Stainless recommendations

Oct 26, 2000
I'm looking for a good stainless steel for making specialty potter's tools. These small knives and carving tools need to be stainless enough to survive being dropped into water and left there for months with no ill effects. Edge holding is not as much a concern as being rust proof.

I have currently been using titanium for the blades but am running out of material of the appropriate size.

Any ideas guys? Thanks,

Peter Atwood

I'm no expert, so take the advice with a industrial sized block of salt. (I figured I would give my educated guess since no one else has answered as of yet.)

If you were using Ti before, and it was holding up OK you could probably get away with any corrosion resistant stainless. Maybe a 303 or 302/304 series? Knifemakers usually use these types of stainless for bolsters and such, but I think for pottery use it would be OK. Using any type of metal against pottery will probably kill the edge really fast no matter what, so maybe the 302/304 would be best as it doesn't have added sulfer for easier machinability.

Check for info on the different steel types, and what benifits each has. (Bottom right of page, under "Raw Materials" click "Metals" and it will get you to the right section.)

It's also a decent source for smaller quantities of stuff.
Talonite would certainly work, but unless the tools are quite small, might not be cost-effective.

Don Cowles
Wow, talonite potters tools? What a luxury that would be! I am sure these are intended for use on wet to leather hard clay and not on the fired pieces, so corrosion resistance first, then abrasion resistance, and hardness last. Trim tools of carbon steel used to trim the 'foot' of a thrown piece wear out fairly fast, but only need to be so so sharp by our standards. Dont let my full-time potter wife see this or she will have me making some!
Even the best stainless steels might (make that in all likelihood would) rust (it's technically only stain resistant) if left in water that long. Halpern Titanium has more Ti possibly in the sizes you want, assuming that has worked well for you. Some of the folks hereabouts probably can give you some other sources if HT doesn't have what you want.
The tools we used in shool were mostly copper. They seemed to hold up fairly well except for being bent up and abused alot. I don't know how professionals feel about it though, I think they bought the cheapest tools possible because at least one credit of art is required to graduate and a lot of people weren't real excited about making anything.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer... but I've got the sharpest knife in the room.
Fox Creek has the right idea here. These tools are intended to be used on wet or leather hard clay. I've been using narrow strips of titanium to make what are called fettling knives, with smooth black micarta for the handles and 2-56 SS screws for the pins. The strips are between 3/8"-3/4" in width and about .050 in thickness.

Copper is not suitable for this application as it will corrode and is too soft to hold an edge.

I'll check out the link to Mcmaster Carr Troy, thanks.

Peter Atwood

This is one area that I know nothing about but there was a company that was basically selling scraps of Stellite a while back. I don't know how large these pieces need to be but someone bought some from Now remember, these are scraps.

C Wilkins