Source for some hardware in better than corner store prices?
June 14, 2005 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Where do I find hardware items like this at prices that don't reflect one-off blister-pack purchases? I'm doing some small scale manufacturing (details below the fold) and per-unit prices matter - even $0.10 per piece makes a difference.

I've been making these in varying sizes for the last half year, and trying to apply some engineer mentality to the fabrication so I can make them with a materials cost and time cost that allows me to make a few bucks selling them. I've done pretty well with the exception of certain kinds of parts and could really use some pointers to quantity sources.

The problem is paying these kinds of prices. This example isn't horrible compared to the $3 that same thing costs in Home Depot, but it's still a price that reflects the small quantity blister pack packaging. For my purposes I'm happy to pay $10-15 for 100 but there's apparently no demand for that quantity in the HD/Lowes market and I'm not having any luck finding them online. Here's the stuff I need to find:

I found a source for sawtooth picture hangers by pure luck but it's an odd one - they do primarily restoration pieces and it could go away. So any source for these would be good.

Hanging wire is no problem but screw eyes are. Another thing usually sold in blister packs when I need 20lb quantities.

The L brackets are a bigger problem. There's no reason these should be adding more than $0.20-$0.30 per unit but the best I have found so far is $1.30 plus shipping for 4 ( I need 4 per piece, with screws)

Mirrors, amazingly, are also a problem. I've found sources for 4x4, 12x12 and 18x24 at reasonable prices but everything else I'm looking at per-sq-foot prices from local glass shops. One wanted about $50 for a 22x34, almost $10 per sq foot. Considering I buy those 12x12s in 6 packs for $10 that seems a little unreasonable. I haven't approached any about prices in quantities of 10 but I'm not holding my breath - this would be a big coup if I could find an online source.

I've had some success finding an ebay auction here, a website there (except for mirros) but what I could really use is some suggestions on better sources or methods. And while I am looking at more than blister pack quantities, I am only putting out 10 or so of these a week so I'm not quite at the wholesale-buy-from-China level (yet?).
posted by phearlez to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have often seen larger quantities of things like the angle bracket right at Home Depot. If they don't have the larger box quantity in the store, they can probably order it for you. The per unit price will be much, much lower.
posted by anapestic at 11:36 AM on June 14, 2005

I love McMaster-Carr for all my industrial and hardware needs. They have your brackets for 27-39 cents depending on size.
posted by 445supermag at 11:51 AM on June 14, 2005

Screw eyes: DMR Distributors seems to have what you want, for less than a penny per screw eye.
posted by delfuego at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2005

And might I say holy crap, that McMaster-Carr is awesome.
posted by delfuego at 12:01 PM on June 14, 2005

I usually turn to either contractor supply companies (such as White Cap Construction Supply) or engineering supply companies (such as McMaster-Carr) for these kinds of problems.

On preview: I see that McMaster-Carr has already been mentioned...
posted by RichardP at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2005

...McMaster-Carr is awesome. It sure is.
posted by 6550 at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2005

Grainger is similar to McMaster.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:50 PM on June 14, 2005

McMaster is stellar. Grainger is a good bet and there might even be a local one. I'd throw in Fastenal for good measure.
posted by prostyle at 1:31 PM on June 14, 2005

FAN-tastic! The screw eye pricing at DMR is great and McMaster-Carr is just awesome, period.

Anyone got any sources/ideas for mirrors?
posted by phearlez at 1:58 PM on June 14, 2005

I don't know how fast you're pumping these things out... but a good place for mirrors of various sizes and such would be garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, etc. Assuming these mirrors aren't already ornately framed or whatever, you could probably get most of them for pocket change. Might not be the most efficient idea, but it still might be worth considering, and you wouldn't have to pay for shipping (which for big flat pieces of glass could be pretty expensive).
posted by Witty at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2005

I've ordered at least $10k worth of stuff from McMaster over the last 5 years, and just a couple of months ago, I got My Very Own Catalog.

It was damaged during a thunderstorm last week and I cried.

Their shipping is incredibly fast, too. I could make an order at 5pm and have it delivered at 8 am the next day. Here in Philly, I've actually placed an order at 8 am and had it arrive via UPS at 11:30.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 2:40 PM on June 14, 2005

I've ordered at least $10k worth of stuff from McMaster over the last 5 years, and just a couple of months ago, I got My Very Own Catalog.

Congradulations! It used to be a much bigger deal before they had their catalog on the web (for those who don't know, the catalog is about 4" thick and printed on very thin paper). The McMaster-Carr catalog makes great bathroom reading, there are so many things you didn't know existed. Used to be they went for >$100 on ebay.
posted by 445supermag at 3:05 PM on June 14, 2005

re: McMaster-Carr catalog

They don't distribute them anymore? I can't seem to find any mention of a hardcopy catalog on their website.
posted by scalespace at 3:15 PM on June 14, 2005

With regards to mirrors, try contacting a mirror manufacturer who targets the furniture industry, such as the Lenoir Mirror Company. Even if you are too small to meet their minimum order size, it is likely that they can point you to a local distributor.
posted by RichardP at 3:15 PM on June 14, 2005

MSC Industrial Supply is similar to McMaster-Carr. They have 2x3/8 brackets for $0.31 each. I think you need to buy them by the box (25 pieces). They're on page 2104: a pdf link.

Another interesting supplier is Small Parts. They're great for small quantity mechanical design stuff. Gears, springs, couplings, etc. Their prices are quantities are targeted to prototype or one-off stuff, not production. They carry lots of specialized/high-tech materials*.

Also, here's a bit of advice for any aspiring engineers (perhaps not applicable to you, phearlez): Take the time to flip through some physical catalogs. The Small Parts catalog is a small paperback book. The MSC catalog is hardbound and five inches thick. By browsing these catalogs, you'll discover tons of neat little mechanical components you never knew existed. For a designer, these are the tools-of-the-trade. Familiarity with components will allow you to design for manufacturability and cost. And you'll get better results if these considerations drive your design from the very beginning. This is especially true for small production quantities where custom parts and fabrication is not practical.

*For example, they sell rods made of ABS, acetal aka Delrin (natural, black), acrylic, aluminum (2024-T4, 6061-T6), brass, bronze, ceramic, copper, cast iron, nylon (natural, with molybdenum), PEEK, phenolic, polycarbonate, polyimide, PTFE aka Teflon, steel (cold rolled C1018, tool SAE 0-1, SS 303, SS 316), and titanium.
posted by ryanrs at 3:17 PM on June 14, 2005 soon as I saw the question, I thought "Dude! McMaster-Carr!" That place is just _so_ awesome.
posted by LairBob at 5:26 PM on June 14, 2005

You might want to google "surplus mirrors". You didn't say what size mirror you're looking for, but it looks like American Science and Surplus, one of my favorite places, has simple mirrors of a particular size (scroll down).
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:18 AM on June 15, 2005

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