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Bolster material: 316 vs. 416 ss

Discussion in 'Steel, Hardware, & Handle Material' started by dancom, May 30, 2014.

  1. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Hi all,

    Anyone with experience making bolsters every tried 316 stainless? I have located a vendor that has 304 and 316 bar stock in the width and thickness I am looking for and it's a local pickup.

    Thanks in advance for your input,

    Dan
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  2. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    I've been going by the theory that as long as the bar matches the pin material so that the pins are not visible you are good to go either way.
     
  3. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I have not much experience with bolsters. I have only used 416 on the one I've done so far. If 304 or 316 is okay, I'll try some on my next project. A machinist friend of mine says 304 will be fine, but he suggested that 316 would be better corrosion resistance. Would that come into play on a kitchen knife?
     
  4. Tony Manifold

    Tony Manifold New Member

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    I would think so. Some food can be quite acidic and people pay less attention to looking after the handle of a kitchen knife then the blade.
     
  5. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I am certainly no metallurgist, but I did a little research on SS for bolsters:

    304 = 18% Cr, 8% Ni (also called 18/8).
    Low carbon, Austenitic, cannot be hardened.

    316 = 18% Cr, 10% Ni (also called 18/10 or Marine Grade).
    Improved corrosion resistance.
    Used in cutlery and cookware.
    Also, low carbon, Austenitic, cannot be hardened.

    416 = 12 to 14% Cr, <1% Ni.
    High carbon, Martensitic, can be hardened by heat treatment.
    Used in shafts, gears, axles etc.
    Easy to machine due to additional sulphur.

    So the common flavours of SS bar stock, 316 would be a logical choice for bolsters. Unless you're looking to make hardened bolsters.

    Dan
     
  6. Jim T

    Jim T Active Member

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    I've never tried 316. I've used 303 and 304 for decorative handle pins, but I haven't tried them as bolster material. Word is, 303 and 304 is kind of "greasy" to work with and is harder to get a decent shiny finish. That being said, I'm no authority on the matter. I continue to use 416, even though it's not as easy to find locally (plus it's more expensive than the 300 series stainless steels).

    Jim T
     
  7. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Thanks Jim.

    I have heard that 304 is difficult to work with and hard to polish, yet some makers that use it swear by it and appreciate the fact that it is so tough. (I kinda want my bolster to be tough!)

    Another thing that has popped up is that 416 requires a heat treatment in order to achieve its toughness and corrosion resistance, yet even after hardening, the corrosion resistance is about the same as 304.

    Referencing: http://www.nickelinstitute.org/~/Me...erature/StainlessSteelsforMachining_9011_.pdf

    "For example, Type S17700 has a machinability rating of 45, in comparison to Type 416 stainless steel at 100 percent.
    The corrosion resistance of these steels in the hardened condition is about equal to that of Type 304."


    One guy who swears by 304: http://www.jayfisher.com/Handles_Bolsters_Guards_Fittings.htm

    So, I am going to go ahead and try some 304 and see how much of a pain it really is. (I am a sucker for punishment!)

    :)

    Dan
     
  8. Jim T

    Jim T Active Member

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    Ain't no doubt -- Jay Fisher makes some beautiful knives and I know he's a staunch advocate of 304 stainless steel. More power to you, Dan. I'm eager to hear your opinion on how 304 stacks up aginst 416.

    Jim T
     
  9. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    I tried 304 once. I found it would work harden easily and was hard to sand. I would think it would make a super tough guard, but it sure is hard to get it finished.
     
  10. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    UPDATE:
    So far so good. I started the bolsters this morning. So far, the 304 seems pretty much like 416. I used a cobalt bit and cutting fluid, cuts about the same as far as I can tell. I was running the grinder down to around 2200 FPM with a 60 grit. Maybe speed control is working in my favour. I tried the front of the bolster with a fine Norax belt, again running slow. Then a minute with the black compound on the cotton wheel.

    [​IMG]

    Not sure I want a mirror finish for this application, but as an experiment, it is certainly attainable with stock 304 SS.

    Dan
     
  11. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Active Member

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    This. Unless you're intentionally trying to have pins that read, and in that event you could use whatever pin material you wanted for contrast.
     
  12. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    Hey Dan. Just curious if you have any new opinions on the 304 stainless. I'm considering picking some up locally but I would love to hear any other opinions any of you may have.
     
  13. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Works great. I bought a 3/8" x 1-1/2" bar. It is a little more work to sand and shape than 416, but shines up very nice indeed and can't go wrong with the price.

    Dan
     
  14. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    The only thing you may run into is the odd case of rust spots developing on the stainless steel parts.
    This gets started by iron particles being imbedded in things like buffing wheels and sanding belts.
    A acid bath after grinding and filing can dissolve the iron particles, separate tools is the best but not likely in a small shop.
     
  15. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    I think I will try the 304 but I will not buy too big of a piece. I can't wait to start working on knives again.
     
  16. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I picked up a couple of feet of 3/8" x 1-1/2" at Metal Supermarket. Under $40. It will last a LONG time.
     
  17. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    That's about right. I think my price was $42 for 3/8 × 3.5 × 12. I'm still not sure what width I will go with but I like wider bars so I can "nest" gaurd so when I cut them out.
    1/4 round was in believe $9 for 12 feet!
     
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