Randy

Metal and Pricing Frustration

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Time to do some venting. Mainly in regards to the steel industry. First this change to A36 from 1018 is a pain the buttocks. The A36 is much harder than the 1018 even when hot, therefore more energy to hammer it. It just doesn't move as fast so more time hammering. Where I used to be able to nick 1/4" round on my hardie and then break it off cold, the A36 put a big half round gash in my hardie. If I request the 1018 the yards just say they can't get it that the A36 is the industry standard now. I've found the other online, but then the shipping costs eat you up.

Next problem is the pricing of steel today. They say that the prices haven't gone up, but they sure did on my bill! The smaller the stock the more the price per pound, due to it takes more work to make the smaller material. The hot rolled stock I got on Friday ran me from $1.56 per pound for 3/4" square up to $2.78 per pound for 3/16" x 3/4" flat. Oh, and this flat stock wasn't even hot rolled. It was sheared which I specifically said I did not want. Now also included in the price per pound was labor. $75.00 per hour to cut the pieces in half, from 20 footers to 10 footers. Now we all know that's one cut per size, they don't cut one piece at a time, but that's how they figure things. Next time I'll cut it myself. It used to be a service that they offered free of charge.

So now I'm supposed to raise my prices on my work to reflect the added cost of my metal, the extra time to forge it, band saw blades wearing out faster, etc. and in this economy??? I know this isn't a new issue, but these latest prices just brought it to the forefront again for me.

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I know the feeling... some suppliers are better than others. I have a small yard in a rural community that would be hard to beat for price OR service. They are a bit of a drive so I go rarely but try to stock up as much of my needs there as I can. I have another yard where I can order 16 foot lengths (uncut) and they will want to know what sizes I will use from them... if I tell them my order will be all cut up when I arrive at most exorbitant rates!?!! I never returned to the latter yard!

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The local steel yard stopped folks from getting drops from their dumpsters at $/pound as they now scrap their own materials.

Have you looked at the price of lumber? Antifreeze is now the same price but is pre-mixed 50/50 (for your convenience) so you can just pour it into the vehicle. At $4.00+ per gallon of gas there was a fuel adjustment fee added to your purchases. The cost of fuel is now $3.39 here but the adjustment remains.

Not just steel, it is now throughout the market place. Folks no longer keep "some on hand" but they now buy only what is needed for the job. The value of the family car depends on how much gas is still in the tank.

On the bright side, the resource center (scrap pile) now has a real value.

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Eight 1/2" x 1/2" x 20' hot rolled bars, delivered, or pick up, cut in half ...$100.00 A large acetylene ,delivered $115.00 . 100 gallons propane, $100.00 , all very expensive, so why should my prices be cheap?

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Sorry, I have to ask, your propane is $1 a gallon? Who is your supplier? I usually go to a propane filling station (local hardware store or fuel company)... I'm paying more like $4 a gallon and would love to cut my costs back :).

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I buy 1018 all the time but it is cold roll ( flat bar ,square or round ).
I get decent prices but I buy an awfull lot of steel ( generally a mixture of stainless and carbon )
I have everything delivered in full lengths as most suppliers deliver twice a week.
You can generally get most cold roll in either 12 or 20 foot lengths ( if you dont specify they will sell you the 20 footers )

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It's a smart practice to shop around and don't get too chummy with any one supplier....Some suppliers are eager to undercut their competition as much as 20% - 30%. The rub for me as well as others is that everything costs more and have to charge less in order to be competitive. Ah, the good old days........

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I buy 1018 all the time but it is cold roll ( flat bar ,square or round ).
I get decent prices but I buy an awfull lot of steel ( generally a mixture of stainless and carbon )
I have everything delivered in full lengths as most suppliers deliver twice a week.
You can generally get most cold roll in either 12 or 20 foot lengths ( if you dont specify they will sell you the 20 footers )



I always have trouble forge welding cold rolled steel. I’ve been told it is because they add sulfur to the mix to facilitate the rolling. Not sure if that is true but I stay away from it and only buy it for machine work.

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The supplier that I have been using for over 35 years just sold the business to the owner’s nephew and everything changed. Used to be that they had a shorts rack where you bought at scrap prices. Shorts to them were anything under six feet. You put what you pulled on a scale and paid by the pound. That price went up or down depending on the market. Now there are not many shorts in the rack and the price is up in the clouds.

Also, the nephew is changing the business form a supplier/fabricator to mostly construction steel fabrication so he doesn’t even want to stock small sizes and is often out of stock or doesn’t carry it anymore. And the prices for stock are almost double what you can get it for elsewhere. So my theory is that if another fabricator wants to buy steel from them that fabricator can not compete with the price this guy wants for fabricated work.

They also used to charge $5.00 for the first cut and $2.50 for each cut after that or not at all. That’s gone now too. And there is no making deals anymore. It cost what the book says it cost. Take it or leave it.

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I guess I,m lucky. I buy drop off from my employer (kawasaki Motors Mfg) for scrap prices. What ever the local scrap dealer pays them. It's been around 20 cents a lb but Ive payed as little as 9 cents. I get alot of hot and cold rolled 1/4" to1 1/2 round . the lengths are up to 36 to 40 in. I also get tubing round, square and rectangle up to 3 x 3 in. some plate got 2 pieces of 1/2 plate 6 x 4 ft for $80 made a great work welding table. I also get a lot of old tooling old weld fixtures, bender dies and press die parts. I just do this as a hobbie making yard art and other art work so I just keep an eye on the scrap hoppers and pull out what I can use.

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I buy all my industrial gasses from National Welding Supply in Baton Rouge, but $1.00 a gallon seems to be the current re-fill price here, if you are not swapping tanks at the local convenient store, Actually I do almost all forge heating for power hammer and scroll bending with natural gas, by far the cheapest fuel going.

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Right, Mr grant I was thinking gallons when I should have said POUNDS. That is the size of the upright propane tank they deliver. The whisper daddy will not run on natural gas. So if I forge weld, propane is required. For all else I do in a gasser I use blown natural gas. Down here coal is expensive and hard to get. But how I love using it.

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I have found you have to shop around for steel. Often one place will be cheaper for one thing and more expensive for another. I buy my 4140 and 4340 from EMJ for about half the price the local place charges. However I tacked on a bunch of misc mild steel one or two bars of each size to a $1000 order.of 4140. The mild steel was about 1 1/2 times the price of the local place I usually buy mild steel where I can pick up 1 bar at a time. When I am buying just a few bars of mild steel I just pick it up at the local place but, when I am looking for a lot of something, really heavy bars or alloy steels it pays to shop around.

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i cant get A36 up here its all 1018, have to order in hight carb tho


Are you sure Joshua? Do you get mill test reports when you get the steel. When I get hot rolled mild steel sometimes I get A36 sometimes 1018 and sometimes 44W.

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Are you sure Joshua? Do you get mill test reports when you get the steel. When I get hot rolled mild steel sometimes I get A36 sometimes 1018 and sometimes 44W.

ya when i buy at the local place they give you a report on the type of steel and some specs on it, i also get a TON of cutoffs anything under 10ft is considered a cutoff, and none of the fabricators buy cutoffs and the owner likes me so i get them cheap.... so i get a lot of known steel, and even more unknown steel

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I never thought I would hear someone in Pennsylvania speak of steel supply problems and it doesn't comfort me but rather sounds like the end of the world.

Hot rolled, A36 structural bars, flats, channels, angles, etc. are pretty much junk steel compared to cold rolled 1018 and yes, I too have torn up some saw blades cutting that crap.

I'm starting to believe that with the abundance of manufacturing in China there IS less steel supply here. I just hope things can get better or else my Blacksmithing hobby is gonna go down the toilet with the rest of the country. I feel for all people who like to mess around with this stuff because it doesn't seem to be getting any cheaper. Regards, Spears.

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Boy I am glad I'm a hobby smith and scrounger. I tend to do projects from my scrap pile which helps hold down materials price. I spent 2 hours at the local junkyard Saturday morning and spent about 15 cents a pound for the low carbon, medium carbon, high carbon and real wrought iron in shapes and sizes I could use. (of course if you count the time it's a dead loss but I factor that in as "entertainment")

When I have to buy new steel I first go to a local (2 miles from my shop) fabricator, they make and repair old fashioned windmills. As they get a better rate the bigger their orders are they sell steel on the side and will even piggy back orders for you. All at a much better price than the local lumber yard sells steel. (and that is better than a big box store which is 60 miles away to boot)

Now when I can I will pick up steel at a big supply place in the city when I'm making a trip up there anyway as it's nearly 100 miles to one and 150 to the other.

My biggest "find" besides the wrought iron and the silver smithing stake, was a section of steel grating to serves as an aggressive goat head removal system near the back door. Been wanting one for a while that was deep enough that you couldn't pick them back up after knocking them off. Those of you who are not familiar with goatheads are just plain lucky!----Of course I haven't seen any poison ivy in the last 8 years either.

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You know what really sucks... (Just to add my own little rant...) On the farm where I "help out" there is tons of old scrap steel, the guy (my boss) there won't give/sell it to me because he doesn't think I can use it (XXX). Instead he has some scrappers coming in this week to clean it all up..... Then he tells me how hard it would be to make a living off of blacksmithing.. I've worked for almost free in his machine shop for about 4 years (most of that time was 50+ hour weeks...) and I can't even get some cheap steel to help with my expenses... I guess I'll just follow the scrappies to the yard and buy it back...

Sorry guys.... now back to your regularly scheduled thread....

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I have found that mild has gone up in price a bit yet alloy has not really moved that much, OK I normally buy about 2 ton of 4140 a month but even so, prices move around any way. We did have a big price hike on alloy about 2 or 3 years ago but the price as come back now to something I am comfortable with now. Almost all of the alloy I am buying now comes from the land of the funny writing, no aussie steel to be seen, only maybe some mild, and hey we still make 90mm dia 4140 for some reason, and its way cheaper than the wang dong brand too $1.80/KG (81 cents Au per Lb), go figure.
The biggest prob we are having here is skilled labour, cause of our mining boom the mines are paying up to $50.00/hour for a 2nd class welder on permanent wages. How are we supposed to compete with that, hence I am desperate for trained staff. About 3 years ago I had 7 persons working for me, now I have one apprentice, almost all the rest have been pinched by the mines, I must be doing too good of a job training my guys though, they always get snapped up pretty quick.

Phil

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On the propane pricing, I just got two small tanks, bbq, refilled, not exchange, and it cost $31.50 total for both of them.

On the steel topic, when I started forging back in the '70's it was 35 cents a pound for any size. Seemed like it stayed at that price for about 15 years. Then it jumped up to $1.35 a pound plus higher for smaller stock. Now it's nuts. Wish I could get a supplier with 1018 and wrought iron. Maybe there's a business waiting to happen.

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I pay $75-76 per 100 pounds propane tank...I'm getting a 1 million BTU natural gas line put in this month (before the snow hopefully) to offset that cost. it should be a break even deal in five years.

Steel:
Mild steel I get from a local fab shop and he will cut and allow me to pick from his cut offs on most things. His price changes with mood on occasion, but its always fair. Far better than getting it anywhere else.
I got rid of my forklift years ago and he lends me one from time to time as needed as well as acts as a staging are for larger machines I buy from time to time.
I like to keep him happy with the odd job when he asks.

He has no tool steels so that I find as needed and buy in what is bulk for me...200 to 2,000 pounds when I do.

Ric

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Chris, start getting in good with the scrappers and have them bring "good stuff" over to you for "first refusal".

I have a scrapper doing that for me and we don't even speak each other's language fluently. (I am so happy I switched from French to Spanish as soon as I was allowed in school!)

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