304 bolsters?

LobosStyle Blades

Well-Known Member
I've been using 304ss for bolsters and guards for a while and it definitely takes a lot longer to finish properly. I'm OCD so if there's a scratch or imperfection I'll take it back to the bench and work it out. Being a hobby maker I have the luxury of time and enjoy the process. Pins do have to be sourced out from other places unless you have a local supplier you can get it all at. I live in San Diego and we have a number of places that sell 304ss for building and manufacturing.

The biggest drawback I've seen with it is that it is hard to work with in drilling and thread tapping. When drilling I'll do a low rpm with a lot of oil but if I have to tap I generally use another material. After breaking 4 tapping sets the cost difference wasn't worth it. Mixing the 304 and 416 stainless types you'll see a difference in the color of the steel. 416 tends to have a bit more blue in it and the pins will show when finished.

A question for the MS in the group in judging .... what would be your take on use brass for bolsters/guards as opposed to steel? I like the look and finish of it for certain pieces and the cost isn't too bad. I'm new to forging and have only finished one forged blade, but plan on eventually working my way up to the proper training.


I can get an almost endless supply of TIG wires left over from construction projects. These are 308ss and 316ss. sizes 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32. Has anyone tried these for pins?

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I have a pile of 316 and i don’t know why. If I recall, 416 got scarce when I was making my last purchase and 316 was available.

Anyhoo, 316 is working out fine for me.