View Full Version : ID a mystery metal?

Doc Nickel
11-22-2009, 04:42 PM
Friend of mine wanted a chunk of stainless for a knife project. I found a likely bar in my little scrap bin, and set to chop off a piece. Using a slitting saw in my horizontal, I lopped off a piece... I don't think it was stainless.

It cut too easily to be stainless (maybe- maybe- 303) and the newly-cut edge had the same very, very faint yellow tinge that the rest of the bar had.

I'd ignored the faint "discoloration" the bar had, as I'd found this particular piece in the dirt in a junkyard. It was heavy (IE, not aluminum) not magnetic (IE, not plated steel) and not yellow or red (IE, not brass or copper) so I tossed it in the stainless bin.

The knife application is just a bolster, so it really doesn't matter what it is- in fact, a brass/bronze will probably work easier than a stainless (he's doing most of the work by hand, with files.)

But I'm still curious what it might be. Just off the top of my head, I might want to say an aluminum bronze, due to the color- but it's my understanding that aluminum bronzes are tough and hard to machine. This stuff cut and filed like brass, but is as "white" as slightly-tarnished stainless.

I was thinking of touching a corner with a TIG arc, and seeing what the weld puddle looked like. A stainless should be pretty obvious, while a bronze- depending on the alloy- may spatter and smoke.


doctor demo
11-22-2009, 04:51 PM
Try a spark test on a grinder and compare to a known sample,and see if it melts at a low temp if the spark test comes up a looser.


11-22-2009, 04:55 PM
Sounds a lot like Monel,it cuts easier than 304,but it work hardens like a b----.

11-22-2009, 05:00 PM
Well here's a dubious bit of advice. I was told years ago you could tell the quality of a SS cooking set by placing a magnet on it and testing the attraction strength.

I believe it had something to do with the nickel content not sure. In any case, perhaps try the magnet test against a known good quality SS.

Doc Nickel
11-22-2009, 05:12 PM
1) Huh. Didn't even think of a spark test. BRB. :D

2) Doubt it's Monel. I've worked that and Inconel a time or two, but this stuff cuts easier than even mild steel. I went into it with the slitting saw with some trepidation, thinking I'd wipe out a good saw. Instead, it sailed right through it.

3) No magnetic attraction at all. None. With a powerful enough magnet, even 303 has a very faint pull, this stuff has none, zilch, zero.


11-22-2009, 05:19 PM
Nitronic then? It's the only other SS like alloy I know of that acts decent.

11-22-2009, 05:45 PM
Sounds a lot like Monel,it cuts easier than 304,but it work hardens like a b----.

This is exactly what I was gonna say.
I'll go with that.

Now you know that you will need to take a sample and get it analized so we all know who was right.;)

Doc Nickel
11-22-2009, 05:48 PM
Virtually no sparks. So few that it makes me think what sparks I do see are from steel already embedded in the wheel.

Certainly not the sparks I'd expect from any typical stainless, or the shower of white sparks had it been titanium.

So- most likely some obscure bronze alloy?


11-22-2009, 05:54 PM
Doc, could it maybe be Nickel Silver? your comment on the slight yellowish tinge makes me think that way.