I started a thread in Q-talk about this but also wanted to share it here too.
In the UDS thread and other places people have mentioned getting expanded steel from Amazon. The prices always looked good but based on the description of the items, it was hard to really tell what you were getting unless you know metal and take the time to compare the specs. So anyway, I bit the bullet and chose one that I thought sounded similar to what a lot of people get from the local hardware store in the 2'x2' cuts like the photo below that usually run around $20.
This is a 3/4" (the open space) as opposed to the 1/2" many stores also carry which is much smaller. So back to Amazon I found the following which I was guessing was pretty close. Now the best part is it is 4'x4' and only around $30 with free shipping. So, you get 4 times the metal for 1.5 times the price.
Carbon Steel Expanded Metal Flat Sheet, 2.1" LWD Diamond Openings, 0.075" Thick, 74% Open Area, 48" Width, 48" Length
Amazon.com: Carbon Steel Expanded Metal Flat Sheet, 2.1" LWD Diamond Openings, 0.075" Thick, 74% Open Area, 48" Width, 48" Length: Industrial & Scientific@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/415BlkVVzTL.@@AMEPARAM@@415BlkVVzTL
It arrived the other day and I finally had a chance to compare it to what I have used in the past. Granted, is is no where close to the heavy duty stuff you can get from a metal fab shop but I think it will do nicely for charcoal boxes, reinforced grates/racks, and any number of other applications.
It comes shipped between two pieces of cardboard that are stitched together around the edges.
Here are some close-ups of the sheet.
I happened to have a little bit of scrap from one of the old sheets from Home Depot. I clamped it on so you can see some of the slight differences. Overall it is pretty close to the same size and spacing.
Not the best pic but the Amazon sheet does seem to be a tad thicker in gauge.
This photo does illustrate the slight difference in spacing. Notice at the top the two are lined up pretty well. However, as you move down, the alignment is off dramatically.
Overall though, I am not that worried about the slight differences. I just wanted to show it in case anyone wondered. Hopefully this will be helpful to future UDS builders as well as many others that may be in the market for expanded metal and want a good deal.