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"How to Anneal Stainless Steel to Soften It"

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A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019

August 25, 2015

Q. I need to anneal 2x2" stainless steel welded wire (fabric), about 3'x3' in area. Too much material to heat with oxy-acetylene. Can I anneal with an arc welder? If not, how?

Alan Binstock
sculptor - Mt. Rainier, Maryland

December 4, 2015

Q. We are stamping 304 stainless .110" thick in a progressive die. The part is being sheared during the start of the progression and when the part is finished after a couple of bend stations, there are small cracks on the sheared edge. Is there anyway to eliminate the cracking? The hardness is about B80.

Chris Schuling
- Des Moines, Iowa USA

January 1, 2016

Q. I want to punch through hole of 4 mm dia. in 4 mm thick strip of Quality 202, what is the process to soften it for punching hole in it.

Brijesh Vishwakarma
- mumbai, Maharashtra & India.

February 2016

thumbs up signHi cousin Brijesh. I don't know much about heat treatment, but it seemed to me that Lee and Toby already answered very similar questions. Can you please try to cast your continuing inquiry in terms of the answers they already offered rather than starting over again? For example, can you follow the annealing time-temperature ramps they suggested? Will you be bagging the parts or not? If not, then do you feel it will be practical to remove the scale as Lee talks about?

I guess I also don't know much about punching either, because I didn't think you could punch holes that are as small in diameter as the thickness of the sheet, but good luck. :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 3, 2016

Q. I want to cut off, drill and tap a high strength ARP stainless steel bolt head to get a cosmetic part that matches nearby structural fasteners, I intend to cut the head free in a lathe a use it to create a precisely centered place to start the drill. Because the hole to be drilled and tapped (much like hole in my head for taking this on) is only slightly smaller than the diameter of the bolt head, would annealing the bolt head help? In reading the previous posts in this thread I saw the part about scale and discoloration-obviously in a cosmetic application, neither is a welcome addition! I have four to do, and they are small, but but make for important completed details.
Thanks in advance!

William Stokes
- Savannah, Georgia USA

Heat treating stainless steel files

November 14, 2016

Q. Can we soften stainless steel without removing its ability to transmit vibrations?
thank you

walid nehme
dentist - montreal quebec canada

How to anneal cheap flatware

January 28, 2017 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I make jewelry and started dabbing with metals a couple of years ago and have found it to be my favorite! I am still working at figuring out the differences in types of metal and how they affect the annealing and soldering processes.
That being said I came up with a design I would really like to make out of a fork, yet I have no idea what type of metal it is or the annealing process to use (length of time to heat, color to achieve, quench or not to quench, etc.) I would be using a very inexpensive fork.
This is a hobby, therefore my tools consist of a propane BernzOmatic and pan of water. This has worked for the metals I have priorly annealed and I hope it will for this as well!
Any help you could give me with this would be greatly appreciated!

Joni Whitfield
Hobbyist - Pelham, Alabama USA

January 2017

A. Hi Joni. Almost all flatware is either stainless steel, silverplate, or sterling, and labeled -- although I do have one old rusty place setting of nickel-chrome plated steel.

If it's silver plate, the underlying metal is almost surely nickel silver. We appended your inquiry to a thread on the subject to get you started but unfortunately, much as you'd like to skip step 1 of identifying the metal and move right on to step 2 of annealing it, that doesn't work because (as explained above), different procedures are required to anneal different metals -- the same procedure used to soften stainless is used to harden copper and vice-versa. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 2, 2017

Q. Dear Sir,

Here we have manufactured tube reducers for high pressure boilers, that are of different material like SA210 Gr A1, SA213 Gr TP 304H, SA213 Gr. T11.

So could you please suggest me what would be the heat treatment required after swaging (Reducing the diameter of Tube by passing it through a solid die with high pressure in cold condition) of tube. like either Stress relieving, annealing, normalizing, or something else.

Waiting for Your Positive feedback...

Zuhaib Ansari
Pressure Part Manufacturer - Malegaon, Nasik, Maharashtra, India

March 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Zuhaib. Your questions are welcome here, of course, but this site is for readers to help readers, and only a small fraction of our readership has expertise in heat treatment. And as site administrator I can't help at all with such questions. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 24, 2017

Q. Hello sir, I am working with SS304 deep drawing process; all the stages have been calculated & considered theoretically & are being verified practically ... but still during deep drawing my parts tend to fracture repeatedly. Will annealing help in some manner? What are the parameters to be looked into for same? Blank's thickness 0.2 mm.

karanbir singh
- chandigarh india

October 14, 2017

A. For .2 mm you need good malleability / elongation ratio and low inclusion perfect tribology.

narasimha murthy bhagavatula
- Hyderbad India

Oops! Carbon steel left in furnace overnight

April 5, 2018

Q. Hi, I am annealing high and medium carbon steel to demonstrate the effect of heat treatments. I accidentally left the steel in the furnaces at the austenitic temp over night. will this affect the results? I am assuming they will be okay once I have turned off the furnace and allow to cool slowly inside. The temperature was above 850 °C for a 1.1% and for a 0.45% carbon steel, so it should not have turned to spheroidite? The objective is to have the micro structure of the samples coarse pearlite. Thanks in advance.

Elaine Cotrona
- Dublin, Ireland

April 6, 2018

A. Hi Elaine!

I suppose you have some protective atmosphere and good seals to prevent humidity and oxygen entering the furnace. If these measures were taken, I think your main problem could be some decarburization in the surface, not changes in the microstructure of the material.

If the temperature was higher than austenization temperature, I think that if the cooling speed is not so slow, you won't get much spheroidite. You don't have much energy in that structure because of the slow transition from austenite.

So, I think you can speculate and theorize, but the best is to check the material and see if you have any decarburization and if the structure is adequate. If you get the results, share it so all can learn of your experience.

Best of luck!

Daniel Montañés
TEL - N FERRARIS - Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

July 13, 2018

Q. I propose to add front wheel drive sprockets of 40T or 48T to my drum hubs on my "tadpole" trike, two wheels steered in front, and drive electrically at first, with 8T sprockets on 5/8 inch shafts, then add flexible shafts to an open differential at the rear for the world's first, to my knowledge, 3WD tadpole 27 speed human powered trike.
To add the sprockets I must remove the drum hubs by de-lacing at a 78 mm spoke hole circle and re-lace with annealed straight pull spokes through the hub, and a drilled cog with 18 2mm holes countersunk on a 78mm circle.
Ordinary spokes have a cold worked high strength bend that is too narrow.
Do I torch each spoke for an hour to orange at 1700 °F and quench?
What will the loss in tensile strength be after annealing and cold work of re-bending 90 degrees?
The spokes must be laced one-cross adjacent the cog; they will not carry much torque load.
Essentially all the torque load must be carried by the three-cross spokes on the outer layer.
The inner spokes all come from inside and cross once within the wheel so they can only cross once unlike a conventional build in which they come from alternate sides of a flange.
I think that's everything I can say about the situation.
Should I maybe leave the straight pull spokes un-annealed or stress relieve them in a different way for the fairly sharp bend?

Douglas Goncz
Replikon Research - Seven Corners, Virginia, USA

September 13, 2018

Q. I need to anneal some 349 stainless steel for a press operation. What is the best temperature to do the anneal and should there be a slow cool or a rapid cool for this process?

James Jeffrey
Gym City Metals - Dayton , Ohio

February 11, 2019

Q. I've recently started using 304 stainless, mostly making hand hammered kitchenware items. What I'm doing to anneal for easier hammering/malleability is to put it in my gas forge until orange/reddish in color, then pound away until hardened, and repeat. My concern is, by doing this, am I releasing toxic fumes and/or degrading the properties of the stainless steel. I believe 304 has chromium and other metals that can be toxic. There is also a black oxide on the steel after my process, which I leave on as part of the finish. Just wondering if that may have any concentrated toxins in it as well.

I'm mostly concerned with exposure to any toxins that 304 may produce while heating, sanding, and pounding. And what the proper temp is so I'm not overheating, and possibly degrading the material in doing so.


Jim Dobbler
- Massachusetts USA

March 25, 2019

Q. I am bending HSS441 0.8mm thick tube into the shape of a "C" and I'm having difficulty maintaining the outer diameter of a "flare" process after the bend. The O.D. on the flare wants to oval in the direction of the bend.

Would annealing the tube after the bend (before flare) alleviate the tension and improve the condition of the flare? What temperature / duration would be a good place to start?

Thank you.

Brandon Layton
Automotive Exhaust - Bucyrus, Ohio, USA

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