How to Buy Sheet Metal Online

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How to Buy Sheet Metal Online

While working with craft items such as wood and metal may seem difficult and hard to learn, one need not be a master craftsman to learn how to manipulate sheet metal. There are, after all, only four things one can do to metal: cut it, bend it, shrink it, and stretch it. These techniques can be done with tools that are readily available at a local hardware store or online.

One can also buy sheet metal online, which is advantageous for the user who likes to compare prices and brands quickly without running from store to store. But before the consumer starts purchasing metal, it is important to be knowledgeable about the item in question. There are many different types of sheet metal, not all of which are necessary to familiarise oneself with; however, one must be aware of the significance of the gauge of a piece of sheet metal and the needed for projects. Finally, the user should know how to shop and buy on eBay, so as to find the right sheet metal at the right price.

Types of Sheet Metal

Types of sheet metals differ from one another in the way that they are prepared. Cold rolled steel is prepared differently than aluminium; likewise, aluminium is made differently than is perforated sheet metal. As the crafter must have different types of sheet metals for different projects, it is important to know the pros and cons of each type. While sheet metal can be made from any metal in existence, steel and aluminium are most common, thus the most important for the user to know about.

Hot Rolled Steel

To make hot rolled steel, the metal is put through temperatures of 760 degrees Celsius (1400 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher in the process of rolling and flattening. Hot rolled steel is found in auto parts such as wheels and frames, in agriculture equipment, doors, guard rails, and more.

Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel is made by placing metal alloy between two rollers that force the piece into a thinner sheet. This sheet metal starts out as hot rolled steel, but before it becomes a finished product is rinsed with acid and heat-treated in a step called 'annealing'. The finished cold rolled steel is stronger than hot rolled steel as a result of the extra acid and heat, and thus has an improved finish. This cold rolled sheet metal is used in a wide array of household objects and appliances, from shelves and tables to lighting fixtures and water heaters. It is also used often in construction, and can be made ready for welding quickly.

Mild Steel

Mild steel, a subtype of cold rolled steel, contains less carbon than any other steel sheet metal. This relative lack of carbon allows easily manipulation, welding, or formatting of the mild steel. Mild steel is often found in the body panels of cars.

Galvanised Steel

Starting with a steel (or sometimes iron), surface, galvanised sheet metal is metal that is been hot-dipped in a protective coating of zinc to better protect it from the elements. Galvanised steel is often used in street signs or other pieces of equipment that are intended for long-term outdoor use. Galvanised steel is also useful in the manufacture of household items: for example, rain gutters, washing machines, dryers, electronics, garbage cans, refrigerators, and heating equipment can all be made of galvanised sheet metal, or at least have a component of it in their design. It is possible to paint the surface of galvanised steel, a factor one should bear in mind if in need of sheet metal that can hold paint.


Next to steel, aluminium is the most commonly used sheet metal. Because of its natural softness, it requires the addition of other metal elements, such as iron, copper, silicon, and magnesium, to increase strength. Somewhat corrosion-resistant, aluminium is used in jewellery, fan blades, and many household appliances.

Perforated Sheet Metal

As the names suggests, perforated sheet metal has holes cut into the surface by the manufacturer. These holes come in varying shapes and sizes, including round, square, and slotted, and can be arranged in simple, symmetrical patterns, or even in more decorative patterns. Perforated sheet metal can be made from almost any type of typical sheet metal, whether aluminium, bronze, or stainless steel.


One can determine the thickness of a sheet metal by looking at what gauge it is. The larger the gauge number, the thinner the metal. The user need not memorise what each gauge is in millimetres, but rather should have a general idea of the size difference between, for example, a 5 SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) and a 10 SWG.






0.036' gauge



0.032' gauge



0.028' gauge



0.024' gauge



0.020' gauge



0.016' gauge



0.012' gauge



0.008' gauge



0.004' gauge



0.002' gauge



0.0008' gauge



0.0004' gauge



0.0002' gauge


Sheet Metal Accessories

If one wishes to make something from sheet metal, some accessories are needed in order to begin moulding, crafting, or welding. Any activity in metalwork requires protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and possibly a heavy apron (to keep clothes from catching sparks).

Safety Gear

To insure protection against sharp metal edges, it is recommended that the user wears gloves, like Kevlar-fibre cut-proof, to protect the hands and fingers from cuts, as well as long sleeves to protect the forearms. Eye protection is also a necessity.


Besides general tools that one may already have stashed in the toolbox (such as a portable drill, twist-drill bits, scratch awl, centre punch, and measuring tools), working with sheet metal requires some other, less common hardware that may not be sitting around the house. The first is a tool that cuts sheet metal, called snips. The aviation-style compound snips are often preferred because of their ability to cut in specific direction. The next needed tool is pop rivets and a pop rivet tool; for lighter metal work, rivets that are 3 mm (1/8 in) in diameter work better, but 6 mm (1/4-in) and 13 mm (1/2-in) are also available. The diameter is indicative of the size of the hole that the rivet will be put through. Rivets are not the only tool used to hold pieces of sheet metal together, however: if rivets don't hold up, one can consider clecos or sheet metal screws.


If one wishes to do some welding with sheet metal, then welding tools are needed, the first of which, obviously, is a welder. Since there are many different types of welders, some expensive, some inexpensive, gas or electric-powered, and so on, the consumer must decide on a welder according to personal choice. Additional items one may need include a wire welding brush and some sandpaper to smooth the final product. Finally, special welding gloves should be worn at all times when welding.

How to Buy Sheet Metal on eBay

To start buying sheet metal from eBay, you must first go to the eBay home page. Next, you type in a series of keywords that relate to your search, such as 'aluminium sheet metal'. From there, narrow down the options that are presented by selecting to search only by certain criteria: for example, price, form, or condition. You can safely pay for a product using PayPal, a form of payment devised by eBay. This system allows you to pay sellers instantly after purchasing one of their items, and your private information is always protected, and not visible to anyone but yourself.

For further peace of mind, you can even know which sellers are more likely to be trustworthy thanks to eBay's 'Top-Rated Seller' badge programme. Sellers earn this badge by fulfilling two conditions: receiving consistent reviews from previous buyers (meaning that the buyers received their purchases whole and in the condition they were advertised as in); and selling a certain amount of merchandise per month and making a certain amount of money per year. By buying from sellers who possess the 'Top-Rated Seller' badge, which appears on their personal page or on the pages of their wares, you can be certain to purchase from a trustworthy seller.


Metalworking is a popular and enjoyable hobby, and there are many shops that teach classes in metalworking techniques to learn and refine the skill. Those who live in areas with few auto and mechanical shops can find tutorials online that teach people who are new to the skill how to manipulate sheet metal. Learning how to work with sheet metal pays off for the user in the long run, as it teaches the would-be metalworker enough skills to do his or her own odd jobs around the house, instead of paying for something to be fixed.

Beyond function, metalworking also enables crafters to create beautiful pieces of art. So whether one's goal is to be able to make machinery or craft creative objets d'art, working with sheet metal is a rewarding experience that has a physical, often highly useful, end result. By turning to eBay to find sheet metal, the consumer saves money on an investment that provides many benefits.

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