Steel Fab

Dose anyone know where to look for steel fabricators that are not $$$$$. I desined a table stand and tried a couple of local links from Thomas.net but they want $1500 to $4000 for the same sketch! And yet, when I go into Crate an Barrel I see almost exactly what I want for $300 retail.

I know there is discounts on quantity, but retail is usually 3x the cost so in reality, the store is getting it made somewhere for $100.

The whole steel fabrication thing seems so scamy to me. Instead of an hourly rate they say things like “how much can you afford?”

There has got to be some place in America that people can get stuff made that is not sky high. Any ideas?

Are you talking “sketch” or dimensioned engineering drawing? Have you spec’ed the materials, welds, and finishes you want or are you just “leaving it up to them”. If you don’t clearly specify everything a lot of pro fabricators see it as a pain in the neck (for a fixed price, they’re going to have to hold hands through the project, and the probablility of re-work goes up, which diminishes their profit margin.)

As far as “how much can you afford” goes, it’s a polite way of saying, “I’ve got enough on my plate and don’t need your one-off business.” There’s nothing ‘scammy’ about it. Don’t take it personally and look for another outfit.

And as far as $1500-4000; hard to say if that’s fair since we can’t see your “design”. I mean, is it straight legged, or do you have lots of big radius bends, mitred corners; is it square tube, round tube, flat stock; carbon steel, stainless steel, MIG, TIG, brazed joints, etc. It all affects the degree of difficulty of fabrication which = $$$

There has got to be some place in America that people can get stuff made that is not sky high. Any ideas?

Learning to fabricate isn’t hard, welding either for that matter, build it yourself…?

Or look in the yellow pages for guys who do ‘ornamental iron’. The ThomasReg is for heavy-duty industrial types with BIG overheads and BIG hourly rates.

Thanks for your feedback, I didnt want to go into a lot of detail here as I am just seeking general advice. But it is really straght forward, straight leges, no bends, Round tube and flat stock.

I cant do it myself because I live in an apartment building with no real tools or a garage where this kind of work would be permited. In a big city, space is a premium and most of us do not live in a typical suburban house with a big back yard and double garage.

I tried the yellow pages, thats not exactly new. Only a few places listed. There has got to be some kind of organization or site that lists independent shops or local places, so back to my origional question: Anyone know where to look for a metal fabricator?

hey ucbm,

Well, I certainly understand the apartment dwelling situation; my old landlord never did get over me doing fiberglass motorcycle fairings in my second bedroom. Stinky but not quite as flammable as welding; ya gotta do what ya gotta do…

I live up here in the ‘sticks’ (as compared to LA) and know two guys that do custom iron work; handrails, spiral stair cases one week, funky yard ‘art’ the next, and fab a motorcycle trailer the week after that. Pretty much whatever walks through the door.

If you can get me a dimensioned drawing I’ll run it over to their shop. That said, I’m not sure if they have a FAX; I’ll check. If they do you could just send it directly to them. FAX me??? My FAX died about a year ago and I refuse to buy a new one…

Try mfgquote.com. You’ll probably get at least 10 quotes. I have found some great inexpensive machining suppliers there. You will get more quotes if you provide good drawings.

And you have to expect prices for one-off welded stuff to be a little high. They still have to make fixtures, etc. It’s a pain in the ass for a busy shop, but a one man shop will make the effort because they need the work right now. The Crate and Barrel piece is made in Asia where labor and material costs are much lower, and they are making them in the thousands.

You can also get a rough idea for what your material cost is by checking onlinemetals.com (which is usually 25-50% higher than the wholesale prices a fab shop will pay).