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Thread: cutting stainless steel?

  1. #1
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    cutting stainless steel?

    I had to make 2 cuts in 1/8"x5/8" SS. Figuring it wasn't such a tough job, I grabbed the first sawzall blade I saw (a brand new Bosch 5/8 TPI BIM). I made the cuts, but they wore the teeth off the blade.
    I know I should have used smaller teeth, but still, shouldn't a bimetal blade have handled SS?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I've given up on bladed tools for cutting metal: angle grinder with a cutoff wheel is much easier to control.
    And when you need to clean up the cut, the right tool is already in your hand.
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  3. #3
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    Cutting or drilling most SS is all about the correct rate. SS work hardens so as you cut the first piece it is hardening behind you.
    So to make it easy, you need to be taking the first bite and the next tooth needs to be getting into the next bite where it isn't work hardened. That is going to be really tough with a hacksaw.
    Change to a power bandsaw with the correct number of teeth and the correct feed rate and it becomes almost as easy as mild steel.

  4. #4
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    You can find stainless cutting disks on the wall with all the other 4-1/2" wheels in Lowes, or Home Depot. Push hard enough to keep the cut going, or it gets harder.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    I had to make 2 cuts in 1/8"x5/8" SS. Figuring it wasn't such a tough job, I grabbed the first sawzall blade I saw (a brand new Bosch 5/8 TPI BIM). I made the cuts, but they wore the teeth off the blade.
    I know I should have used smaller teeth, but still, shouldn't a bimetal blade have handled SS?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Years ago I wore out several blades trying to cut my first stainless, a bracket for one of my dirt bikes. I found out cutting too fast was not good. Also, there are different grades of stainess steel. I've cut stainless since with a bimetal blade on a variable-speed jig saw at low speed. But the thin abrasive disks on an angle grinder work well. But if the stuff is thick, I need curved cuts, or have a lot of cutting I've got it licked - a plasma cutter!

    The plasma cutter doesn't care if it's mild steel, stainless, or any other metal. Mine will cut though 1/2" clean and up to about 1" sloppy. 1/8" it's like cutting balsa wood. If you have more to cut you might ask around and find someone who has one. I use a piece of wood for a straight edge then use a grinder to clean up if needed.

    JKJ

  6. #6
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    With hand tools, a grinder is your best option. With bladed tools, cutting with coolant is required and this is a bit tricky when you have an open electric tool in your hands. My day job deals with many different grades of stainless steel, mostly in bar and billet form. It is all cut on a horizontal band saw that runs coolant all the time. It will cut 4" diameter, 630 grade solid bar all day and the softer grades with less trouble than that. If their is a problem, it is nearly always a coolant flow issue. Anything below 3/4" plate goes through either a water jet or laser cutter. Cheers
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  7. #7
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    horizontal metal-cutting bandsaw

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Lomman View Post
    ... It is all cut on a horizontal band saw that runs coolant all the time. It will cut 4" diameter, 630 grade solid bar all day and the softer grades with less trouble than that.
    I used to cut all my steel stock to size with an abrasive chop saw, sawzall, or portaband. I finally broke down and bought a good horizontal bandsaw with a coolant pump - what a difference! My metal-working shop is tiny (12x12) so I roll the saw in front of a double door and put 20' stock through from outside.

    For those who haven't used one, these are wonderful. I don't know what the Big Boys use, but on mine a cylinder and valve use the weight of the saw to control the downward cutting speed while a recirculating pump streams coolant on the cut. I can sit in a chair with my feet up while the saw does the work. I'm sometimes surprised at what you can order from Amazon.

    bandsaw_metal_cutting.jpg

    I use the plasma cutter for things like this stainless steel burn barrel. Every farmer I know want's one. (a SS barrel AND a plasma cutter! )

    burn_barrel_stainless.jpg

    JKJ

  8. #8
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    You can buy dedicated SS blades for a jigsaw!! They are spendy @ about $7.00 each (here anyway).
    I just used 2 to cut through about 3' of 1/8' sheet.
    It is a somewhat noisy/slow process--keep PRESSURE on the blade and don't stall and it works fine.
    I wanted to avoid the "bluing" effect in the kerf area and they left no mark!!

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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    ... grabbed the first sawzall blade I saw...
    Haste makes waste.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  10. #10
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    I've just enough stainless fabrication experience to be dangerous, agree with the plasma cutter. They are awesome tools. With a plasma cutter and straight edge, and a mig, you can make nearly anything! If you need to cut very much sheet stock I definitely recommend using one. I personally despise cutting steel with a grinder because its slow, expensive, noisey, dirty and somewhat dangerous.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    I've just enough stainless fabrication experience to be dangerous, agree with the plasma cutter. They are awesome tools. With a plasma cutter and straight edge, and a mig, you can make nearly anything! If you need to cut very much sheet stock I definitely recommend using one. I personally despise cutting steel with a grinder because its slow, expensive, noisey, dirty and somewhat dangerous.
    And not just sheet stock!. I use the plasma cutter on rebar too, most recently to fabricate grates for the bottom of burn barrels. It takes about a second to slice through 1/2" rebar. Anyone want an abrasive chop saw? Mine has been gathering dust in the barn for years.

    JKJ

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    And not just sheet stock!. I use the plasma cutter on rebar too, most recently to fabricate grates for the bottom of burn barrels. It takes about a second to slice through 1/2" rebar. Anyone want an abrasive chop saw? Mine has been gathering dust in the barn for years.

    JKJ
    Definitely! I haven't used a cutting torch in years in the shop, plasma cutter has completely replaced it. The machine I use is a Hypertherm Powermax 65, plenty of power. Used it recently to "sharpen" the ends of two 3" shafts so I could get a good weld to splice them. Nice and clean, made the welding easy!

  13. #13
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    One more vote for angle grinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee DeRaud View Post
    I've given up on bladed tools for cutting metal: angle grinder with a cutoff wheel is much easier to control.
    And when you need to clean up the cut, the right tool is already in your hand.
    One more vote for angle grinder but be sure you choose an appropriate cut disks. I have cut disks specifically made for SS as generic disks for metal can be insufficient to cut (the very hard) SS...

  14. #14
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    Those are small pieces and I'm sure any cutting wheel you find will do the trick. However, it is nice to have a stainless specific wheel / brush / etc to ensure contamination is kept at a minimum. In other words, using the same wheel on both carbon and stainless will allow iron into your stainless, thus damaging your corrosion protection.

    https://www.mmsonline.com/articles/c...grinding-wheel

    Interesting read if you're interested. I never read about grinding wheels in detail. Probably don't plan to again. Exciting stuff. : )

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