View Full Version : Where do you get materials... cheap?

06-08-2005, 11:43 AM
Hello all... just now beginning to dabble in CNC, and I was wondering where you guys (and gals) go for raw materials. I was wanting to get a small block of aluminum to machine some housings out of and didn't know where best to look for it... It was much more than I was willing to pay to order it from McMaster-Carr... Aircraft Spruce is a little cheaper...

For my hobby needs, I was planning on calling all the local commercial machine shops and see if I could do some 'dumpster diving' for material, but thought I'd pose the question here first.

06-08-2005, 11:57 AM
Ya.. Dumpster diving for anything but boxes for packing materials is pretty much a historical activity as not many people throw out good stuff anymore..

Even in my small shop, we have 5 gallon buckets of copper/wire, aluminium, etc.
You can thank China for the prices...

Try a scrap metal yard... The machine shop is a good idea too but your more likely to buy a "drop" from someone than find something in the trash can out-back...

Metal(s) are very expensive today.. I bought steel plate a 1 1/2 years ago at $0.32 /lb . Today, that same steel plate is over $0.95 /lb.. (thank you china)


06-08-2005, 03:23 PM
been doing some 'dumpster diving' now and then. But i never really find anything for my machine work. Check your state there alot of new laws about this. Here in oregon it's illegal now because of identity theft. Stupid ticket cost more then the stuff you pick up in a year. So make sure no one is around when you do it and do it fast :P If a cop shows up be nice and play dumb :)

Scrap yard is where im getting most my stuff. Ebay is good for aluminum or other super high priced metals. but everything else the shipping kills you.

06-08-2005, 04:13 PM
been doing some 'dumpster diving' now and then. But i never really find anything for my machine work. Check your state there alot of new laws about this. Here in oregon it's illegal now because of identity theft. Stupid ticket cost more then the stuff you pick up in a year. So make sure no one is around when you do it and do it fast :P If a cop shows up be nice and play dumb :)

Yup... happened to me..

I was collecting boxes from the back of a furnature store.. (they always have the best boxes LOL).. I was in the middle of moving from one home to another..

Just as I was pulling around the corner of the store to leave onto the main street, a cop pulled in the other entrance and turned his lights on me..
It was 1 AM, I had gloves on (because sometimes there's sharp objects in the dumpsters) and a black mag light in my hand...

He asked me half a dozen questions, saw the 15 boxes I already had, and said have a good night....

I dont even know if its against the law here.. I figure I saved a tree, and some money in not having to buy boxes or bubble wrap... Cop never said anything about a law.. I guess Michigan is still safe..

06-09-2005, 12:43 AM
Try the larger metal recycling places for your pieces. Stop by weekly if you need something specific. Eventually you will get to know someone there and they will keep and eye out for it and set it aside for you. Tell them what you are building and what parts are needed. You might be surprised what they might set aside.

One of the places that I deal with set aside 10-NOOK EZM-3015 bearing blocks(brand new). They are double angular contact bearings in a block assembly. I got them all for $15.00, they retail for $300.00 each. What a deal.

As for "diving", it can be helpfull if you get written permission from the company. Just explain to them what you are doing with the materials. The permission thing has saved my butt several times at 10 pm. with spotlights in my eyes. Good luck!

06-09-2005, 08:02 AM
I was crawling from a dumpster once..a guy walked by a saw me. He smilled then wlaked up gave me $5 and said "here go eat some food".
I tried to tell him I was ok but he just walked away.

Idle hands
06-09-2005, 12:06 PM
Looking for scrap and rems is the way to go IMO. I have a small benchtop machine so I can't really use the bigger stuff anyway.

The machine shops is thinking along the right lines, but you might take it a step further and find THEIR supplier/s. If you are near any decent sized town/city say POP 150k+ chances are there is a volume supplier in town. I found one such supplier, they only deal in aluminum though. They have many grades and sizes, sheet, bar,rod etc. My last purchase from their rem bin was a 3 1/2" x 2" x 48" bar of 6061 weighing about 35 LBS. Not exactly sure what I will make with it yet, but some encoder housings for my servos are on the short list. At $1.70 per pound I couldn't pass it up. Check your local phone book under metal/aluminum /suppliers or something like that. Hope this helps, good luck with the search.

Chuck B.

06-09-2005, 12:27 PM
I found a local Metal supplier that sells Aluminum for $1.50/lb, but they do a much higher volume in steel. They also had Stainless for $1.95/lb - and a good bit of it too! Worth looking in your city for a large metal supplier like that. Also, check out Metal Supermarkets (http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/) and see if there is one local.

As for getting free stuff, I'll quote myself from another thread:

I actually made up some buiness cards that basically say I am a hobbiest that build robots/etc from scrap. The 'company' name on the card is Beauty Out of Trash and Surplus. :p

I go into all sorts of companies, hand them my card, and tell them if they ever have any scrap/machines/electronics/computers/etc - give me a ring and I will haul it away for free. Save them the dumpster charge.

You have no idea how much cool stuff I have received this way. Most companies are pretty friendly. I also take all the extra pcs (Pentium Is and IIs mostly) and donate them to my local Salvation Army - if they are usable.

I highly recommend doing something like this in your area, if you have the vehicle and the space. But...get your own name! :p

06-10-2005, 09:50 AM
'BOTS'... LOL that's great

I've been asking around, and looks like picking up 'drops' seems like a pretty good deal relative to just placing an order at McMaster. I'm also quickly learning to design things to minimize the chips that hit the floor, as that is good money gone (never really thought much about it when I wasn't picking up the tab for the material!)

I originally was designing my 'boxes' from a block that's machined out with one open end. I'm quickly discovering the value of just cutting the walls of the box and welding it together! Time to start practicing my welding!

06-10-2005, 03:21 PM
anyone here know a good place to buy scrap aluminum in orlando? i just pay $100 for shipping on 181lb of aluminum.

06-10-2005, 04:02 PM
Look in the Yellow Pages under Metals, Recycling or Metals-scrap to find your stuff. Here in Missouri, aluminum scrap can be bought at the recycler for anywhere between 50 cents to 1 dollar a pound.

06-19-2005, 12:13 AM
Where are you at in Missouri? I am looking for a local (St. Louis area) scrap metal dealer that I can get some cheap aluminum from.

06-19-2005, 01:39 AM
I live south of St. Louis in Jefferson county. The best place so far for finding scrap metals has been a place called Southern Metal Processing down on south Broadway in the city. Second favorite place has been Vince Jacks on Manchester, just west of Hampton.

Check out one of my previous posts on stuff.
post #14

I noticed that you are from Columbia. Would by chance that be in Missouri or Illinois.

06-19-2005, 01:50 AM
This is my source for materials.


It's a candy store. They get barend scraps from local shops.

06-19-2005, 02:09 AM
Looks like a fun place to go. If you like to go rooting for the odd ball stuff and of course the usual, this place is great too kill a whole day at. Besides the regular stuff upstairs, there is a basement full, several out buildings and a yard.


06-19-2005, 04:28 PM
I am from Columbia, IL. I'll have to check those places out sometime. I need to start building up my stock of raw materials.

06-19-2005, 04:35 PM
Did you get your Taig mill in yet.

06-19-2005, 04:36 PM
Yep, finally got it in and have been setting it up the past few weeks. I've only done some light CNC work on it (programming in manual code, running very simple programs, etc.) I hope to start in on some more in depth programs with more 3d geometry soon.