Making double-prong skewers

I have been in the market for double-prong skewers for barbecuing meat. Double-prong skewers look like a very large hairpin, with both prongs going
through the meat, thus preventing rotation, so when one turns the skewer full of meat over, everything turns over.
I have a old and ratty set of such skewers, but need more, and perhaps better. I think what I have was made by Weber, although what I have doesn't look exactly those pictured:
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
But these look pretty flimsy, and I wanted stainless steel, unlike the chrome-plated rusty steel I have. So, I found these. <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
They look flimsy too, and will not hold the food securely unless everything is exactly the same size.
Hmm. It's just a piece of wire sharpened at both ends and bent into a hairpin. We can do that! Don't even need fancy machine tools.
Requirements: These skewers go inside the Weber grill and must not interfere with closing the cover, must withstand the full 550 F heat, must be stiff enough that one can handle and flip a fully-loaded skewer over with tongs, and must not rust.
Of the common types of stainless steel, Type 316 is the most corrosion resistant, and is the easiest to weld (and so won't likely be caused to rust by the 550 F heat). A 6' length costs $10.46 from McMaster.
So I bought some 0.125" diameter Type 316 stainless steel rod, and made two skewers, which are simple hairpins about 13" long with prongs about 0.5" apart. The process is to sharpen both ends of a 25" long piece into diamond points with a file and bend the middle of the rod by hand over a steel rod held in a vise, finishing the bend using the vise.
Next step is to run the new skewers through the dishwasher, to get any machine oil off.
Probably get to use them this week. I'm wondering if 1/8" diameter is too large. If it is, I'll use 3/32" diameter rod instead.
Joe Gwinn
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Joseph Gwinn wrote:

<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
The folks in the parts of the world where skewering stuff is the norm use flat metal skewers, around 1/2" wide x 1/16" thick or so.
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[snip]
How big are the critters they are roasting?
I was thinking kabobs: cubes about 2" on a side, and a blade that big could be hard to use.
Although it would certainly be easy to get SS flat strip in 0.5 by 0.0625" or similar size.
Joe Gwinn
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Joseph Gwinn wrote:

That's exactly what I meant, middle-eastern through north-african type area, kebabs, kofta and the like, all on flat metal skewers.

SS would work, most I've seen are just steel, oiled and seasoned like a griddle.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Here you go: http://kalamala.com/barg-skewers-p-1080.html
and: http://kalamala.com/koubideh-skewers-p-1079.html
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These are interesting, but the nice Rosewood handles would catch fire inside the Weber grill, with the cover closed. Most skewers are designed on the assumption that the handles won't be in the fire, which is not the case here.
I did google for tandori skewers, and found some:
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
It's 44" long and is made of 5/16" square Type 304 stainless steel.
Elsewhere, I see home tandori skewers, 20" long by 3/16" square Type 304 SS.
Which led me to this site:
<http://superskewer.com/index.php#super_skewer_commercial
They like 1/8" round rod.
Their 3/8" wide by 12 gauge strips are 0.105" thick. Also Type 304 (18/8) SS.
Joe Gwinn
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Well, a bit of 1/4" or 3/8" wide strip would work better for what I cook.
There is a tandoori oven in the Indian Restaurant my wife and I often go to. They put the meat on what appear to be 6' long ~swords made of plain steel. The handle sticks out of the oven, and remains cool. I'll have to look at the blades. I think they are thicker than 1/16" and narrower than 1/2".

I did think of that, as I have used cast-iron skillets forever. But I don't use these skewers enough to not need to wash them, so they have to survive the dishwasher. Thus, stainless steel.
Cast iron skillets are cleaned by heating them up until the grease starts to smoke, dropping some water into them, and scraping with a steel spatula, rinse and wipe dry. I learned this from the short-order cook in a McDonalds where I worked as a teenager.
The grill I keep clean by running it very hot, usually 500 F, so the grease simply burns off. What doesn't is removed with a stainless-steel scouring pad held in long tongs and used on the hot grill bars, usually wit the flame still on High.
MSC sells lots of spring-stock steel strips that would work just fine as skewers, if rusting is no problem.
Joe Gwinn
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agree - think "sword" - that's what these things were originally - the commercial kitchens use steel, about 1/8 thick, about 1.5 inches wide for grill cooking
wrote:

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The flat skewers are usually aluminum. Why not use heavy Al wire for your skewer. Karl
Joseph Gwinn wrote:

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Great idea. I do not think that 1/8" is too large. Feels about right to me.
i
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They look pretty robust. We shall soon see it 1/8" is the right size. The first two skewers are out of the dishwasher.
A question for the welders out there: Which SS alloys can be welded or hard (silver) soldered without destroying the stainless property? I see lots of advice to re-passivate SS items that have been heated to a red heat, to avoid subsequent corrosion, but for many things I might make re-passivation would be pretty awkward, and I don't think all SS alloys require this.
For instance, food service furniture is welded and silver brazed, but is far too large to be dipped into a tank, and brush passivation is too slow.
Joe Gwinn
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Joe, this is bullshit.
Do not worry about it. Itwill not rust through. I have a stainless grill that is 10 years old and has seen a lot. The stainless on it is stained, but is in perfectshape.
i
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No, it isn't. Depends on the alloy. Many stainless steel alloys will rust, given the right excuse.
One thing that I'm finding in sellers of commercial-grade skewers is that Type 304 seems to be what they all use for SS, if they mention an alloy by number. However, these items are never heated to incandescence, as would be needed during hard soldering.

Yes, and so do I. But do you know which specific stainless steel alloy was used? That's the question.
Joe Gwinn
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Good question. The higher the chrome and nickel and the lower the carbon if it is going to be welded. But I do not know about silver soldering. The problem is that when heated high enough, the carbon in the stainless combines with the chrome to make chrome carbides. And that lowers the percentage of chrome so it no longer stainless. I do not know if the temperature for silver soldering is high enough that chrome carbides are formed. I also do not know that re-passivating will help.
Found on the internet
If any part of stainless-steel is heated in the range 500 degrees to 800 degrees for any reasonable time there is a risk that the chrome will form chrome carbides (a compound formed with carbon) with any carbon present in the steel. This reduces the chrome available to provide the passive film and leads to preferential corrosion, which can be severe. This is often referred to as sensitisation. Therefore it is advisable when welding stainless steel to use low heat input and restrict the maximum interpass temperature to around 175, although sensitisation of modern low carbon grades is unlikely unless heated for prolonged periods. Small quantities of either titanium (321) or niobium (347) added to stabilise the material will inhibit the formation of chrome carbides.
So the temperatures for silver soldering are high enough to cause problems But the time at high temperatures would be less than for welding. So I would expect stainless that is silver soldered to be more corrosion resistant than stainless that has been welded.
Dan
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I have read that for instance Type 302 can be returned to a state of grace by annealing after welding, while Type 304 can be used as welded, unless the corrosion environment is severe. I assume that annealing works by allowing chromium to diffuse into the chromium-deficient areas.

Very interesting. Now, we are getting to the bottom of this.
I recall that Type 321 is one of the choices for SS foil for heat treating. Type 309 being the other choice.

Yes. Encouraging, too. I also found the following: <http://www.wisconsinmetaltech.com/guide/type-304.html .
It sounds like I can use Type 304 and 316 for silver soldering, and probably don't need to use 304L or 316L. So long as one doesn't tarry too long at temperature.
Which is good, because 304/316 are far more easily bought in small quantities. Although McMaster carries both L and non-L types, for about the same money.
The food world seems to use 304, but it can be corroded by citrus fruit juice. One can taste this. When I eat cut fruit with a stainless steel spoon (made of 18/8 if I recall), if the spoon is in contact with the fruit for long, it gets a very bitter taste. I wonder if 316 is any better.
What's the best way to get the fire scale off the brazed SS assembly?
Joe Gwinn
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Forgot to answer this part of the question. The higher the chrome and nickel content the better. 308 is commonly used for welding 304. But one can use alloys with higher chrome and nickel content. So 309, 310 and 312 all have higher chrome and nickel content.
Dan
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The answer may be Types 304L and 316L.
I found the following on Wikipedia:
"Low-carbon versions, for example 316L or 304L, are used to avoid corrosion problem caused by welding. Grade 316LVM is preferred where biocompatibility is required (such as body implants and piercings). The "L" means that the carbon content of the alloy is below 0.03%, which reduces the sensitization effect (precipitation of chromium carbides at grain boundaries) caused by the high temperatures involved in welding."
Ref: Look near the photo of the girl in the bikini in <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stainless_steel .
And "9. What does the "L" designation mean?
Answer: The use of the letter L after the grade number, i.e., 304L, means that the carbon content is restricted to a MAXIMUM of 0.03% (normal levels are 0.08% max. and in some grades can be as high as 0.15% max.). This lower level of carbon is usually used where "welding" will be performed. The lower level of carbon helps to prevent the chromium from being depleted (by forming chrome carbides at the weld site) and therefore allow it to remain over 10
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I bought an assortment of TIG welding rods for such artsy-craftsy projects.
jsw
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