Inventing The Modern Car

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

The design and stylings of the humble car is an area which is in constant change, with innovations within the industry coming around all the time.

As science and technologies continues to advance it is inevitable that the auto-mobile will follow suit. Whether purposefully designed for use in the car, such as air-bags, or if it was an indirect inclusion after being developed for other markets, such as the stereo, the modern car has taken influence from many different sources.

The car industry is truly global with different brands of manufacturers being present in 47 countries worldwide. In the year 2013, this combined creates an industry which is worth approximately $888.5 billion.

The success of the car industry can be attributed to the innovators and creators who were pioneers in their field. With a number of projects sent in and gratefully received from customers at Metals4U who have worked with cars, we thought that we would pay homage to the industry and its innovators with a timeline of the landmark breakthroughs!

Inventing the Modern Car Infographic


Guide to UK Engineering – Hints, Tips, and Job Opportunities

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Over the last few years there have been a number of articles that predict a shortage in the number of engineers in the UK. Speaking in the annual Engineering UK 2014 report, business secretary Vince Cable stated “The UK will need around 87,000 graduate level engineers per year over the next ten years: 2013 was 36,000 short of this”. This forecast is said to result in hindering the recovery and growth of construction, manufacturing and associated industries, as well as the wider UK economy.

Attempting to find a cause, an article written in The Engineer suggests that the shortage is caused by the previous generation of skilled workers gradually retiring, Cameron 12leaving behind a talent vacuum. There has been comment from key figures implying that the solution to this lies in the investment of time and money in the education of key engineering skills at school level.

However, a report for the Royal Academy of Engineering, ‘Thinking like an engineer: Implications for the education system’, states that the problem is not at higher education level but rather at primary and secondary education levels.

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Scale Model Aircraft Handley Page H42 Airliner

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Model Handley PagH42 metals4u

This project blog entry comes from Peter Bruce who has restored a twenty year old wreck of a Handley Page H42 Airliner model, to full flying condition. Mr Bruce used our aluminium flat bar to repair the struts and the undercarriage. This model is 94” and powered by four 8.72cc two stroke engines.

Mr Bruce has also provided some background information on the Handley Page H42, that inspired him to undertake the task of rebuilding the model. The Airliner was named “Hannibal” and was handed over to Imperial Airways at Croydon Airport in 1931. This aircraft was massive even by today’s standards with a wingspan of 130 foot. The H42 was the first one million mile airliner in the world and was used on the far eastern route on the first schedule airline service in the world. Below are two photographs of this impressive model on the ground and in the air. The final photograph is of the original plane.

Scale Model Handley Page H42 metals4u

H42 Handley Page metals4u

Vintage Car Restoration

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We recently received a wonderful letter of thanks from H.Horsfield & Son in Halifax who specialise in services to the vintage and classic motoring industry.












“H.Horsfield & Son is a small firm offering services to the vintage and classic motoring industry.

Established in 1948 the firm now covers all areas of restoration from the sourcing and production of small hard to find parts to complete bespoke body design. Horsfields are very pleased to have the services of metals4u as they enable us to obtain the materials needed in affordable quantity. The web site is clear and simple to use and with their speedy delivery our work can be done with confidence.”















We are delighted to supply Aluminium Square Bar and other materials to firms like H Horsfield and Son, when they restore such incredible vehicles, as shown below.

How to drill Stainless steel

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Equipment you will need; suitable drill bit, cutting fluid, eye protection, ear defenders, heavy duty tape, marker pen or 3 corner pyramid punch, sturdy clamp, and felt or plastic to protect workpiece in the clamp.

Drilling Stainless Steel

Begin by clearing your workspace to ensure there is nothing that may catch in the drill when you start working. Make sure you have everything to hand so you can concentrate on getting the job done without interruption. This is a good time to set up your drill and ensure all cables are in good condition.

The correct PPE is of paramount importance when drilling; chips and swarf are sharp and travel at speed so make sure your eyes are well protected. If you wear prescription glasses make sure you wear additional goggles designed to wear over the top as regular glasses will not provide adequate protection. Gloves are not recommended when drilling as they pose a risk to becoming entangled in the drill; the extreme forces, rotation, and speed encountered when drilling can easily break a finger or wrist. Ear defenders are recommended to protect your hearing, exposure to loud machining noise can permanently damage your hearing and contribute to developing tinnitus. You can browse our full range of PPE products here.

  • Mark the position of the hole with a marker pen, or if preferred, tap a small indent with a 3-corner pyramid punch. If you are concerned about the swarf damaging the surrounding area as it furls out of the drill bit you can use heavy-duty tape around the drill mark as protection.
  • If the metal to be drilled is less than 3mm thick it may be possible to use a single bit to achieve the desired size hole, however, if the metal is thicker it is recommended to start with a bit half the size of the desired hole diameter for an initial hole and then step up to the final size drill for a second drilling.
  • Firmly clamp the workpiece into position ensuring it is secure. If the drill bit grabs during operation, or when the drill exits on the blind side, it can spin the workpiece which can cause bad cuts, broken bones and damage to equipment.
  • If drilling with hand tools, drop a liberal amount of cutting fluid/ lubricant onto the marked metal. If you are using a coolant delivery system, set that up as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Coolant can be sprayed, dripped, or flooded, but it is important to use a liberal amount and that there is good contact between the fluid and the tool interface. Using cutting fluid will help to clear the swarf away from the drill bit to reduce the risk of becoming friction welded and reduces work hardening. We recommend the use of CT-90 metal cutting and tapping fluid which is available to buy here.
  • You are now ready to start drilling. The table below shows suggested speed and feed rates for drilling different grades of Stainless Steel.
Grade of Stainless Steel Vickers Hardness Surface Metres per Minute Feed mm per rev/ drill diameter mm
1.5mm 3mm 6mm 12mm 20mm 25mm
304, 316 277-445 20-50 0.012 0.012 0.025 0.04 0.05 0.07
303,410,416,440F 137-276 20-40 0.012 0.05 0.05 0.10 0.13 0.15
  • When drilling stainless steel, one of the best indicators of whether the speed, pressure and feed rates are correct is to watch the swarf; the swarf should cleanly exit the hole and be helical in shape and short in length. Stainless swarf should resemble the original colour of the stock metal or have a yellow tinge to it. If it is darker or not helical, back the drill out, apply more coolant and check your machine settings. Then simply try again.
  • Once the hole has been made make sure you do not touch the bit or the hole as they will be hot enough to cause a burn. Care should be taken when wiping the coolant off the metal as the swarf held in the coolant may scratch the surface.

These steps should have you drilling through stainless steel like a professional in no time, however, below is more information to give you a much deeper knowledge of ways to drill stainless steel to get the very best results every time.

Choosing the right drill bit.

There are many different types of drill bit and reamers suitable for drilling stainless steel. Choosing the correct type for a particular project is paramount to achieving the best results.

  • HSS or High-Speed-Steel bits are designed for use on stainless steel and can be used for hand and machine drilling. It is recommended to use an HSS bit that is TiN tipped as the Titanium Nitride reduces friction which in turn reduces work hardening caused by excessive heat and minimises flank and crater wear.
  • Cobalt drill bits and reamers are specifically engineered to provide heavy-duty performance on high tensile metals; these are manufactured from a steel alloy with between 5% to 8 % cobalt content. The 5% cobalt alloy is designated as M35 grade and the 8% alloy is graded as M42. Cobalt increases the strength of the parent alloy and significantly increases its heat resistant properties; these are two very strong considerations when drilling stainless steel as heat resistance to friction created during operation will reduce the work hardening rate, and the additional strength will protect against bit breakage and flank and crater wear. Flank wear is when the part of the bit in contact with the workpiece wears away, crater wear is when the metal from the drill bit becomes diffused into the swarf.

Our comprehensive range of TiN tipped and cobalt bits can be seen here.

Once the choice of material has been decided on it is important to consider the right size bit for the project. Paying attention to the geometry of the bit will greatly improve the quality of the finished hole and make the whole process much easier.

Drilling Stainless Steel - Drill geometry

Web thickness. The web thickness should preferably be a minimum of 1/8 of the drill diameter. The web is the central shaft of the bit that the flutes project from. The web supports the drill as it penetrates the metal being drilled, if this is too thin the bit may snap.

Point angle. This refers to the angle of the point at the very tip of the bit. Hard metals, such as stainless steel, require a wider point angle than a bit used on less hard metals; selecting the correct size point angle will reduce wear and travel, result in a better hole shape, and reduce machine chatter.

Lip relief angle. The lip relief angle refers to the angle at the outer corner of the lip and is responsible for supporting the cutting edge in contact with the metal. This lip relief angle is determined by the angle of the point; a smaller point angle means more web is presented to the workpiece, so the bit would need a bigger lip angle to support the cutting edge. The size of the lip angle increases as the drill diameter decreases. If the drill tip does not have an adequate lip relief angle then the cut will be poor, even if the bit is sharp, and will ultimately result in excessive wear and binding during operation.

Length. The length of the bit governs how deep the hole can be drilled, however, the longer the bit is, the more flex it will have. If the bit flexes, the hole may be inaccurate and not on the correct axis. By selecting a bit of suitable length, the likelihood of deflection and breakage during operation will be reduced. Bits are available in a variety of lengths, the most popular length for the majority of metal drilling operations are referred to as ‘jobber’. The length of the flutes on these bits are between 9 and 14 times the diameter. These are considered a good all-rounder for most projects.

Helix angle. The helix angle refers to the angle of the flutes to the face of the metal being drilled. The correct helix angle is important to ensure swarf moves from the excavated hole cleanly as the greater the helix angle, the smaller the capacity of the flute zone.

Recommended drill bit dimensions for drilling stainless steel.

Recommended range of point angle Recommended range of helix angle Recommended range of lip relief angle Drill bit diameter Optimum lip relief angle
118-135° 24-32° 7-24° 25 mm
20 mm 10°
12 mm 12°
6 mm 14°
3 mm 16°

Drilling Stainless Steel

Deep drilling

When drilling deep holes with a depth more than 3 times the bit diameter, the speed and feed rates need to be reduced to lessen work hardening, ensure swarf keeps clear, and reduce the possibility of bit breakage.

The recommended reductions are shown below.

Hole depth to diameter Speed reduction Feed reduction
3 10 % 10 %
4 20 % 10 %
5 30 % 20 %
6 35-40 % 20 %

Step drilling is often recommended for thicker profiles of stainless steel to help keep swarf clear, allow for good penetration of coolant into the hole and to reduce friction at the drill point. The full feed and speed rates must be maintained when backing out and re-entering to ensure smooth transitioning through the layer of work hardened steel that will develop as the cutting is underway.

Step drilling technique entails the first drilling depth to not exceed 3-4 times the diameter of the bit, then withdraw the drill, the second drilling cycle depth should be no more than an additional 2 times the diameter of the bit then withdraw the drill; subsequent cycles can add 1 more depth equal to the diameter of the bit.

Frequent backing out with the drill bit and minimising dwell will help to reduce hole wall roughness and drill breakage.

Reducing work hardening when drilling Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel will work harden relatively quickly, especially with the heat generated by drilling intensifying the process. Once Stainless steel becomes work hardened it becomes incredibly difficult to drill; the surface will glaze which will cause the bit to deviate and bounce resulting in blunting of the drill bit, surface damage, or even snapping the bit.

There are several ways to reduce the severity of work hardening to ensure the drill holes turn out perfect every time.

  • Keeping the drill bit cool and lubricated will drastically improve the quality and integrity of the drilling operation. Using a proprietary cutting or cutting and tapping fluid reduces the friction created during drilling processes which lessens the severity of work hardening. Keeping the cut edge and the drill bit well lubricated also reduces cutting time, improves the surface finish, and prolongs the life of the drill bit. For best results, it is recommended to provide a continuous supply of coolant/ lubricant to the bit and workpiece throughout the drilling operation; if this is not possible, stopping and manually applying the fluid to both the bit and the cut edge will also work well.
  • Work hardening can even occur when using a conical punch to mark where holes will be drilled, this will make drilling difficult in a small, localised area as the drill bit may slip against the walls of the indent. Using a 3-corner pyramid punch will reduce the risks or simply use a marker pen to reference drill placements.
  • The stainless steel can be annealed before embarking on deep drilling or very small diameter holes as this will soften it to improve the machinability, therefore, helping to reduce the risk of severe work hardening.

Whether you are an experienced fabricator or an avid hobbyist, you should now be well equipped to tackle any stainless-steel drilling job that comes your way.

Strangways Hall Stonework Restoration

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Our latest entry is from Abbotsbury Stonework, showing their wonderful restoration of the pinnacles on Strangways Hall in Abbotsbury. Rebecca Freiesleben founded the company in 2001, to specialise in headstones, carvings and sculpture.



















Metals4u’s 20mm stainless round bars were used to fix the pinnacles in place. This is an example of where our materials might not be visible, but play a key role in keeping Strangeways Hall looking as impressive now as it was when it was built. These before and after photographs show the fine work Abbotsbury Stonework do. If you are interested in ordering any stonework or even learning how to carve stone yourself, you can visit  here.


metals4U Sponsored Seven Club’s Shoe-Box Racing Night

(Last modified: September 27th, 2019)

The Pre-war Austin Seven Club’s Shoe-Box Racing Night was a great success. With a fantastic turnout of 52 spectators, coupled with new awards to make 2013’s event a vintage year. The Metals4u Novelty Award was won by Terry Johnson for the Penelope Pitstop Limo.



















The technical award went to Stewart Ulph for Brooklands Blown, with the Concours d’Elegance going to Christine Duggleby for Chris’s Cracker. The Main Event was won by Cliff Ringrose with Cliff’s Hanger after a gruelling four runs. The PWA7 Club is delighted with the success of the evening and would like to thank all who attended. You can follow all the activities of the PWA7 club here.


Aluminium Tabor Pipe

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

A tabor pipe is technically an ‘end blown’ flute. Tin whistles and recorders are well known examples. Holes along the length are covered with the fingers to produce various musical notes. A tabor pipe has just three holes, two on top and one underneath covered by the thumb. This allows it to be played with one hand, leaving the other hand free to beat a tabor – a small drum suspended from the arm or hand.








I have several tabor pipes in various keys, made of both wood and plastic. A friend recently loaned me a professionally made aluminium pipe in the key of ‘A’. I loved the sound but one had to blow really hard to obtain the notes in the second octave, which made it awkward (and exhausting!) to play.

I felt that I could make a better one. A plastic pipe in ‘A’ currently costs around £50, aluminium ones substantially more and only to special order. An outlay of £42.85 (including carriage) for sufficient aluminium to make several pipes seemed a good investment.

A flute works by directing a stream of air to the end of a tube, causing a vibration to be set up that produces a musical note.

The components consist of a length of tube (the actual pipe) and a mouthpiece body that contains a central plug and an inner sleeve. The sleeve has a slot along its length that forms the airway. Because the plug was tapered, a central hole was drilled and tapped and the taper turned on a screwed mandrel. A screw was made to plug the tapped hole on assembly. The airway is directed slightly upwards and this meant that the sleeve had to be tapered both on the outside diameter and inside the bore; bit tricky but was achieved without mishap. Photograph 2 shows the finished components ready for assembly prior to tuning (by reducing the overall length in small increments), drilling the finger holes and shaping the mouthpiece. Photograph 3 shows the finished pipe.


The end result was extremely rewarding, I love the sound and all possible notes are easily obtained. In fact it plays as well, if not better, than any other pipe that I have paid good (and sometimes much!) money for.

All the work was done on a small lathe in my garden shed workshop.

Mark Gallon.

We’re often amazed by the variety of projects that customers use our metals for. Thank you Mark for sending in this impressive and very interesting instrumental addition to the blog.

Atomic Zombie Recumbent Cycle

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We recently received a great email from a customer who wanted to share his Atomic Zombie Recumbent cycle project.













Dear Metals4U,

Having seen some of the projects on the website I thought I’d add mine too. I have a bad back which has prevented me from riding a ‘normal’ cycle for many years now. I became interested in recumbent cycles and trikes and did some market research only to find that these typically cost £1000 to £4500 – far beyond my budget! I did further research into plans online and found the Atomic Zombie website.

They specialise in homemade cycles from the unusual to the downright weird – I was hooked! I bought the plan for their Warrior trike and it turned out to be simplicity itself with over two hundred photos and lots of clear explanatory text. This is my first serious metal project and whilst the frame is yet to be painted and I am still tweaking bits & pieces I am very happy with the trike and have been on several rides. The cycles on the Atomic Zombie website are designed to be built with second hand components from salvaged bikes, but there is nothing stopping you from using nice clean, fresh steel.

Metals4U were quick, seemed cheap and supplied exactly what I wanted – thanks guys! I have attached a photo or two – another can be seen in the Atomic Zombie newsletter (August 2010 edition) – have a look at the News section and browse the builders blog – they’re a helpful lot if you get stuck!

Best regards and happy building!
Nick Prescott

Phillips 66

Phillips 66

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Phillips 66 is a US based petrochemical company with a significant presence in the UK, with a highly advanced refinery in North Lincolnshire. The complexity of the refinery allows it to produce a wide range of petrochemical products, from anode coke to diesel and LPG.

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