Today I picked up my new A36 Steel Plate after being unable to avoid it after reading about so many members who have great results.
Regarding purchase my experience was as follows: I found two places nearby that had A36 and other rolled and pressed plates. I went to visit both about two weeks ago. One basically said, " we don't handle that kind of request. " the other was BCS Steel in Portland. Initially when I asked I got a little of what seemed like a we can help you response. I asked what a 1/2" 18 x 20 would run. He explained that the key cost for them was firing up the laser cutting machine that could cut up to 3/4" rolled steel. When I asked for a ballpark he shrugged and I suggested, "$20.00, $50., $100.??" He said, "Like a hundred." I said I was still interested and he said leave my email and he would get me a quote. The quote came in less than 10 minutes and it was an estimate of $49.80. I called to confirm and he said it would be available "the next time we are cutting 1/2" about 1-2 weeks. I was in no rush so I said OK. Today when I checked email there was a message that said - Are you coming to pick up the plate? I had not gotten a message before this one so I headed out to pick it up. Turns out it was actually ready a day after I excepted the estimate however there was a snafu in letting me know. Point of fact, BCS stated they cut 1/2" at least once a day. Actual price paid: $42.00.
It didn't look that dirty - really. It had some scale but after reading that it might be OK to use it after some basic cleaning - I decided to follow the advice of mbrulato/Mary Ann from her posts on the same subject.
First pass with distiller white vinegar got a little off.
Second pass with steel wool took off a little more...
I tried the Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar approach which had promising results...
Then I tried a sanding block with coarse paper and that helped but it was quite slow.
In the end I put 220 grit rounds on one then two orbital sanders and spent a solid 90 minutes sanding off the scale, wiping with the vinegar and peroxide solution, then sanding. That worked well.
I washed it and dried it (as where I am if cast iron lodge pans or this steel go 5 minutes without oxidation will take over and I'll have an orange pan to clean) oiled it lightly...it's in the oven now. (Last pic)
Below are pictures of what my plate looked like at purchase as well as through the cleaning process. Hope it helps others with not being concerned with the cost and ability to safely clean A36 plate steel locally from a vendor. This weeks dough will be usable tomorrow as it happens so...more to come on my first bake with steel.
I'd be remiss if I did not thank Scott123, TXCraig, and Mbrulato for all of the details on sourcing, cleaning, and methods of use for steel. Cheers & Thanks!!