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Stainless Steel Sheet work

1404 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  [email protected]
I've worked extensively w/steel, fiberglass and a bit w/aluminum, but not much with stainless. A friend gave me three sheets- anybody have advice on braking, drilling, cutting, polishing? Some have said that due to it's hardness it eats bits and blades- I did a test and it worked the same as regular steel. If somebody can give me hints or guide to KB if it has anything I'd appreciate it. Thanks!!!
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That is like asking how high is up! Depends totally on the type of stainless it is. Some is designed for strength, some for machineability, some for corrosion resistance, some for castability, some for formability, some for weldability etc., etc., etc. If you have already tried to drill and cut the stuff with success, you probably have a useable grade. For decorative automotive purposes, if you can cut, drill and bend it, doesn't matter the exact grade, it will do fine. I have a sheet that is virtually impossible to cut with anything known to mankind. If I try to bend it it snaps right off. Hardest stuff I have ever seen!

In general, stainless works similar to carbon steel except it is kind of 'sticky'. Need very sharp tools and plenty of cutting fluid to get clean cuts. Any dullness and the tool will seize to the cut and give a ragged surface. Above all, use anti-seize on ANY stainless bolted joint. Dry threads will seize faster than Clinton hits on a good looking teen bimbo!

It polishes very nicely. Do the usual tripoli, white, green compound routine and you will get a permanent mirror finish.

[ March 12, 2003: Message edited by: [email protected] ]</p>
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Just looking for help- like stated I don't know much about it. They are sheets about the same gauge of 18-20 ga. steel. I take it stainless is graded by hardness? This seems more brittle but cuts easy enough. Was gonna use it for under hood boxing or other decorative enclosure type stuff. Just wondered about braking and if it would scuff and have to be polished, etc. from someone who was familiar. Thanks for the post.
Like stated before use sharp tooling and cutting fluid. Stainless work hardens and becomes very brittle
Originally posted by Dragon J:
<strong>. I take it stainless is graded by hardness? </strong><hr></blockquote>

Nope. It is graded buy chemical makeup, primarily iron, nickle, and chromium content. There are dozens of different types for different purposes. A common one used in the oil field is 316 stainless which is a very corrosion resistant, machineable, weldable grade. It is impossible to tell what you have by looking but if it bends, machines and polishes ok, use it.
The lower the number stainless the easier it is to work with. Drilling works best with the slowest speeds, lots of pressure and cutting oil. A cutting paste or gel works better. forget about dull cutting tools. Stainless is roughly four gauges tougher when it comes to cutting. ie. 20 ga. S/S is comparable to 16 ga. mild steel. Hell on tin snips, use those guaranteed for life. You can buy sheets with protective film which helps keeping scratches off during forming.

I can't say enough about using anti seize on threads, one burr and its all over. They usually break off before they come loose. Walter abrasives sells an ultra thin zip cut blade for angle grinders specifically formulated for stainless. They are unbelievably long lasting and fast cutting. We use them for everything. 3M has spray adhesives that we use for fastener free applications. The super 77 and hi-strength 90 work really well. Good luck.
One other thing I have heard, but have not tried is using milk when drilling. This comes from an older machinist that swears by it. I just don't know if it is skim, 2%, or whole. I would assume whole because of the Fat.

No I am not trying to be funny that is what I was told.
hey i use a lota stainless at work 304 billet and 316 sheetmetal they both r very easy to work with i have used it in car panel work and have never had any probs im actually doing a ute now that is almost 3/4 stainless from bottom up
Yes, if you can find 316 it is great to work with and worth specifying from the supplier. However, if you have a mystery sheet, all you can do is cut and try. No way to tell what it is.
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