stainless steel for engraving

tdelewis

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I need some Stainless for engraving. Would like to be able to buy 1 sq. ft. in about 8 gauge. I know 416 is good for engraving are there any other suggestions? I am making plaques to go on benches that will be out side year around. Just names and other info. I have been searching and few places have sheet and most are for commercial machine shops and price large quantities. I am sure some have done something like this before and have some good suggestions. Help.
 

707chrisa

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304 is pretty good for engraving and has good corrosion resistance properties. I remember it not being too expensive. I used to buy it from Industrial Metals Supply in CA.
I forgot about these guys and yes after a memory jog and some google fu 304 or 316 would be best for corrosion resistance . 316 is the best of the two for corrosion resistance. I mostly worked with the 400 series stuff. and yes 416 cuts like butter ( for a stainless ) due to the sulfur added for machining.
 
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Raudt89

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304 and 316 are practically the same with the difference of the presence of molybdenum in 316 that improves its anticorrosive characteristics. Neither of the two are very good for engraving, too pasty, however I use 316 as it is the one I have on hand, as I have researched the best for engraving are 303 and 416, they have sulfur therefore they have good characteristics for machining.
 

BenHickey

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304 is pretty good for engraving and has good corrosion resistance properties. I remember it not being too expensive. I used to buy it from Industrial Metals Supply in CA.
I have managed to procure pretty cheaply a number of practice plates in 304 stainless steel. But it is absolutely destroying my gravers... Any advice? I have seen some people say to avoid it like the plague and some say it's no problem at all and now I'm am just very confused. For reference, I am using c-max carbide gravers and have tried a number of various angles and heels.
 

T.G.III

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Wish I'd have seen this when first posted, in my experience 304 stainless is miserable to cut, bought a bunch of money clips from a major jewelry supplier a few years back, they were cheap , after working with a few of them I understood why, still have a bunch of them left, ended up overlaying copper onto a few of them and engraved them that way instead.

That all said I'm not sure how you're mounting those sheets, but if there is any flex at all while cutting they will act like a springboard and destroy graver tips.

Might try some softer gravers, thinking that I was using high speed steel, again the slightest flex will create bounce and wreak havoc on any gravers.
 
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Raudt89

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I have managed to procure pretty cheaply a number of practice plates in 304 stainless steel. But it is absolutely destroying my gravers... Any advice? I have seen some people say to avoid it like the plague and some say it's no problem at all and now I'm am just very confused. For reference, I am using c-max carbide gravers and have tried a number of various angles and heels.

Try to bend the point to a steeper angle only at the tip, what angle are you using? You can use the bent point at various angles even up to 90°, passing only a couple of times the tip through the sharpening stone will make your point more resistant. Normally I usually use this stainless steel and it only breaks my tip sporadically, also make sure that there is no vibration in the piece, it is a great enemy
 

BenHickey

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Try to bend the point to a steeper angle only at the tip, what angle are you using? You can use the bent point at various angles even up to 90°, passing only a couple of times the tip through the sharpening stone will make your point more resistant. Normally I usually use this stainless steel and it only breaks my tip sporadically, also make sure that there is no vibration in the piece, it is a great enemy
Thanks, I'll give this a try. I'm fairly confident there is no vibration at all from the plate. It's 1.5mm and I secure it pretty well in the vice. Mostly I use a 55 degree face, but will try the steeper tip, I've also ordered some glensteel to see if they are less prone to breaking.
 

Raudt89

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Thanks, I'll give this a try. I'm fairly confident there is no vibration at all from the plate. It's 1.5mm and I secure it pretty well in the vice. Mostly I use a 55 degree face, but will try the steeper tip, I've also ordered some glensteel to see if they are less prone to breaking.
What's under the plate? The vise or an empty space?
 

fitzo

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Just a tip in an old thread: bear in mind that 400 series stainless steels aren't "stainless" until they are heat treated.
 

mtlctr

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Just a tip in an old thread: bear in mind that 400 series stainless steels aren't "stainless" until they are heat treated.
They contain carbon so………heating them hardens them but doesn’t make them stainless.https://www.pennstainless.com/resources/product-information/stainless-grades/400-series/416-stainless-steel/
 

psychonaut

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I have managed to procure pretty cheaply a number of practice plates in 304 stainless steel. But it is absolutely destroying my gravers... Any advice? I have seen some people say to avoid it like the plague and some say it's no problem at all and now I'm am just very confused. For reference, I am using c-max carbide gravers and have tried a number of various angles and heels.
I’ve been having the exact same problem. Same steel, same graver material, same problem. Thank y’all for clearing up a lot. How often should I be having to sharpen my graver when working with steel? For me, I’m engraving script and having to sharpen after every letter, pretty much
 

Mike576

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I’m had pretty good luck yesterday engraving 304 stainless steel 1/4 inch bar stock. I turned it down in my lathe to 1.25 round by 3/16 thick and made a golf ball marker. It was a little more gummy than other grades of stainless. More difficult than mild steel for sure but when compared to titanium or some harder gun parts it wasn’t bad. Broke my tip about 10 or so times in 3 hours. Was using a Steve Lindsay carbalt graver at 116 degrees with a standard face angle. Only time I noticed any chipping of the tip was with very tight radius cuts. The inside radius of the cut would chip the corresponding face on the graver. Got to the point where I could anticipate where I would brake so I added a small dot of cutting oil, Also I eased up on the pressure and allowed the graver to do the work. The combo of these prevented the tip from breaking.
Overall I prefer 303 stainless steel however it’s hard to find in useful sizes. You will need a lathe or mill to work it’s down from larger bar stock.
 

fitzo

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They contain carbon so………heating them hardens them but doesn’t make them stainless.https://www.pennstainless.com/resources/product-information/stainless-grades/400-series/416-stainless-steel/
From the site you cite:
  • Maximum corrosion resistance is achieved in the hardened condition, with a smooth surface finish
Back when I started making knives mirror polished stainless like 440c and 154CM were used extensively because the high polish ostensibly left the most free chromium on the surface and imparted its stain resistance. The heat treat is necessary to create the conditions to get that chromium.
At least, that's the way I've learned it. YMMV.
 
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fitzo

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Are they hardenable then?

400 series stainless steels are called "martensitic" steels. They respond to heat treatment, form a type of iron/carbon crystal called martensite when rapidly cooled (quenched) from a specific elevated temp range, and harden. They typically need tempering afterwards to reduce brittleness by effecting some alloy element migration and slight rounding of crystal shape. 410, 416, 440C are good examples.
This is as opposed to the 300 series, which are "austenitic" steels that contain so much nickel and chromium it stops the formation of the hard iron carbide crystal we call martensite and consequently doesn't heat treat as such. The iron carbide crystls remain in a more amorphous crystalline configuration called "austenite." 300-series can work harden, though. 303, 304, 309, 316, etc., are examples we see in engraving.
 
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mtlctr

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I’ve been having the exact same problem. Same steel, same graver material, same problem. Thank y’all for clearing up a lot. How often should I be having to sharpen my graver when working with steel? For me, I’m engraving script and having to sharpen after every letter, pretty much
Have to sharpen when it gets dull. Cutting stainless make u a professional sharpener.
 
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