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Stainless steel sailboat railings

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  • Stainless steel sailboat railings

    I've been helping a friend out on his sailboat projects. The most recent aspect has been in fabricating new railings. I basically try to point him in the right direction, purchase tools on his dime, and try to get him to take his time so he doesn't booger up all of his expensive material. He has been learning that when dealing with compound bends and tube notching, small mistakes in calculations equate to large discrepancies in the final product.

    We did the bends (by hand) on my Hossfeld #2, and we coped the joints with a JMR notcher (see post under "tube notchers" in the Motorsports section). He made some templates, we hit most of the marks , and I tacked them together so he could check them back on the boat before final welding.

    All the material is 1.25 x .083 316 stainless steel tubing. It has a very substantial look and he is not concerned about the extra weight compared to the old railings. Gonna look great!

    1) JMR notcher
    2) 1.25 tubing die
    3) tacked up
    4) tacked up

    Thanks for looking.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Looks nice
    how may hole saws did it take to cope the 8 joints, even on the .065 I have used it trashes the hole saw teeth the cope joints are pretty good but not great. how'ed yours go with the .083 wall ??



    • #3
      don't overheat it

      Originally posted by pescaloco View Post
      Looks nice
      how may hole saws did it take to cope the 8 joints, even on the .065 I have used it trashes the hole saw teeth the cope joints are pretty good but not great. how'ed yours go with the .083 wall ??

      One saw.

      Well, technically two. I noticed that the first saw had an unacceptable amount of runout when we spun it before we started. So we picked up another from a different manufacturer. I don't recall the make of either offhand.

      We coped some pretty steep joints, too, but you have to take your time. I let my buddy do the drilling, but kept reminding him to let the material and blade cool. Once it gets too hot, you're "toast", as they say.
      This also goes for drill bits when drilling holes. You can really stretch a bit a long ways when you start with a sharp bit, use some lubrication , and the right RPM. Once a bit goes dull and you start to struggle, go to a new bit or sharpen the old.

      An old machinist always told me, "Speed + feed." (RPM + feed rate into the material).


      • #4
        Right you are, a friend turned me on to using wax as a cutting lube.
        It seems when feeding in the saw as the teeth start to cut they have a tendancy to chip.


        • #5
          What kind of hole-saw are you using? Bi-metal, I 'm sure.

          The source where I purchased the notcher from offered these cutters,

          but I didn't take the bait.
          I'd be interested to hear if anyone on the forum has tried them.

          To be honest, I've had equal results with cheap Chinese drill bits and with expensive USA bits. Both will dull if used improperly... and both sharpen in a pinch. I realize the "good" bits will hold an edge longer overall and have a tighter tolerance, but I'm usually making furniture, not spacecraft.


          • #6
            Been using Milwaukee bi-metal but to be honest my run in speed may be part of the problem. It's been a while since I notched any s/s tube and I don't remember what the exact problem was but the teeth seemed to have a hard time making a clean cut and maybee I tried to go too fast.

            I think 1 inch .065 tubing I have used is just not very forgiving and a hole saw is not a great way to cope joints. With the thin edges, burn through or just keeping a very small and even bead profile is challanging (and it is boat railing so looks are important)

            Again Nice job on your project the 1.25 tube looks much nicer on a boat in my opinion.



            • #7
              Nice looking railings, I hope we get to pictures of them installed!

              We us Husky brand hole saws at work with pretty good results. Most of our cutting is aluminum so not as tough as stainless, But as Chris mentioned it's a combination of RPM, feed speed and lubrication that ultimately decide bit life.


              • #8
                Very Nice!

                I have had luck with husky, and the red van santent hole saws, but I have been using them on 4130. Never had luck with milwaukee's on the 4130, they loose the teeth very fast as opposed to the other brands... just my exp...


                • #9
                  i've been using blu-mol hole saws and sawzall blades for the last 12 years and am very satisfied with them. i haven't replaced a hole saw in a long time. like you guys said- feed and speed. for thick material, slow speed and heavy pressure with some kind of coolant (even water!) for thin tubing i like high speed and a very slow feed to avoid chipping teeth.


                  • #10
                    Those are some nice looking railings... As for hole saws, I've had the best luck with "lenox" brand picked up at my local welding store. Everything i've bought from ACE or Home Depot had broken on me by the 2nd use. I just tried Blu-mol drill bits the other day for drilling the million little holes in some 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/16th thick SS square stock for a grill burner i'm making for a guy.. Eventually had to go to the "nut and bolts store" and they had some weird name bits, but they were cobalt and that's supposed to be the strongest..put it this way.. I broke 12 bits, 8 of them were the TI-Ni coated HSS and 4 of them being blu-mol bits..Even the blue mol would dull up after 2 holes or so...These cobalt bits have drilled about 180-some of the 288 holes in each unit (cobalt has gone through 2 bits (broke one) it took the other 12 bits to do the other 100 holes


                    • #11
                      What boat?

                      The railings look great. The larger diameter will also make a deck ape feel a little more comfortable in rough seas.

                      Has anyone used hole cutters for coping. Go to and access page 2366 in their online catalog. These are normally used with a mag drill but I have had greats results using them in a mill or even lathe. these cutters are precise with negligible runout and are much heavier than a hole saw. It would take a lot of cuts through any tubing to wear one out.
                      the carbide would last until you chipped it.

                      What little coping I have done I have used my milling machine. For small stuff, 1" or less I have used an end mill with great results.

                      Speeds and feeds is everything in making a cut, not matter what cut you are making. Lubrication and/or coolant is a big factor also. By the time you know your cutting tool is hot, it is too late.

                      What kind of boat is is going on? Keep the pics coming.

                      Last edited by grits; 11-02-2008, 08:05 PM.


                      • #12
                        I switched to using hole cutters from Kimball Midwest:


                        I am currently doing a project that will have over 4,000 11/16" holes through 11ga square tubing. About 1/2 way through and the one roto kut I bought for this project is going strong. A bit pricy @ 67 bucks for an 11/16" but I'd be spending a lot more with any other bit. They are very accurate size wise.


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