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Stainless only tools for finishing SS - how critical

October 30, 2008

I am starting up a small shop from scratch (lost the old one to divorce - boo hoo). I used to do lots a small stuff, from welding lawn tractors to fixing neighbors big tractors; and making 'yard art' to fabricating small parts.
This time around I plan on simplifying my life and only working with Stainless - sculpture mostly. I have a little experience with it, but not much.
My question(s):
How important is it to just use SS brushes, etc.? I'm not seeing much available on the web.
How neurotic should I be. As an example - do I need SS (or neoprene) jaws in my vise? In my Roller Bender?

Or will passivation be needed, no matter how careful I am.

I expect to be using 304. For complex shapes I'll be buffing prior to shaping and welding.

I look forward to your ideas and stories.

Art Thompson
Fabricator/Sculptor - Timberville, Virginia, USA

October 31, 2008

Hi, Art. Citric acid is now accepted as a passivating solution, so it becomes more reasonable to do passivation yourself than in the old days when nitric acid was the only alternative. But you should try to avoid any contact with plain steel anyway.

Reasonableness would be the criteria I would use in avoiding contact with steel.

If you passivate the item after the fabrication is complete, then minor contact like from a vice jaw ought not be a problem.


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

October 31, 2008

Absolutely do not use steel brushes. SS brushes are virtually all made of 410SS and if you use those, your parts will rust, it will just take a little bit longer. I would use bronze or scotchbrite or aluminum oxide pads.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

November 10, 2008

James is correct. You must use stainless brushes of a higher quality or a non- iron containing media. You can buy 304 & 316 brushes from a company in Indianapolis, IN. Contact us if you can't find them and want to get the details. I am in China at the moment and do not have the info here.
Remember always that 304 stainless will not stand up to salt spray near the ocean! If you make a sculpture for near the ocean it must be a better grade.
You will always want to passivate any stainless steel sculptures that you make. We can give you references to other sculptors if you need help.

lee kremer
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Lee Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
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McHenry, Illinois
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