Frequently Asked Questions

We're OnlineMetals, and we've approved this FAQ.

Make sure you also take a look at our list of Rarely Asked Questions
Why should I buy my metals and plastics from
  Boy, who writes these questions? We have to give him a raise, because this one's a hanging curveball. In a nutshell:
  • No minimum orders.
  • It is Fast, it is Easy, and it is Convenient.
  • In many cases it is less expensive to buy exactly what you need, rather than buying extra to satisfy a minimum order requirement.
  • We follow three basic rules in dealing with our customers:
    1. Don't Lie
    2. If You Say It, Do it
    3. Tell Bad News Fast
  • Did we mention no minimum orders?
I'd like to get a quote.
  Okay, how about: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
I meant I'd like a quote for some of the metal you sell.
  Here's the easy part - all of our prices are available online. You can browse our products by category, or, if you would prefer to search using more finite criteria, try the Product Search page, or, if you're looking exclusively for pipe, try Pipe Search

If you still don't find what you're looking for, use our Fast Quote to get a quick response to your inquiry. (By the way, there is no hard part).

How long after I place my orders will they be shipped?
  Any stock item ships same day if the order is submitted by noon. For questions on expediting orders please call 800-704-2157.

How do I calculate the shipping cost for the stuff I want?
  The short answer is that shipping is calculated automatically by our system. The long answer is that shipping costs are based on a number of different factors, including your zip code, the weight and shape of the items that you are buying, etc. As you add or subtract items from your "basket", our system recalculates all of the variables. Follow the checkout process to the 3rd step, and you will be presented with a list of shipping options and their respective costs.

Once you've entered your name, address, etc., our system will remember who you are and where you live, and estimated shipping costs will be presented to you on the first step of the checkout process (the basket).

Sound complex? Don't worry - it is actually far easier than it seems.

Where will my material ship from?
  That depends on where you live. We currently have six OnlineMetals fulfillment facilities. For more info, check out our shipping map.
How long will delivery take?
  When you choose a shipping option, you are also choosing the time that it will take for delivery. UPS 2nd Day, for instance, will deliver 2 days after the order is shipped. In many cases, UPS also has a new feature that allows us to calculate delivery times for ground shipments.

An important note about delivery day calculations: delivery days are counted only as business days, and the day that items are shipped does not count in the counting. For instance, if a ground shipment is supposed to take 4 days to get to you, and it is shipped on a Wednesday, it will arrive the following Tuesday.

I need something that is the same thickness as a dime. Do you have that?
  This is actually one of the most frequently asked questions we get. We get it so often, in fact, that we started playing around with a digital micrometer and came up with this page which gives the thickness of common household items.
What's the biggest piece of material you can ship?
  On "Long" product, like rod, tube, bar, or pipe, the longest piece of material we can ship via UPS is 96". Note that UPS does charge a $5 handling fee on top of its regular charges for anything longer than 58".

On "Flat" product, like sheet and plate, the biggest piece we can ship via UPS is 36" x 48", but those dimensions can be, for lack of a better word, a little "fuzzy". If you're not sure about whether the size you want is shippable, please feel free to call us at (800) 704-2157.

How will my material be packaged to protect it during shipment?
  We've been doing this for a long time and have developed methods of packaging that ensure that your material will arrive safely. You can see pictures of our cutting and packaging here.
Does do metal bending, punching, or other fabrication?
  At this time, we do not provide any fabrication services other than cutting material to length. However, we have run across some machine shops with a presence on the web that may be able to provide assistance with machining or fabrication:
Name Location Contact Info

Quick Cut Precision Machining Bothell, WA
(425) 770-4413
Isaac at QuickCut is one of our favorite people. He does prototype to production work, including CNC, tool & fixture building, CAD/CAM, and and mechanical part design.

EDJ Precision Everett, WA
(866) 745-3937

Simple Machining Aloha, OR
(503) 705-8352

WJS Precision Fab Philadelphia, PA (215) 288-7944

Eric Gossard Ontario, CA (909) 467-0306

Do you have a printed catalog of the products available at
  Due to the fact that we are an on-line metals service center, and we are constantly adding products, we do not publish a catalog. All of the information on all of our products (including pricing) is available here on the web site.
Can ship via USPS?
  Yes, we now offer shipping via USPS!
If your order qualifies for USPS, this method will be presented along with the other UPS options. We use the small padded envelope to ship your order. Note: there are a number of variables that we consider when determining whether your order can ship USPS. Not all orders will be eligible depending on the weight, number of items, order value, US destination, and type of material.
Does accept COD orders?
  Sorry, we do not accept COD orders.
(We accept Credit Cards, Purchase Orders, and Checks though.)
I live right down the street from you guys. Can I come in and pick stuff up?
  Absolutely. After you enter your name/address, the system will recognize that you are in Washington, and will give you the additional option of "Will Call". We are open Monday through Friday from 8 to 4:30 for pickup of previously-placed orders.

We've found a good map of our location at Yahoo Maps

Can you explain pipe sizes?
  Actually, we can't explain the logic behind pipe sizes. The original reasons for a) specifying pipe by the inside diameter and b) why the "nominal size" bears no relation to the actual dimensions have been lost to history. We'll just stipulate that things are what they are. Fortunately, all of our pipe items have the actual dimensions listed on the detail screen at the web site, and we just added our Pipe Finder to help you pick which pipe size you need.
I need 14 gauge sheet. Do you have that?
  Maybe. There are a number of different competing gauge standards (14 gauge brass is not the same thickness as 14 gauge copper or 14 gauge stainless). On individual product listings, we do have the gauge listed (where that information is available). As a long-term proposition, though, you should design and order in decimals (i.e. .032") as there is less chance for errors.

For a well-written, more in-depth explanation of gauge, take a look at the Metalworking FAQ

I'm making a backsplash for my stove. What thickness should I be using?
  Most of our customers have had good results in Copper, Brass, and Stainless using material that is at or near .024" thick.
Have you visited our Interior Design page yet?
How should I attach the metal I'm using as a backsplash to the oven, wall, or other surface?
  We've had reports of very good results using Liquid Nails. The material can also be screwed to the wall.
Are you a scrap company?
  Heck no! We buy new material, and cut it to your specifications. We know exactly where it came from, and can provide certifications to prove it!
What if I cut my material too short?
  No problem. We have a product for that now. "Cut Away Spray."
Are we there yet?
  Don't make me come back there.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
  African or European?
Paper or Plastic?
Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
What kind of material should I use to make badges?
  Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.
The cockpit! What is it?
  It's the little room at the front of the plane, but that's not important right now.
24 hours in a day. 24 beers in a case. Coincidence or Providence?
Did you read this entire FAQ? Do you have some better jokes for the end of the FAQ, so that we can keep things lively? Send your best stuff to, but make sure that you go after something a bit more obscure than Monty Python or the Airplane movies. They were easy targets, and we've seen them about a hundred times.

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