In most arts, the materials and supplies needed can usually be secured from the corner store, of one type or another, but in the case of plastics, which started out purely as a commercial, quantity-production art, and has only recently been "invaded" by the insistent interest and demand of the school and individual craftsmen, an entirely different state of affairs prevails. As stated in a previous chapter, the industry is definitely NOT geared up to serve the individual craftsman, and hence is placed in an embarrassing position by the craftsman's demands, however much they may want to serve him.
It is the purpose of this chapter to describe the various findings and supplies needed, to furnish sources of supplies and suggestions whereby the difficulties of securing supplies may be minimized. Most of the supplies needed are highly specialized articles, used in few other arts, and the manufacturers are accustomed to receive single orders on individual items of a size that would last the average craftsman ten years or more. Here also the question of stock on hand vs. goods made to special order arises—there are thousands of different designs of dress-clips, spring-hinges, ear-wires, etc., and the manufacturer usually makes them up only on order, instead of working from stock, because he can never tell in advance just what particular style will be ordered in quantity, and prices fluctuate with the price of brass and other metals. Even from stock, orders are seldom less than a dozen gross in any style, since the fabricator himself seldom sets his machinery up for small quantities. Even a "trial" or "sample" order is usually for a gross or more. These details are explained so that readers may have a clearer understanding of the problems involved in serving the home craftsman or very small manufacturer. It is not that the manufacturers of plastics and findings feel that they are doing the home-crafter a favor by doing business with him, it is merely that they are not geared up to handle this business, but they can serve you, after a fashion, if you understand their problems, and cooperate when ordering.
"Findings" are the metal fittings attached to articles made from plastics, as well as the various incidental supplies. These include such items as hinges, clips, pins and so on. See Figure 66. They are divided into two main classifications—those having prongs by means of which they are attached to the plastics, and those which must be attached with screws or by other means. In quantity production, those with prongs are preferred as a rule, although those attached with screws are more flexible and adaptable to various uses, and might therefore be considered more desirable from the standpoint of the individual craftsman.
The "prong" consists of a little "ear" of metal punched out during the manufacturing process, which has an irregular outline, or sort of hook on the end. If a correctly under-sized hole is drilled, and the plastic material heated, these prongs can be forced into the holes with a kick-press (or even with a pair of pliers if handled carefully) forming an unbreakable joint. If the material to which they are being attached is heavy enough and the hole properly sized, it is not even necessary to heat and soften it—there is enough "give" in the material to allow the prong to enter and hold permanently.