Good metal fab shops, either online or in SF Bay Area?
October 30, 2012 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good metal fabrication shop for custom parts, either online or in the SF Bay Area?

I have two parts that I need to have made: a manifold made of 1-1/2" square tube (stainless) with precisely drilled and threaded holes, and a stand for said manifold made from angle iron. Quantity is two for both parts.

I have CAD drawings for both parts, but I don't know where to have them built! I could open the yellow pages to "metal fabrication", but surely there's a MeFite who can make a recommendation for a shop that s/he has had good experiences with before. I am located in the east bay and would prefer something local, but I can drive to pretty much anywhere in the bay area if necessary. I would also consider a shop with which I can work remotely, whether online or not.
posted by harkin banks to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend, also a MeFite, is a machinist at a shop like the one you are describing. It's in Sausalito. MeMail me!
posted by chatongriffes at 12:43 PM on October 30, 2012

I don't have an East Bay recommendation, but I can whole-heartedly recommend Performance Fabrication in San Carlos (Yelp ; FaceBook). They have made various custom parts for me for my turbo truck project, including some beautifully TIG-welded 304 stainless turbo downpipes and wastegate pipes. Steve Schmalz is the owner, and he's an extremely approachable, competent, and knowledgeable guy. He's also very honest, and if you ask him to do something he isn't capable or equipped to do, he will recommend another shop that can do the work. That said, he and his crew are very, very capable.
posted by mosk at 12:45 PM on October 30, 2012

Performance Fab are exceedingly good. Here is a picture of some very tricky welding that they did beautifully.

With that said, they are also exceedingly busy. You will likewise need to be exceedingly patient. I have been waiting since July to have an assembly fabricated for a project of mine.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:16 PM on October 30, 2012

chatongriffes: you have Memail.

mosk and TheNewWazoo: thanks for the Performance Fabrication recommendation. I wish I could follow up on it but I need to get this done faster than 3-4 months.

I'm still looking for candidate shops, so anyone else that has recommendations let 'em fly. If no others appear I'll update when I find a place.
posted by harkin banks at 10:40 PM on October 30, 2012

For what it's worth, they knocked out that little bit of welding about an hour after I arrived on their doorstep. The other project they're doing for me is (much) more involved, and requires cutting on a Porsche I've got sitting in their parking lot, so... they're still worth a call if only for a time estimate.

They do really good work.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:32 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I want to echo TheNewWazoo w/r/t Performance Fab: I've given them several projects that were similar in size to what you describe in the intro and they've been able to knock each of them out in a week or so. No guarantees, obviously, but they do projects of all sizes all the time, and yours does not sound particularly difficult on its face.

Also, it will help considerably if you can show up with the raw materials as well as the drawings. This is true for any fabrication shop! Raw materials + CAD drawings = dramatic reduction in time to complete your project, as most of these shops are better at doing the actual work than ordering raw materials for customers. Alan Steel in Redwood City is a five minute drive from Performance Fabrication and has a good selection of new and used stainless tubing, as well as all sorts of other metal sheeting, tubing, and angled stock. Bring a tape measure and a pair of gloves if you go there; the owner can appear gruff but is actually a pretty nice guy and will help you find what you need if you ask for his help. If you know what you need and prefer to order online, a place like Metal Depot is also a great resource.

The bottom line for me is the quality of the work first, and the time it takes to complete it second (within reason, obviously). Performance Fabrication does really, really great work. Here's an example of the downpipe they made for me on the left vs. the original piece on right.
posted by mosk at 5:25 PM on October 31, 2012

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