316 stainless steel is a grade of stainless that is quite suitable for welding. The 300 number makes it a non-hardened steel, which is easier to work with than hardened 400-level stainless. Your welds must be protected from oxidation using an argon-mixed gas or self-shielded stainless welding wire.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Mig welder
- Flux-cored self-shielded wire
- Argon/oxygen shielding gas
- Face shield
- 316 stainless metal
- Leather gloves
- Welding curtain
- Protective clothing
Set up the mig welding machine. You will need shielded stainless steel welding wire or a tank of argon/oxygen shielding gas to protect the 316 stainless weld. Clean your work surface of all debris. Plug the machine into a grounded outlet. Turn on the shielding gas (if you are not using shielded wire) and make sure your workstation is enclosed behind a welding curtain or outdoors away from any people. Pull the trigger on the welder to make sure that the wire is automatically feeding correctly.
Measure and clamp the two pieces of metal that you wish to weld. Each welding surface must be cleaned from all oils, dirt and debris. Brush each piece with a stainless welding brush. Place the ground clamp of the mig welder on a steel surface that is close to the location that you wish to weld.
Begin welding. Work in a straight line away from your body, making sure not to retrace over the same part or your weld twice. Check to make sure your project is square as you weld each piece. Occasionally parts can shift as you weld them.
Brush the hot weld with a stainless wire brush. This will remove any welding debris and create a shiny surface on the weld.
Cool your project in a bucket of water. You should hear a hissing sound and steam will appear as soon as the project hits the water. Your project should be cool to the touch after a few minutes in the bucket.
Tips and warnings
- If a stainless weld is not shielded, it will develop pitting from oxidation and make the weld much weaker.
- Never weld without a welding helmet, gloves and protective clothing. Looking directly at the light generated from welding can cause blindness.
- Never touch any part of a welded object with your bare hands. The temperature of the metal will burn your skin instantly.
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