Stainless Steel Wire (surgical steel)
by Cindy Devine
(Tarpon Springs, Fl.)
Hi Stacy! What is your opinion on using stainless steel wire? Do you know the strength of it, how pliable it is or how well it fires and oxidizes?
Sorry about the slow response. I just discovered that my answer had not been posted. I have never worked with Stainless steel myself and can't advise you on it's workability for wire jewelry use. Stainless steel is an alloy consisting of mostly steel with a small amount of chromium. It is much more resistant to tarnish and rust than regular steel which rusts very easily.
I do know that Surgical steel usually also contains small amounts of nickel which is a very common metal allergen. I myself cannot wear it or anything containing nickel in my ears. And, I know that you cannot use the same jewelry-making tools you use when working with non-ferrous metals like silver, gold, copper, etc. to work with steel, stainless steel, etc., ESPECIALLY your cutters! Steel in any form is too hard and will ruin them!
Stainless steel can be purchased soft and can be work-hardened. As to exactly how to do this, what temperature it needs to be, safety precautions, etc. I'm unable to give you a reliable answer as I've never worked with it. Since the metal has really gained in popularity recently, I'm sure there are artists out there who are qualified to answer your questions about stainless steel.