This is more a DIY question than a home improvement one but I can't seem to find a beter place to ask:

I'm looking for small diameter metal tubing, specifically 0.159 ID, ~3/16 OD (the inside diameter is the critical dimension) in stainless steel or steel (or if anyone make it, any grade of Titanium).

Anyone know a a source?

Just to clarify, I'm not looking for a walk up retail source (I'd be slightly surprised if one could be found). Rather I'm looking for a supplier I can place an order with that will ship stuff to me. Also, the question is emphatically not "Where can I get the best price?" My quantities are so small that if price is an issue, the project gets canned.

A little background: A while back, I found that the ink tube out of a cheap Bic pen fits nicely in 0.159" ID tubing and that with a little cutting and capping, I could make a pen that fits nicely in a business card holder to make a great little note set. The problem is that thin walled aluminum tube isn't stiff enough to not bend when sat on so I'm looking for something stronger.

Heres the final product:

alt text

  • Not a direct answer -- but as it's not structural, if you've got a lathe, you could cut a bushing to use a larger tube. (or maybe find some plastic tube to use as a bushing) – Joe Dec 1 '10 at 2:08
  • @Joe: That would result in a pen about the same size as I would get from trimming down a normal pen and sort of defeat the intent of the project. – BCS Dec 1 '10 at 4:15

Try www.smallparts.com. I once got a quote from them for some .111 diameter aluminum balls. I see 0.15 and 0.16 stainless tubing. Ask if you don't see exactly what you need.

  • Darn, they bracket the size I need in Titanium. +1 – BCS Nov 28 '10 at 4:25
  • +1: Seriously awesome resource. Wish I had known about this one while I was doing SAE/ASME design competitions in college. – Doresoom Nov 30 '10 at 4:39
  • Grrr. They only take payment via an Amazon account (or they are Amazon), and they don't seem to have the option of not putting a mailing address and credit card on file, neither of which I want to do for one ___ing perchance! – BCS Dec 2 '10 at 6:00

A quick search through the online catalog for McMaster-Carr finds both stainless and titanium tubing in various dimensions and wall thicknesses.

  • I'd already looked there, but none of there listings (SS, Ti or even just steel) get close enough to the ID I need. +1 – BCS Nov 28 '10 at 17:11

If you can use chrome-moly tubing, (4130) any aircraft supply firm will have it. Stainless and titanium are a bi**h to work with, and the Cr-Mo can be be joined with nickel braze (or even silver solder) to make all manner of useful things. The stuff is rigid, some quite thin walled and a real problem solver in the shop. MAPP gas will work, but slow. Price is reasonable and lengths adequate. This is the stuff the boy racers make their roll cages out of, but sizes down to 1/8" are available last time I looked. You could use this as an excuse to get that Harbor Freight oxy-acetylene outfit you really need. Or a nice Miller MIG welder. Once your buddies see what you can do, you're going to be one real popular dude in the weekend fixit parade.


  • My material property requirements are: stronger than aluminium, something I can cut and gives a nice surface finish. (I'm looking to make miniature pens.) Titanium came to minds because I can anodize it: popsci.com/diy/article/2005-06/titanium-technicolor. – BCS Nov 30 '10 at 0:09
  • Depending on how the aluminum is alloyed/tempered, it can be quite strong. – Greg Nickoloff Sep 3 '19 at 2:23

drawn brass tubing from K&S engineering - Chicago

  • Wrong metal, but might be of interest to someone else. – BCS Jan 11 '11 at 0:53

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