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how to tell carbon of stainless


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There is no way that I know of. I noticed when I worked in a mill that the brighter, more like new silver, the steel was the less carbon and the softer it was.

This is not a sure indicator because there are some very hard alloys that have very little carbon in them an look silvery. If it is scrap then the best indicatory will be what it was used for previously.

Personally, I wouldn't invest much time or effort in a piece of unknown stainless unless it was going in to a piece of sculpture. Certainly not the kind of effort it takes to make a knife.

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Cut a small piece off and heat to an orange and quench in water. Then CAREFULLY try to break it.
If it shatters (EYE PROTECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) then it's a high carbon stainless.

But as was mentioned---- very unlikely and if it is they generally need professional heat treating to get the best out of them.

Edited by ThomasPowers
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If it is stainless, my guess is a 300 series as it has a dull appearance and rust spots. Stainless does not mean it won't rust, or that it is non-magnetic. It just means it has chromium in a certain range of percentages in it. Even passivised many stainless steels will have a dull appearance, but good overall corrosion tolerance. Use it for feet on a stand, drilled and threaded to be adjustable. Would make a good doorstop too. It's probably "mild" and not hardenable. Stainless is typically harder than mild, but tends to not get much harder. Since it is hex stock it probably was intended for a supporting part and not a cutting device or a machined shaft.

I tried turning some cuff links out of 300 series stainless, came out like *%$#. I was inspired by some I saw in silver. Looked sorta ok at first, but became quite dull in appearance. Very difficult to cut clean threads in due to its hardness. Tapping went a little better, but not very good. The surface finish was lacking too. A friend used the rest of the bar to make some pommels for stage weapons a few years later. He ended up painting them because they didn't look like he wanted either.

I'm sure you will find some good use for it. It may be hard enough to use as a mini anvil or positive form swage the way it is until you find a better use.


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