 will haul a dozen lambs or a dozen 4'x8' sheets of plywood:)

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On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 19:02:24 GMT, Clark Magnuson
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email

Whatthe?
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You've already gotten a number of helpful ideas, but here are a couple of other thoughts:
When I have needed particular shapes & sizes for particular projects, I have bought steel from various local fabricator shops, usually for a very good price, particularly if I didn't mind sorting through cut-offs and odd pieces. When I have just been wanting scrap to practice on, or for the odd small piece for a project, I have often been able to get some for free from the fab shops. In some cases, I have agreed to return the welded scrap to them to put back in their scrap bin for recyclying.
One other source not to be overlooked: Keep your eyes open as you drive around; people often put metal out in the trash, in the form of bed frames (relatively light angle iron, but good for some projects), appliances (thin sheet stock, maybe other shapes depending on the appliance), and pipes and poles such as were used for fences or clotheslines. I always ask to be sure, but so far no one has ever objected to my taking such stuff off their hands. A demolition site might also produce some useful scrap, but it may be harder to get permission to scavenge ...
This hobby *is* highly addictive, and it is easy to spend a lot of money on it -- but it is possible to do an amazing amount of metal working for a relatively small amount of investment, if you don't mind (or in my case, actively like) watching for good deals on used equipment, scavenging for stock, etc.
One word of warning about scavenging and/or going to the scrap yard: Be careful not only about what sort of metal you are getting (especially at the scrap yard), but also what is on it. Burning paint fumes are not too enjoyable to breathe; breathing burning zinc can cause some health problems (e.g., welding galvanized stock); and some coatings can kill you if you weld them and breathe the vapors ... or so I understand; I've tried very hard to avoid learning any of this by personal experience!
HTH, Andy
On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, Keith wrote:

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