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Working with stainless steel


#1

I am very new to metalsmithing and would like to learn to work with
stainless steel. I have bought and read several books on
metalsmithing, however they do not cover stainless steel.

I would appreciate any help and on this subject. I have
purchased some stainless, but it is to hard to work with. I need to
anneal it, but can find nothing that gives me help.

Any would be greatly appreciated.

Flo Wells


#2

Unfortunately, for you, there are many different types of stainless
steel. They have widely different properties and are worked in very
different ways. Some are magnetic, some are not; some are springy,
some are not; some work harden very easily, some don’t; etc. You have
to decide what you want to do, then look for alloys that meet your
requirements, then ask how to work them. Google is your friend here.


#3
Unfortunately, for you, there are many different types of
stainless steel. They have widely different properties and are
worked in very different ways. 

A friend of mine wants to solder stainless and gold.

Stainless is a pain to solder, which can be use to your advantage if
you “don’t” want something to stick.

Trawling the net I happened across a person who managed to achieve
this some of the time due to vast the alloy recipes of stainless. The
person managed to solder the metals together by using the extra easy
solder.

I’m wondering if the reason the solder doesn’t stick is due to a
relatively high sulphur content? I find that some steels will not
weld due to sulphur being high (some are deliberately formulated with
a high sulphur content). I’ve read that sulphur acts like a
lubricant.

There’s a spring steel I use called “super 9”, and it has a
percentage range of sulphur in the alloy. I’ve noted that when the
sulphur content is on the high side, I cannot forge weld the alloy,
other times when the content is lower I have difficulty, but can
achieve a weld.

Regards Charles A.


#4
I'm wondering if the reason the solder doesn't stick is due to a
relatively high sulphur content? 

No, the problem is the chromium content of all stainless steels.
Chrome oxide is what makes stainless steel “stainless”. Chrome oxide
forms on contact with oxygen and the speed of formation increases
with heat. Chrome oxide is not wettable by solder. So the lower the
temperature of the soldering the less chrome oxide buildup and the
easier to solder. To easily solder stainless you need a very active
(fluoride based) flux and be fast with your soldering.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#5

I have silver soldered stainless steel many times successfully. Tea
pot handles, even the SS exhaust on my vintage car. I use a silver
solder called “Easy Flo” formulated for soldering base metals (not
for silver objects) and the flux supplied with that solder. I get
mine from Thos Sutton in Birmingham or Cooksons. There used to be a
special flux for stainless steel but the ordinary one works OK for
me. The trick is to use the powder flux dry, heat the solder and dip
it in the flux so it adheres and covers of the solder surface
sprinkle the flux onto the area to be soldered. Heat up and introduce
the solder which should then flow on the fluxed area. Boiling water
should then remove the glass like flux coating. A friend gave me some
sticks of silver solder, this really means solder with some silver in
it, he used in the installation of large refrigeration units in
supermarkets.

It has the flux in the form of a thick pink coating on the outside
of the solder stick. I only have a bit of this left but it has been
extremely useful for all sorts of base metal joinings including
Stainless Steel. I would think welding suppliers would stock it.

There are all sorts of Stainless Steel alloys exhibiting a whole
range of properties. Free cutting for machining, others more
malleable for stamping out or spinning. They are stainless because
they have an invisible oxide layer, like Titanium, which protects
the surface and makes it Stainless but inhibits soldering. The key to
this is the flux which has to be and active etching flux. If I were
try to attach gold to it I would experiment with a suitable flux may
be from a welding supplier. Welding stainless in an Argon
atmosphere, Tig or MIG isn’t a problem and may be worth an
experiment.


#6
So the lower the temperature of the soldering the less chrome
oxide buildup and the easier to solder. To easily solder stainless
you need a very active (fluoride based) flux and be fast with your
soldering. 

Thanks James this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

So the easiest solder plus a fluoride based flux.

Thanks I will pass this on.
Regards Charles A.


#7

James is correct, as always, on this one. I’ve soldered stainless
many times with both silver solder as well as gold solder. It is
very important to use a good paste flux like Handy paste flux. The
liquid will not do.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#8

Actually Chalres the Flux you can use made for Stainless is the black
flux made by handy flux type B, from rio. I use it on stanless and
gold solder, silver solder works well too.

Atelier Hratch


#9
So the easiest solder plus a fluoride based flux 

I have found that 14kt super easy works best for me combined with
the heavy brown flux designed for stainless that I get at the local
welding supply (a heavy flouride based flux). So right on the lower
tem[ solder and flouride based flux.