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I Forge Iron

304 stainless square tube


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I am in the process of building a forge from  20lb propane tank and am looking for a few first forge projects. I want to make a pig tail meat turner for my trailer mounted smoker from some strut springs I have. I also have a 5ft piece of 2inx2in 304 stainless tube. I was thinking of maybe making a long handle spatula from it. Not sure how I would prep the tube and was wondering if I could make the spatula part from stainless and forge weld some of the strut spring to it as a handle? Or is 304 too much of a pain to work with and I should just toss it?

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11 minutes ago, Steve Sells said:

304 is easy to work with,  not so sure about forge welding, SS is not a beginner steel to weld, and the needed flux is toxic

Thanks! Any advice on prepping it? cut it in half? I could make the whole spatula from it i guess just curious about best way to cut it for the project...without having to use 17 blades on bandsaw....lol

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For cutting with my angle grinder, I switched to diamond blades a while ago. They are a bit slower than the old kind, but you maintain a consistent diameter and they work a treat on SS. I think I got mine from Diamond Blade Warehouse. I used them for all my masonry diamond blades and when they offered them for metal, I jumped and never looked back. I agree with Irondragon- make the spatula blade from ss and rivet to the handle.

Steve

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What is the wall thickness? It is probably best used by cutting off a length and slitting an edge so you can unwrap it and have a flat sheet. Then you can make bowls, spatulas, ladles, spoons, etc from the sheet. An abrasive cutoff wheel works great for cutting stainless. Also, there is a process to restore stainless steel after hot work, you will want to look that up.

As mentioned, rivets are probably the best way to attach a handle.

I would keep the tube for other uses as well. SS tube is good for canister welds if you get into that down the line, you can also fabricate a stand or stool if you have an electric welder.

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  • 4 weeks later...

From working in the food production industry I will say that 304 is indeed food grade and is widely used in food and beverage unless superior corrosion resistance is required for things like tomato paste with high acid content which is when 316L would generally be used. 

My very first project was a set of BBQ tools for my father in law and I used a drop of 304SS sheet from work as the spatula and riveted it to a forged mild steel handle. Turned out quite well. 

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I concur.  Our food grade trailers are constructed from 304SS, while the chemical grade trailers are typically 316SS. Recently we've purchased a couple that are made from Duplex 2205 SS which are supposedly even more corrosion resistant.  Time will tell.

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I guess my customers get a better deal than yours.

Just because a steel alloy is marketed as being “food grade” doesn’t mean it’s the right material for your production process.

There are a number of different stainless steel alloys on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to resisting specific chemicals and production environments.

For example, salt is known for being exceptionally corrosive to metal compounds. While grade 304 stainless steel is resistant to most corrosives, prolonged exposure to salt can still eat away at it. So, grade 304 stainless wouldn’t be suitable for any process requiring repeated, prolonged exposure to salt or saltwater.

Grade 316 stainless, on the other hand, is much more resistant to salt exposure than grade 304. This makes grade 316 stainless steel preferable for food makers that use salt or saltwater in their products.

https://www.marlinwire.com/blog/food-grade-stainless-steel-facts

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Neither option is particularly good for stress corrosion cracking caused by aqueous chloride solutions.  Many things come into play, such as temperature, concentration of the chlorides in the solution, etc. We've had 316 SS trailers which have had corrosion holes bored all the way through them in less than a year of service transporting brine solutions. Those have had to be lined to continue the service.   Duplex 2205 supposedly has more resistance to damage from chloride solutions, but we haven't had those in use long enough for me to know if there is a significant difference yet.

304 is used extensively for USP grade products, pharmaceuticals, kosher grade food products, milk hauling, etc.  It is the standard for food grade products that are not significantly basic or acidic.

In the context of this discussion, a spatula made from 304 would not be an issue if the surface was brought up to a fine finish and passivated.

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Spatula, spoon, etc. left in a pot used for cooking tomatos.

Same in a brine for smoking meat, fish etc, 

Since I do work for commercial fishing  businesses it is simpler to just use 316 L for everything except structural elements.

Your milage may vary.

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