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Best Stainless Steel

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  • Best Stainless Steel

    Hi Guy's What is the general acceptence in the USA as the Best Grade of Stainless Steel for general purpose applications, Where some degree of corrosion resistance is desireable but machines the easiest with the Best Posible finish straight of the tool bit????

    Many thanks in advance.

    Best Regards. Jack.

  • #2

    Assuming your work doesn't need heat treat, the best choice for machining is 303 Se. While 303 S machines quite well, the Se has the edge, leaving a slightly better finish. If you're not familiar with both of them, you might not notice much difference, however.

    The very best machining stainless is 416. It's a free machining grade that is heat treatable and is a real pleasure to machine. Unlike mild steel, it cuts without tearing, leaving a very nice finish.



    • #3
      I've had very good luck with the 303 grades. Made a transfer roll for our reverse roll coating head out of a chunk of it, left 0.010" all over it for the micro grinders to clean it up. Lathe finish was real nice, they polished the journals and the face to a near mirror quality. Since then it has become my material of choice for such items where some corrosion resistance is needed. In fact we used to cut parts from steel then have them industrial hard chromed, rollers had to be ground after chroming. I found it's about a wash dollarwise just making the parts from 303 and "polishing" with a file and sandpaper on the lathe. Now only super accurate stuff gets ground.

      -Christian D. Sokolowski


      • #4
        Hi Jack,

        Go to the McMaster-Carr website at and enter "stainless steel" (no quotes) in the search box and hit enter or click the Find button. The right-hand panel will fill with a page that shows the different forms available. This is followed by a table listing the various alloys and rating them for machinability, etc. Following the table is a brief description of each alloy. You could save the page or print it out for reference.

        Leigh W3NLB
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