Recommended stock supplier?

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LancsRick

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I know there are a fair few retailers listed in the links thread in here, but what are people's suggestion for where to source brass and aluminium stock from please?

Context to this is that I've just obtained and restored a MyFord ML7 and I'm armed with a lot of recommended books and YouTube videos. What I'm lacking is stock to practice on, and I'll start with aluminium and brass rather than diving in for steel. Are there any recommendations on where to source stuff from please, either favourite picks from the list of links or other ways of scavenging. Thanks for any suggestions.
 

hawkeyefxr

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I use Ebay they are cheap and fast. Also look locally for metal suppliers, you can then pickup what you want saving postage .
 

TheTiddles

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Depends what you want really. Metals4U is my go to, but then I’m after cut to size extrusion and sheet. If you’re practicing on things, brass is a very poor choice, that’d be like learning to cook with ribeye steak.

When I need a little bit of brass etc I go to eBay, usually the cheapest unless I happen to be driving past a known supplier and all the cheap ones I do know of… have closed over the last two years
 

chaoticbob

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Much depends on what you see yourself using the lathe for in the future I suppose - if you're thinking to make brass/aluminium parts, then by all means get some practice with them. But if (like most I suspect) you're going to end up working mostly with steel there is no real reason not to start with it. I can fully understand why you might want to start with 'forgiving' metals because that was how I started when I got my first lathe maybe 15 years ago. It's a good strategy for learning basic control of the machine perhaps, but that's the easy bit - more difficult is getting a feel for turning speeds, feeds and tool geometry. These vary widely between different metals. A tool for turning aluminium is quite different from one for turning brass, and neither is optimal for steel. Speeds and feeds are different too, so experience with aluminium or brass isn't directly transferable to steel. Well, that's what I found anyway with HSS tools. It's a bit different with carbide if that's the way you're going. Your ML7 is a capable machine - just take light cuts (say 0.2mm in steel) to start with if you're nervous, and you'll gain confidence. The machine will tell you if it's unhappy long before you break it.

It's not a great idea to start out with salvaged metal because not all alloys, even if nominally the 'same stuff' (eg brass, aluminium alloy, steel) are equal. The first bit of steel I tried was a bar rescued from a skip - I now realise that it was an extension bar for an SDS drill - and it turned rough as a badger's pineapple. I though it was my technique, or the machine. Steel's steel eh? Not so.

If you do want to practice with brass, CZ121 is the 'gold standard' for machinability. For aluminium 6061T6 works well. For steel EN1A is about as good as it gets in my experience.

Suppliers I have used not mentioned by others are The Multi Metal Shop and Live Steam Models. The former is currently offering free delivery which is great for small quantities. I don't know about delivery costs for the latter because they're local to me so I pick up, but they can be cheap because they seem to price on the basis of what they paid for it. So if you want an odd size that's been sitting on the shelf for 10 years...
Good luck, Bob.
 

chaoticbob

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Ah, I see that the censorbot has picked up on the use of $ for S. I meant a badger's derriere, not pineapple.
Bob.
 

TFrench

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One of the first things I ever turned on the big lathe at work was a piece of 1" pipe that I skimmed down to fit as the handle for the toe jack. The finish was totally horrendous - partly because its gummy steel, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing. I keep it to remind me that however critical of my work I am, at least I'm not that bad anymore.
 

LancsRick

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Fantastic replies all, and thank you for the considered opinion Bob. Think I'll be doing some shopping this evening! Just need to finish cleaning up the tool holder and set up the drip oilers more accurately and I think I'm good to go, so need to get the stock ordered.
 

voyager

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local scrapyard let me rummage in the offcut bin for bits an bobs, only trouble is you are never sure what the grade is your getting, if i need a bit of chrome moly for instance it either metals4u as mentioned above or order from my local steel stockist, but you will pay a premium for small amounts.
 
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Hi, using a scrappie is all well and good but how do you know the difference between rusty mild steel and something like cast steel? If you can give it a spark test then all well and good. I also think beside scrappies you can often find scrap steel on farms in the form of worn out implements and commercial premises.
Just a word of warning get the geometry of your tool correct for cutting ferrous and non-ferrous materials.
 
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