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Chiefum

Mild Steel Pricing?

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So I've pretty much decided to just go to a scrap yard but I see odd prices for A36 steel. (I'm looking to make my first pair of tongs)

From my limited understanding, A36 is your run of the mill mild steel that works well for making tongs. So I found it on a website for maybe 4 bucks a bar in the size I was looking for. Then I saw the 20 something dollars in shipping and decided to look for someplace closer to Cincinnati to buy it from. It looks like the prices near me are somewhere around 37 bucks PER bar for the same size I was looking at earlier. I'm guessing they are including the cost it took to ship it to their location in the price?

Anyways, I'm just curious what you guys pay for mild steel for things like tongs? I'm trying to make my first pair so any help on keeping it cheap would be appreciated.

 

Edit* The pricing was for 3/4th inch thick, 1in wide, 36in long. and was 37.50.

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It is more that you pay a premium for anything less than a full length in the steel industry smaller hotrool bars will be stocked in a 20’ stock length

It is fairly common pratice to charge the cost of the whole bar if a customer wants a partial as tge steel supplier dose not want to track hundreds of short drops in thier invintory

i suggest trying the scrap yard to purchase by tge pound or if you are speaking to a steel supplier ask what a stock lengh is and what it costs ? It may supprise you to find it is the same price as tge 3’ short bar

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That's something I didn't know! I'll probably end up going to the scrap yard but I'll check and see what it costs for the stock length of steel. Thanks a lot for the information! 

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Good Morning, Chief

Don't create the wall that you MUST have that size material for Tongs. I know, what kind of Tongs? If it is your first pair of Tongs, I would start with something easily accessable. 5/8 or 3/4 round works for most starter Tongs, about 8-9" long each side. If you start with 1/2" round, you have to upset for enough mass for the hinge area. Square has more material than round bar. I make Pos-Tongs from 1/4-5/16, 1" flat bar (for under 3/4" Tongs), about 9" long.

Start with Play-Doh. Figure out the sequences with the Play-Doh in your hands, cold!! Steel works identicle to Play-Doh, except at a different temperature. Start at the jaw, then the hinge area, draw out the rein from the hinge area to the tip. ALWAYS tip last.

Don't create the box, allow your eyes to tell you what to do. Make sure you protect your eyes and ears. If you stick your tongue out and get a spark on your tongue, You will also learn not to do that again.

Neil

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Thanks, I've been meaning to get some playdough to do some practice and what not but just never got around to it. I'll probably pick up some tonight.

I've done quite a bit of research on tongs so hopefully from all the videos I've seen and your tips as well my first time won't be a total failure haha. Only time will tell I guess.

Also, I've gotten all my protective gear except the ear protection. I really should order that today...

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Also, consider getting some 3/8" x 1" and doing split rein tongs, like these:

 

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Try typing "steel distributors" as a search for Cincinnati, you'll find there's a lot.  All the places I've every done business with, have allow me to look at their short racks or scrap bin.  Better to know exactly what you're buying and the price will probably be better.  And if you want a bit more, you can always buy the 20 feet and cut it up there.

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$37.50 sounds a bit high. you could probably get it cheaper than that at the big box stores and I never recommend using them as a steel supplier. The big box store has 2" x 3/8" x 36" for $22.87 in my neck of the woods. That's the same amount of steel you're looking for - slightly different shape.

Have you shopped around for industrial steel suppliers that sell small orders retail?

What I often do is go in and order two 10' pieces of whatever size I want - short enough to tie to my truck or top of my car and get home with. They take a 20' and cut it in half. I figure any extra, I'll eventually use for some project, but even buying shorter lengths has never resulted in that high a price.

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On 7/11/2018 at 1:10 PM, JHCC said:

Also, consider getting some 3/8" x 1" and doing split rein tongs, like these:

 

 

I actually have a pair in mind from this guy off of youtube who teaches you how to make some basic tongs if you're lacking tools. Which of course I don't own much at this point. I don't have any punches or hot cuts or anything yet. I figure it all starts with making my first pair of tongs and I can go from there.

 

On 7/11/2018 at 1:11 PM, Gerald Boggs said:

Try typing "steel distributors" as a search for Cincinnati, you'll find there's a lot.  All the places I've every done business with, have allow me to look at their short racks or scrap bin.  Better to know exactly what you're buying and the price will probably be better.  And if you want a bit more, you can always buy the 20 feet and cut it up there.

That's actually how I found this company I'm working with right now. Cincinnati Metal Supermarkets. I need to look at a few more though and compare pricing. I did just send them an email about 20 minutes ago asking about offcuts etc. So hopefully that goes well.

On 7/11/2018 at 1:16 PM, John in Oly, WA said:

$37.50 sounds a bit high. you could probably get it cheaper than that at the big box stores and I never recommend using them as a steel supplier. The big box store has 2" x 3/8" x 36" for $22.87 in my neck of the woods. That's the same amount of steel you're looking for - slightly different shape.

Have you shopped around for industrial steel suppliers that sell small orders retail?

What I often do is go in and order two 10' pieces of whatever size I want - short enough to tie to my truck or top of my car and get home with. They take a 20' and cut it in half. I figure any extra, I'll eventually use for some project, but even buying shorter lengths has never resulted in that high a price.

I checked around Lowes and Home Depot and they didn't have anything in a useful size. I'm basically going to have to keep shopping around and see what I can find. I'm currently calling scrap yards but I'm not getting anything too helpful really. I'll probably switch back over to looking for steel suppliers and distributors. 

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Okay, hold the phone. If you don't have any punches or a hot cut, make those first! 

Also, "this guy off of YouTube" could be great or horrible. Some of the blacksmithing information on YT is terrific (and we have a page of recommended channels), and some of it is inefficient, poorly conceived, or even downright dangerous. Can you be more specific?

Getting back to the steel question, if you're really cheap frugal, you can buy a 20' stick and cut it yourself with a hacksaw.

My local steel supplier charges 75¢/lb for A36 drops, but it's luck of the draw what you get. If they had a chunk of ¾" x 1" x 36", that would be a bit under six bucks.

16 minutes ago, Chiefum said:

I'm currently calling scrap yards but I'm not getting anything too helpful really.

Ohio law prohibits scrapyards from letting members of the general public in for any purpose other than dropping off scrap. Might have better luck talking with your local scrappies and offering them a premium over what the yard would pay them, in exchange for them giving you first pick.

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Or if you can locate a metal fab shop or machine shop stop in and talk to them. I found a fab shop more local that gladly lets me in to pick through their drops and leftovers. Prices are always fair because most of the time they already got paid for it. 

 

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"That's actually how I found this company I'm working with right now. Cincinnati Metal Supermarkets."  They don't sound like a steel distributor, more like a retail store with high prices.

My current prices as of yesterday:  200 feet of 1/2 round and 200 feet of 1/4 round, total with delivery, $154.63 and that's up quite a bit since three months ago.  I don't deal in weight, so I had to look it up. 185.8 Lbs.

 

1 hour ago, Daswulf said:

Or if you can locate a metal fab shop or machine shop stop in and talk to them. I found a fab shop more local that gladly lets me in to pick through their drops and leftovers. Prices are always fair because most of the time they already got paid for it. 

 

When I worked at Stokes of England, we always did.  Most of the time, what you could carry was $20.

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I can’t help myself because I love digging for information online.  When searching for steel suppliers in Cincinnati I first found only companies who do commercial work and have no time for people walking in.  Then I searched for “public steel sales Cincinnati” and found more.  You can do the same search.  I found Alro Steel that sells all kinds of steel and plastic to the public as well.  They also sell online and are a chain.   Also, the metal supermarket that was already mentioned is a chain store that should have better prices.  There were more.  Do the digging and you will find something amazing.

Good luck, it’s out there,

Lou

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Thanks for all the help everyone! I'll be sure to read and respond a bit more tomorrow. I just got done with a 13 hour shift so I'm going to go pass out now. 

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If you are anywhere in the vicinity of a shop that makes railings, fences, or does general iron fabrication, then you should pay them a visit and ask if you can have odds and ends they would be discarding. What seems to you like a big piece of  iron is usually a very tiny piece to them. 

More often than not they will give you their discards free. As a friendly gesture it's nice to show them what you have made with their iron. 

I agree that you should be a little flexible on what size iron for tongs. I like 1/2 inch square . This shape is nice because there it's heavy enough for most beginners projects and it is also as common as dirt in any railing/fence/general iron fabricators shops

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If you aren't married to the idea of making your own tongs from bars of steel, there are guys out there who make preform cut tongs called "Quick Tongs" or "Rapid Tongs" that are very easy to make.  A kit that makes 4 sets of tongs costs only $44.  This kit will give you all the tongs you need to get going.  Use a pair of vise grips to make the first pair that will hold the other 3 pair.  Google "quick tongs" and you will find the website.  I use these kits and they are pretty easy to make a great pair of tongs from.  I think I managed to give you info without advertising for the guys out there that own these sites :)

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SO in case anyone was interested, I found a place 10 minutes from me that's pretty cheap and they sell small amounts or large amounts.

1 piece of A36 3/4'' thick by 20ft long is only 21 bucks... They also sell offcuts and whatnot! So I think I've found where to get my mild steel from.

Now I just need to find a place to get some good steel for Hot cuts and punches ect. Those I imagine need to be hardened so I need to do some research on what steel I need to find for those.

Thanks everyone for your tips and information! 

10 hours ago, MC Hammer said:

If you aren't married to the idea of making your own tongs from bars of steel, there are guys out there who make preform cut tongs called "Quick Tongs" or "Rapid Tongs" that are very easy to make. 

I'll probably try to make my own for now. If I fail too many times then maybe but we'll just have to wait and see. I would have to get pretty frustrated to give up on it though.

20 hours ago, dickb said:

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of a shop that makes railings, fences, or does general iron fabrication, then you should pay them a visit and ask if you can have odds and ends they would be discarding. 

I'll keep this in mind and keep an eye out for these kinds of places near me.

Side note, I would love to make fences at some point.

21 hours ago, Lou L said:

 I searched for “public steel sales Cincinnati” and found more.  

 

Thanks so much for this tip. Beacuse of this search  “public steel sales Cincinnati”. I came up with a company that recommended 2 places near me that I'm pretty happy about the prices and they sell offcuts!.

On 7/11/2018 at 3:54 PM, Gerald Boggs said:

My current prices as of yesterday: 200 feet of 1/2 round and 200 feet of 1/4 round, total with delivery, $154.63

 

Xxxxx, that's a lot of steel for not much money. What are you using all of that metal for?

On 7/11/2018 at 1:27 PM, JHCC said:

Okay, hold the phone. If you don't have any punches or a hot cut, make those first! 

Also, "this guy off of YouTube" could be great or horrible. Some of the blacksmithing information on YT is terrific (and we have a page of recommended channels), and some of it is inefficient, poorly conceived, or even downright dangerous. Can you be more specific?

The YouTube channel Black Bear Forge is the guy I was talking about.

What metals are acceptable for making punches and hot cuts? They need to be hardened, correct? So I need to make another order of carbon steel. Also yes, I jumped the gun and ordered some carbon steel for making knives way too soon haha.

Edited by Mod34
Excessive quoting and inappropriate language removed

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Fancy alloy steels aside, you can make perfectly acceptable punches and chisels out of coil spring. My favorite hot cut was made from a heavy jackhammer bit, just as in one of the Black Bear Forge videos (an excellent resource, by the way). 

Read over some of the threads about re-purposed and junkyard steels. Lots of really, really good information on the forum, if you look for it.

(Also, you are really overusing the quote feature, and are probably about to get reprimanded for it by the moderators. Please reread The Quote Feature.)

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1 hour ago, Chiefum said:

Xxxxx, that's a lot of steel for not much money. What are you using all of that metal for?

Stuff, making stuff is what I do for food.  I was closed for a month, so times are slow.  Once I'm back to up, I'll go through that and more in a couple of weeks.

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