Uses and Benefits of Stainless Steel Tools - Red Box Tools

Stainless steel hand tools are known for their non-corrosive properties. Manufactured from iron alloy that contains at least 10.5% chromium, stainless steel tools have a thin layer of oxide on their surface, which helps to protect them from natural corrosion and oxidisation. The greater the volume of chromium in the tool, the higher its anti-corrosion properties.

You’ll find a range of tools manufactured in stainless steel, each containing a blend of iron and other elements. The important thing to be aware of when shopping for stainless steel tools is the grade. Stainless steel tool grades determine how resistant the tool is to corrosion, and, by proxy, the types of environments the tool is suited to – something we’ll expand on later. But first, let’s look at some of the benefits stainless steel hand tools offer.

common stainless steel tools

What are the Benefits of Using Stainless Steel Tools?

One of the best benefits of using stainless steel tools is their ability to withstand corrosion. The unique properties of the oxide barrier, something which only stainless steel tools possess, plays a big part in protecting the tool from rust and other elemental depreciation. This makes them a great choice for outdoor work as well as environments where precipitation or high levels of salt are present; marine environments being a good example.

Another great benefit of stainless steel tools is their strength. Tools made from stainless steel contain a blend of metal and non-metal elements, such as nickel, carbon, titanium, and nitrogen. These help to lend the tool strength and formability, which (along with the anti-corrosion properties) make stainless steel tools durable and hardwearing. In fact, with correct handling, stainless steel can retain its shape and appearance for many years with barely any maintenance.

Where are Stainless Steel Tools Used?

Stainless steel tools perform best in environments where corrosion is a concern. You’ll often find stainless steel used in surgical tools, because of its hygienic and antibacterial properties.

Stainless steel tools are also common in architectural and landscaping applications, where the risk of exposure to moisture and damp conditions is present. For similar reasons, you’ll find stainless steel tools widely adopted in marine environments, because of their enhanced anti-corrosion benefits compared to carbon tools.

Understanding the Types and Grades of Steel Used for Tools

The grades of stainless steel refer to the chemical make-up of the material and determine what stainless steel is used for. Stainless steel grades are commonly split into low carbon families, high carbon families, and other grades, of which 304, 304L, 316 and 402 are the most common.

304 grade stainless steel can withstand temperatures of up to 870°C and offers good all-round anti-corrosive properties. It’s also able to withstand most sterilisation processes without corroding.

304L grade stainless steel contains lower level of carbon compared with grade 304. This helps to create seamless welds that reduce the risk of bacteria build-ups.

316 grade stainless steel contains 2% Molybdenum content. This makes it more resistant to pitting corrosion. It can also withstand chlorine up to 500mg/l.

402 grade stainless steel contains 12% chromium and a relatively high level of carbon (0.15 to 0.4%). It offers corrosion resistance and strength at an affordable price.

Commonly Used Stainless Steel Tools

1. Stainless Steel Wrenches

Stainless steel wrenches are ideal for a number of applications. Compared to aluminium wrenches, stainless steel wrenches have excellent strength and durability, making them perfect for heavy-duty applications requiring high levels of torque.

As a tool type that tends to suffer from rust, the anti-corrosion properties of stainless steel wrenches makes them perfect if you’re looking for a long-lasting tool you can use even in wet or humid environments.

stainless steel adjustable wrench

2. Stainless Steel Tweezers

Stainless steel tweezers are an excellent choice when you need a reliable tool to help you with fiddly assembly work in restrained or hard to reach places.

Stainless steel tweezers aren’t only durable, they’re also easy to clean and have a high resistance to acid, salt and other corrosive substances.

stainless steel tweezers

3. Stainless Steel Sockets & Ratchets

If you’re prone to working in extremely humid or moist environments, such as ship maintenance, you’re probably going to want to invest in stainless steel sockets and rachets.

The great thing about stainless steel rachets and sockets is that they don’t wear like their carbon counterparts do, so they aren’t at risk of rust or corrosion. If you’re constantly having to fasten or unfasten rusty bolts, your tools will survive a lot longer if you opt for a stainless steel style.

stainless steel socket

4. Stainless Steel Pliers

Like other stainless steel hand tools, stainless steel pliers offer you the advantage of corrosion-resistance, strength, and durability.

This makes the stainless steel plier perfectly suited to a range of applications, in environments where the risk of exposure to moisture would be a concern for most metal tools.

stainless steel combination pliers

5. Stainless Steel Measuring Tools

Stainless steel measuring tools, such as squares and rulers, offer a much longer shelf life than those made from other materials.

The non-corrosive nature of stainless steel means you won’t have to worry about rust or corrosion taking these tools out of action, while their material-make-up gives them a superior strength and durability

stainless steel square

6. Stainless Steel Tool Chests

Stainless steel is the perfect material for tool chests. Strong, lightweight, and anti-corrosive, it offers you a protective casing for your tools that’s highly-resistant to moisture, rust, or damage – even in humid and marine environments.

If you want a tool organisation solution that’s robust and won’t rust, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel tool chest.

stainless steel tool chest

7. Screwdrivers & Screwdriver Bits

Stainless steel screwdrivers offer you all the convenience of a standard screwdriver but with the added bonus of high-corrosion resistance. The same applies to stainless steel screwdriver bits.

These offer you great longevity while being versatile enough to be applied in all kinds of climates and conditions, without rusting or corroding.

stainless steel screwdriver set

8. Stainless Steel Hammers

The natural protective oxide film – a common of feature of all stainless steel tools – makes stainless steel a great material for hammers. This self-protecting layer safeguards against corrosive substances and other harmful chemicals.

Best of all, it’s resilient in all weathers and won’t wear thin even with repeated striking.

stainless steel hammer

9. Stainless Steel Gardening Tools

Stainless steel is a perfect choice of material for gardening hand tools such as spades, trowels, forks, and hoes. Stainless steel gardening tools are strong and powerful, giving you all you need to tend to borders and soil beds.

Their natural resistance to corrosion, such as rust, means they can be used in moist and wet environments, without any danger of degrading.

stainless steel gardening tools

What is Marine Grade Stainless Steel?

Marine grade steel is essentially stainless steel that’s of a grade 316. This class of stainless steel offers high levels of resistance to chlorine and contains 2% Molybdenum content, not present in other stainless steel grades.

This makes grade 316 stainless steel compatible with brines and salt solutions, the likes of which are commonly found in marine environments, which is why it’s considered suitable for marine-based applications.

How to Maintain Stainless Steel Tools

Stainless steel tools actually require very little maintenance compared to other metal tool types, which is another of their key benefits versus carbon steel tools. Their natural anti-corrosion properties offer them a high degree of protection from rust, which eliminates the need for constant cleaning or oiling.

The only thing you really need do to prolong the life these tools is them keep well organised in a tool chest or similar storage solution.

Popular Stainless Steel Tools

At Red Box Tools we stock a wide range of Bahco stainless steel tools and tool boxes in a variety of stainless steel grades.

Whether you’re seeking low-maintenance measuring tools, a stainless steel screwdriver, or just a set of gardening tools that won’t rust, we offer tools for all industries and applications.

BAHCO 9857


BAHCO SS236-08-80


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