Goosebay Lumber near Concord is a good source for many woods, and in particular, Baltic Birch plywood, which is good for laser cutting. As a Makerspace member, you get a 10% discount (just mention it).
Highland Hardwoods has an excellent selection of nearly any wood you desire.
Choice Metals near Goffstown is a decent source for most metals. They will sell you drops (scrap cutoffs) if they have them. As a Makerspace member, you get a 10% discount (just mention it).
Midwest Steel Supply is out in Minnesota. But, they often have amazing prices on things, and a selection that includes less-common sizes, making it worth the shipping.
Aubin Ace Hardware on the west side of Manchester has an extremely good selection of hardware, including metric and stainless.
Manchester Habitat for Humanity is a short walk from the Makerspace. Currently their hours are limited to Friday 12-5 and Saturday 9-3, but you can often find great deals on surplus paint, tools, lumber, and electrical supplies.
McMaster-Carr and Grainger are go-tos if you can't find something and need it tomorrow. McMaster's prices often aren't as outrageous as some make them out to be- in some cases, they're the cheapest, and are generally not inferior quality. It's very difficult to beat McMaster on hardware (ignoring shipping) unless you need it same-day.
ASMC sometimes manages to beat out McMaster on hardware prices, especially since they offer free snail-mail shipping.
KCToolCo and Chad's Toolbox are good places to get european tools. Yes, they are that much better. Wera screwdrivers with LaserTip are many cuts above any other driver out there, and Knipex pliers wrenches are so much better than adjustable wrenches.
You might be suprised what you can get off of eBay, and flea markets.
Ownerships of plastic supply companies have changed up recently. If anyone has sourced plastic lately, we'd like to know where's best. Thad would love to find somewhere that stocks PETG.
- Cobalt steel drillbits are the best quality and last a long time; they are a worthwhile investment if kept properly.
- Split-point drillbits walk less than their chisel-point counterparts.
- Stub-length drillbits are often handy for precise control. Ex: https://www.mcmaster.com/28765A24/
- Many different styles of bits exist for wood to reduce tear-out and produce clean holes.
MakeItFrom can help select material based on numbers if you understand what those properties mean.
- Polycarbonate (PC, Polycarb), AKA Lexan, is extremely strong and resists impacts very well. It's extremely expensive. It cannot be laser cut. It can be conventionally cut, and even bent. It comes in all colors. You might be able to buy clear at a hardware store.
- Acrylic, AKA Plexiglas, is prone to shatterring, but resists scratches. It's expensive. It can be laser cut and leaves nice edges. It can be conventionally cut if done with care. It comes in all colors. You can almost always find clear at a hardware store.
- PETG (which has a few generic names, but is usually just PET-G) is an awesome material- it's what disposable water bottles are made of. It can be laser cut (though the edges can be a bit drossy). It's quite durable and impact resistant (inbetween Polycarb and Acrylic). It's fairly soft, so machines readily, but doesn't resist scratches. It's hard to find in anything but clear unless you're looking for very thin stock (<.060"). It's (relatively) cheap, but you can't find it in hardware stores.
- Polypropylene is extremely ductile. It's very cheap, but you won't find it in a hardware store. It can be lasercut but with heavy dross. Comes in semi-clear and opaque white.
- Coroplast, or corrugated polypropylene, AKA signboard, is a fun material. Easy to work with.
- Acetal, AKA Delrin, is quite mechanically strong and stiff. It can be laser cut with heavy dross. It's very wear-resistant. Only comes in white and black. It's expensive and won't be found in a hardware store.
- HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is a stiff, cheap, slippery material that often comes in thick sections. Can't be found in hardware stores. UHMW (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) is similar. LDPE is a softer version. VHMW is an inbetween.
- Teflon or PTFE is the paragon of plastics. It's inert. Nothing sticks to it, it has super low friction, and high temperature resistance. As such, it's absurdly expensive.
- PLA is economical. It is readily printed with any hotend as it has a low melting point.
- ABS is a little pricier than PLA, but it requires a higher temperature and has more thermal problems, accordingly. Not all of our printers can use it. ABS can be vapor-polished for smoother looking parts.
- Nylon is expensive, but has awesome mechanical properties. It requires a high printing temperature, so none of our printers can use it. Markforged's Onyx material is a proprietary Nylon.
- Plywood is several layers of wood stacked and crossed. This allows the wood to be strong in both the x- and y- directions, and adds a degree of flexibility to the wood.
- Construction grade plywood is often made from poor quality veneers or MDF. This means only the outside looks decent.
- Hardwood plywood often simply has a thin veneer on the outside with the inner layers being an inferior quality veneer or MDF.
- Baltic Birch plywood is made from several layers of true veneer. This makes it somewhat expensive, but it has superb mechanical qualities. Since it is imported, it usually comes in 5'x5' sheets as opposed to the 4'x8' sheets you may be accustomed to. It has a distinctive edge pattern- some people love it and don't bother to cover it with trim.
- OSB is made of chopped wood put together with strands in many directions. This material is cheap, but not particularly stiff, strong, or pleasing to work with, and swells under moisture.
- MDF is made of powdered wood that is glued together. This is somewhat cheap, somewhat strong, easy to work with since it has no grain orientation, but swells to a ruined state when exposed to moisture. It can be laser cut, but not very cleanly.
- Hardboard is what pegboard is often made of and usually comes approximately 1/8" thick. This is compressed wood fibers that are particularly stiff. In the right applications, it can be extraordinarially useful.
- Aluminum is a good all-around material. It isn't that expensive, some of it can be welded, some of it can be sheet-formed, and it's easy on machining tools. There are many different alloys; here are some of the most common:
- 6061 is a good all-around alloy with medium strength, medium weldability and some formability. Heat treatment should be used when forming or welding for best results, but may not be necessary. Extruded aluminum you buy from the big box store is usually a 6000-series alloy such as 6061.
- 7075 is a high-performance alloy with high strength, but cannot be welded or formed. 2024 has similar properties.
- 5052 is a medium-performance alloy suited to sheetmetal and some welding. It is not heat-treatable, but is usually found in a strain-hardened state (-H32)
- 3003 is soft and suited to sheetmetal work.
- If you are welding, you may need to pay attention to the filler rod you are using- 4043 is a general purpose rod good for 6000-series alloys, but if you're making a fuel tank out of 5052, it may not be suitable.
- Plain carbon steel (10xx) is cheap. It is more wear-resistant than aluminum, but is generally comparable with 6061 aluminum in strength. The most common is 1018.
- Hot rolled material is more ductile and bendable, but weaker, than cold-rolled. Heating and cooling (in a process known as annealing) cold-rolled material will remove this property, however.
- Alloy steel (41xx) is more expensive. It is higher-strength, generally comparable with 7075 aluminum or better. These steels have better fatigue strength than aluminum.
- 4140 is a common, easily-machinable material with potentially high strength and hardness with heat treatment.
- 4130 (aka "chromoly") is a common material for making roll cages and tubeframes because of its high strength and weldability.
- Free machining steel (12Lxx) is not that strong, but is very easy to machine for a steel.
- Stainless steel is a pain in the butt to machine- avoid it unless you really need the corrosion resistance. Most grades of stainless are nonmagnetic.
In addition to alloy, you may need to pay attention to the temper (e.g. -T6, -O, -N, -A) and cold-work state (e.g. -H32) if applicable.