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With a catalog of 480,000+ items, McMaster-Carr is the place to go for practically everything. It is an industrial supply company, but is unique in that it is willing to deal with private individuals and has no minimum order size. If you are looking for raw materials, specialized hardware, tools, or practically anything else, this is the place to go. Their online catalog is one of the best and also includes helpful explanations of numerous topics (Wondering which alloy of metal to get? Read the explanation…) Their shipping is relatively cheap and extremely fast. Most items sent to MA come from their NJ warehouse and arrive in 3-4 business days.
As the name suggests Hobbylinc is a hobby company. They are the best source of glue, small hobby tools (like those used to work with balsa), balsa, extruded carbon fiber, etc. The company is extremely reliable.
Amazon is not just limited to books. It is also a good source of power tools, electronics, and much much more. Be aware that much of the stuff listed on the site is actually listed by other companies. Make sure you check the companies reviews when ordering.
National Lumber is a local hardware store. They carry almost everything, but do not have a wide selection of power tools. Their staff are extremely knowledgeable. National Lumber has a full lumberyard in back. If you're looking for lumber, go to the desk at the back of the store.
15 Needham St
Newton, MA 02461
Monday - Friday 6:30AM to 6:00PM
Saturday 8:00AM to 5:00PM
Sunday 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Home Depot is a major national chain. They carry almost everything hardware related. Their staff are generally not particularly knowledgeable. Their website carries only a fraction of what is sold in store. Their online tool reviews can be helpful.
The nearest stores are:
615 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02471
100 First Avenue
Waltham, MA 02451
Harbor Freight sells generic Chinese manufactured tools and related stuff. Often, their products cost a fraction of what they would elsewhere. However, the quality of their products ranges widely. At best, their products are equivalent to those sold elsewhere. At worst, they are so poorly made as to be unusable. That said, their prices are so cheap that even if some things you order are crap, the money saved will make up for it. As a general rule, do not buy anything that has a rechargeable battery, has a blade, or must be precise from them. Things like hammers, pliers, screws, etc. are a good bet. Things like miter saws, power drills, etc. are not. Look at the pictures on their website - it is often possible to see signs of low quality. Harbor Freight shipping is rather slow. Be warned, if they do not have something in stock, they will ship it at a later point. This can take up to six months. Never order things from them that are time sensitive. If you are on their email list, Harbor Freight frequently sends out coupons for 10%, 20%, etc. off any item. Their website can be difficult to navigate; their printed catalog (they'll start sending it to you after you have ordered something) is frequently helpful in learning what they sell.
Harbor Freight has the following stores in MA:
FALL RIVER, MA 35 MARIANO BISHOP BLVD
SOUTH ATTLEBORO, MA 287 WASHINGTON ST. STE 6
W. SPRINGFIELD, MA 1150 UNION ST. #B
WORCESTER, MA 50 MILL STREET
Sears sells their line of Craftsmen tools as well as other common brands. Craftsmen produces a wide selection of hand and bench power tools. These can be ordered online or purchased in store (a good idea for larger tools). Their online tool reviews can be helpful.
Their nearest store is:
1235 WORCESTER RD
NATICK, MA 01760
Mon-Fri: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 10:30 am - 6:30 pm
Radioshack is a national chain that carries a small selection of electronics components and tools. What they sell can be seen on their website. Their components are generally rather expensive, but in small quantities, this is irrelevant. Their staff is usually clueless when it comes to electronics components. For anything that is not really basic, go to You Do It Electronics.
The nearest stores are:
241 NEEDHAM ST
NEWTON, MA 02464
Phone: (617) 796-776
110 RIVER STREET
WALTHAM, MA 02453
Phone: (781) 899-0460
You Do It Electronics
You Do It Electronics carries the best local selection of electronics components and tools. Their staff are reasonably knowledgeable. Their components are somewhat expensive, but in small quantities this is irrelevant. For more exotic components, order from Digikey. Their electronics tools can be relatively inexpensive.
The store is located at:
40 Franklin Street
Needham, MA 02494
Call: (781) 449-1005 or
Fax: (781) 449-1009
Digikey sells more than 1.5 million electronic components and tools, including virtually anything you could ever want. Their selection is so vast, that it can often be challenging for non-professionals to figure out which components fit their need. Their website can be challenging to navigate if you are not a professional. Digikey produces an enormous printed catalog which they will send you for free if you request it from: http://dkc1.digikey.com/scripts/us/commcenter.cgi?action=catalogadd Digikey's prices are low, but unless you are ordering a large quantity or exotic components, the shipping charges generally make it cheaper to buy locally at Radioshack or You Do It Electronics.
Aerospace Specialty Products (ASP)
ASP carries low power rocketry components, kits, and materials. They are the best source of components for competition grade rockets and carry the best line of duration competition parachutes in the industry.
Apogee manufactures and carries a range of low and mid power rocket kits, components, motors, and materials. They also produce Rocksim, the best rocket simulation program.
Giant Leap Rocketry
Giant Leap manufacturers and sells mid and high power rocket kits, components, materials, and motors.
Commonwealth Displays carries an enormous selection of low, mid, and high power rocket kits, components, engines, materials, etc. by numerous manufacturers.
Vex sells its robotic design system.
Robot Shop is a Canadian company which carries a wide range of robot components and robots.
Specialized Balsa Wood, LLC
Specialized Balsa sells, as the name suggests, balsa and some tools for working with it. They are unique in that they sell balsa by density (including low density competition grade) for an additional charge. This is the source for balsa for balsa bridge/tower/etc. competitions.
American Science & Surplus
American Science & Surplus sells a bizarre range of surplus items. They can be a good source for cheap motors, batteries, wheels, electronic components, etc. Check them out to see what they have.