Any of you guys buy fasteners in bulk?

Todd0x1

Senior Member
Location
CA
Does anyone here buy fasteners in bulk, or just what is needed for each job? I have accounts with a couple fastener vendors and buy in bulk when I need large qty for something, but I had always purchased small packs of stuff I don't use tons of.

I just realized exactly how much money I have been wasting buying small boxes of bolts, nuts, and washers. I had run out of 1/4" fender washers and grabbed a pack at the supply house with some other material. Was going over the invoice and realized I paid over $9.00 for a 50 pack. Then I looked at pricing from one of the fastener vendors. $78.00 for a box of 2300. So for the cost of 8 of these little packs I would have the equivalent of 46 packs. Time to dedicate a little more space (and money) to fastener inventory and purchase cases of everything that is frequently used.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
I weigh stuff like that according to my probability of use. 2300 washers would probably take 15 years for me to use. Not worth buying bulk.

I'd rather buy things like gfci or can light trims on some screaming good deals because I use a lot of each
 

SSDriver

Senior Member
Location
California
Occupation
Electrician
I buy some stuff in bulk for sure. Tek 5 self tapping screws are one of them. $36 of these screws from ebay will last me the next 5 plus years. However not having them cost me more than $100 in labor on one job that needs only $1 worth of them. Its really hard to find them local unless you go to Fastenal. One trip to pick them up costs more than my 5 year supply. Other common screws and bolts I buy in bulk and don't have to worry about them for 6 months. Time and labor to find them, shop for them and find work arounds at jobs cost me more than having to buy them. Plus buying them in bulk is cheaper per unit.

On a lot of the bigger jobs I work at, I see other companies going to get small parts every day or multiple times per day. They don't have extra of commonly used items and think they are saving money. The cost of labor to make those trips is tremendous. Especially on PW jobs.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I weigh stuff like that according to my probability of use. 2300 washers would probably take 15 years for me to use. Not worth buying bulk.

I'd rather buy things like gfci or can light trims on some screaming good deals because I use a lot of each
But you might have other fasteners that you do use up much quicker. If you assembled a lot of strut and other metallic items you may go through a lot of bolts, washers, etc. If you do primarily residential work you may mostly just use some wood/sheet metal type screws, and even those maybe somewhat limited as a lot of the boxes you mount likely already have mounting nails included with them.
 

junkhound

Senior Member
Location
Renton, WA
Like to have big assortment on hand
Nearly always have a 50# box of 8d and 16d sinkers on hand, 40# tubs of 1-1/2 and 2" drywall screws,
Even keep a box of 25 ea 1/2" 8" long concrete expansion bolts for thos jobs hanging condenser bracket on foundation wall.
 

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
My local suppliers (fastenal, tacoma screw) offer a service where they maintain you inventory. Fastenal will provide bins and labels. We didn't do the vendor managed inventory, but I could write down the fastenal stock number, email the order and and have it the next morning. Chasing parts as pointed out is very expensive.
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
The company I worked for bought fasteners in bulk as well as buying 55 gallon drums of red and yellow wing nuts, we had upwards 300 employes at times though

Roger
 

Jerramundi

Senior Member
Location
Chicago
Occupation
Licensed Residential Electrician
Fasteners no, common fittings yes. Probably wouldn't hurt, but in my case it would be limited just a few types, mostly wood screws and masonry screws. Masonry screws get expensive. I could see myself buying those in bulk.

The trick w/ bulk purchases, as tempting at they can be to save money, you have to weigh it against your common applications, as others have said. Otherwise it's just money sitting on the shelf.

I made that mistake w/ 15A GFCI's. Bought a bulk package because it was cheap AF on sale. Now I know the danger of end-caps, lol.

Run from end-cap sales, lol. Run.
 

flashlight

Senior Member
Location
NY, NY
I used to buy fasteners in bulk. "in bulk" of course open to interpretation. I wouldn't order pallets of stuff, but I would make special orders with my suppliers, for stuff I used a lot. (Tapcons, zip fasteners, double expansion fasteners, single expansion fasteners, etc)

One time I was picking up an order and a guy asked me " Are you an electrician or are you running a hardware store ?"

Now that I am semi-retired, I think back on that question as I go through my barn and look at my stock.
And this stuff is worth quarters on the dollar I think. If that.
 

junkhound

Senior Member
Location
Renton, WA
" semi-retired, I think back on that question as I go through my barn and look at my stock"

;)
LOL - At 75 YO down to trades type work for only family, friends, and church.
My wife sees some of my stock and says:
"I want you to get rid of a lot of this crap, what am I going to do if you die before me" ...
Of course, 'old stock' includes a couple of aging backhoes in the yard, unused work truck, a few thousand feet of conduit 'odds and ends' scattered about, etc.
 

jeff48356

Senior Member
The only kind of fasteners I buy in bulk are the green and white plastic mollies used for attaching boxes, panels, or meter bases to concrete/brick walls. Big box stores don't carry them in enough quantities, and they cost much more per unit than buying bulk.
 
Really does depend on what "bulk" means- I'll almost always buy a box of screws/etc (+100 ct) over a little plastic envelope of them, but there isn't much point in a 5# tub of 3 1/2" construction screws when I'm only needing maybe 10 for the job and don't use them often. I also try to mark the purchase date on the box, so I can see how fast I use something I'm not in every day.

Like they say "Your Mileage May Vary" :D
 

Todd0x1

Senior Member
Location
CA
By bulk I meant big cartons, vs little 100ct boxes. For example a 100ct box of 1/4" fender washers at homedepot is $14. The 2300ct box from supplier is $78. I figure instead of spending $9 or $13, to spend $78 then not have to buy again for a long time.
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
Yes we did, we would buy 10's of thousands at a time and sometimes those numbers were job specific.

Roger
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
I think you have to be careful to make sure you buy stuff you're going to use but it seems foolish to me to buy 10 or 100 screws at a time. The cost per screw is just insane that way. Now if you're never ever going to use that screw again maybe it's worth buying a box of 100 instead of whatever the next size up is.It really sucks when you're in the middle of a job and run out of something that you ought to have on hand. That happens to me every once in awhile out in our shop.

Things like fasteners and duct and normal wire sizes are supposed to be expensed items and don't have to be put on our bill of material. But every now and then somebody forgets to reorder or you use a lot of something on a job and now you're out of duct and have to wait a week for more to come in. I have made a habit of adding in such items to my bill of material if there is an unusual quantity of them because I know there's a good chance we will run out in the middle of the job otherwise.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
The company I worked for bought fasteners in bulk as well as buying 55 gallon drums of red and yellow wing nuts, we had upwards 300 employes at times though

Roger
Did you refill smaller containers for each truck, job, etc. or did you tote those drums with you all the time? :whistle:
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
They stayed in the stock room for supplying trucks and jobs.

Roger
 
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