hand tools for working stainless steel

is it a good idea for our shop to aquire stainless steel hand tools? We're at the final stages of tooling up our ironworks shop with an area
dedicated to stainless steel fabrication. We understand that we need to keep steel from contaminating the stainless work. I'm sure that extends to hand tools hence where do we get a stainless hammer? www.ironworkx.com
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You also have to match SS alloys of your tools to the workpiece. Especially true with wire brushes. (Imagine that!)

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Can someone elaborate on the whole stainless steel contamination thing? What exactly is the problem?
Thanks.
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York. ******************************************************************************************************** Tom Gardner (nospam) wrote:

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I doubt very much that any blacksmith working in stainless is using a stainless steel anvil, since I have never heard of such a thing. Nor have I seen stainless hammers for sale. I understand that some body men who work on aluminum and steel sheet metal keep two sets of tools, but I have never seen body tools in aluminum or stainless for sale either. I would argue that if stainless hammers and anvils are not commercially available, then stainless tools must not be required to work with stainless.
Imagine, however, that you take the hammer that you just used on carbon steel and use it on stainless. That hammer might be contaminated with rust or other residue from the carbon steel, and could transfer that residue to the stainless.
My understanding is that the dust and residue is the primary issue. Certainly one would not want to use the same abrasives on stainless as carbon steel. I go to some lengths to separate the abrasives for the various materials that I work in, and have various ziplock bags, each containing abrasives used on a specific metal. The new abrasives are also kept separately.
Richard
Vittorio wrote:

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Almost all work in SS isn't that critical. Nuclear, aerospace, weapons, medical and a few other areas have a genuine concern. I have had to have stuff tested that cost 200 times what the products cost and had to have stuff packed in a clean room...probably not headed for use on an anvil.

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Most important tools - would be your portable hand grinders or bench grinders - and any files you might use. If these were used to grind any ferrous iron pieces - cross contamination of small amounts of this iron will fuse to the stainless when they are ground and worked- and especially if the finished work is exposed to the outside rain - these worked surfaces will be guaranteed to rust - and will need more extra future work to acid etch them clean to prevent rerusting and heal the stainless skin.. which again may take some time for all the red rust surfaces to finally show. All grinding, filing, sanding and polishing equipment and tools for the stainless work should be done in it's own dedicated stainless area - and no other ferrous metal work allowed in this area or especially with these specific tools.
Vittorio wrote:

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You folks are getting carried away. This advice is coming form someone with over 30 years in working with SS. Have you never heard of passivation? Any steel whether it be a saw blade, shear blade, punch press die or hammer will contaminate the surface of stainless steel. When you are all done you passivate in nitric acid or have it electropolished. The corrosion problem is not only elimianted but the corrosion resistance is enhanced. Lets face it, cold rolled SS has been rolled by steel rolls. They will cause it to rust as quickly as a steel hammer. Leigh at MarMachine
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Yep! What Leigh said. Stainless that you wish to not rust should be passivated.
Harold
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You folks are getting carried away. This advice is coming form someone with over 30 years in working with SS. Have you never heard of passivation? Any steel whether it be a saw blade, shear blade, punch press die or hammer will contaminate the surface of stainless steel. When you are all done you passivate in nitric acid or have it electropolished. The corrosion problem is not only elimianted but the corrosion resistance is enhanced. Lets face it, cold rolled SS has been rolled by steel rolls. They will cause it to rust as quickly as a steel hammer. Leigh at MarMachine
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As a plant engineer and engineering manager for a number of food,cosmetic and brewing operations I found it important to keep stainless and carbon steel operations in different rooms. The merest flake of carbon steel became a site for future corrosion .Abrasives were kept separate as well but I've never seen anyone go to the extent of having separate hammers. I was also told that you should never mark on stainless with a lead pencil as the carbon could lead to imbrittlement. It may be true but I never saw it happen .
Tom

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Passivation or electropolishing are the ultimate answer, but on a lot of projects, the budget just aint there to do it. Most important tools to be carefull with are, as mentioned, sanding discs and belts, grinding wheels, and wire brushes. We write "SS" in sharpie on the back of the appropriate grinding and sanding discs, wooden handled wire brushes, and so on.
Never had a problem with hammers, or drill bits, or punches.
One thing that does pop up a lot, though, is scrapes from forklift forks- these show up as rusty scratches in a few days. We try to use straps instead of chains or forks, for lifting. Sometimes you get rusty scratches where you drag a piece across a steel table top or sawhorse, too.
One easy solution, though not cheap, is to buy a portable electropolisher. With this, you can derust scratches or spots on site, later, when they show up. You can get em from Walter and Screen Pro. These are DC power supplies, like battery chargers but higher voltage, that you use with a mild acid. You could try a battery charger and some citric acid, it will do it, only slower than the commercial models.
http://www.screenpro.net / http://www.jwalterinc.com/walter_us/servlet/Home
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