How to Work with Stainless Steel Tubing & Fittings

There are a lot of practical uses for stainless steel tubing on a boat like stanchion poles, bimini frames, awnings, bow rails, solar panels, and grab rails. The advantages to using stainless steel are its corrosion resistance and durability, but those characteristics also make working with it a little trickier than with aluminum.

Jim Grant (Sailrite founder) has been working on renovating his Islander 37, so we joined him as he made and installed a new stainless steel stanchion pole on his boat. Stanchions are used for installing lifelines around the deck of a boat. Check out our How to Install and Make Stanchion Poles Video to learn a few of our tips and tricks for working with stainless steel tubing and fittings and of course how to make a stanchion pole.

We have added new stainless steel stanchion hardware and tubing connectors to better accommodate your many tubing and framing projects. See our entire line of Frames & Fittings before you start your next project.

Join the conversation! Leave a Reply below with your comments, questions, or suggestions.

  1. Cassie said:

    arrrrrrgh. Very painful to watch. using 5 minute tube epoxy to fill through holes…..ouch…will never last. Using a jig saw instead of a pipe cutter to cut tubing….ouch. And then the next shot is of a tube cut by a pipe cutter ….ouch, the tape on his jig saw shoe covers the section that allows you see where the blade is…..ouch. Installing plain nuts instead of nylock or at least adding a lock washer under your flat washer…. ouch.I think you ought to get a craftsman to do your videos and not the owner of the company.

    sorry just thought I’d let you know.


    • Cassie said:

      Thanks for your comments, Ed. I really appreciate your taking the time to tell us where we “went wrong”. So don’t take any of my responses below in defense as a personal attack.

      First, let me say that I think you miss the point. Sailrite has always stressed that it is a “do it yourself” oriented business. For years (less so as the decades go by and the business grows and grows) we have been criticized for even suggesting that sails can be made by ordinary sailors. We don’t emphasize “craftsmanship” – we use the approach of my graduate school mentor at the University of Chicago with regard to my PhD thesis. He kept repeating: “Don’t get it right, get it WRIT.” I am willing to bet that you have never purchased a Sailrite kit and that is OK – it’s just that you can’t “get in the spirit” without giving up the idea that difficult tasks must be assigned to craftsmen.

      Now, turning to your specific points. I thought the 5 minute epoxy worked very well. Of course, it has not been tested in the water yet so I may eat these words. But remember our orientation. We want to make DIY easy and inexpensive. The epoxy that I used is much cheaper and available in smaller quantities than the specialized marine products. What would your “craftsman” have used? If it is easy to buy and use, I will pass your suggestion on to our video viewers.

      We intentionally used the jigsaw to demonstrate that commonly available tools are up to the task. As you point out, Sailrite has more professional tools, but they are not absolutely necessary for the work. That is the point.

      We were able to see the blade as it cut the tubing in spite of the tape. We must have pushed the tape out of the way. I agree that the video does not make this clear.

      I am not too concerned about the use of plain nuts without lock washers (even though most of the work was done with nylock nuts as you suggest) because, having installed all of them, I am confident of the ease with which they can all be tightened when necessary. Even so, you are right here, I should have used nylocks.

      So I will continue my work on the boat. I get in about 5 hours every day. And, believe me, it is a labor of love. I am having a ball. I hope that the boat is as much fun to sail as it is to restore.

      Jim Grant

  2. Good job Cassie, really appreciable. I am really surprised that how you did all fittings in a very short time. Using stainless steels is very clever way to protect your boat from corrosion. Thanks for the video.

  3. Jamie said:

    Good one – Stainless Steel is so important to get right for the Boat. Also here is a useful infographic on exactly how Stainless Steel works:

    and also in choosing stainless fasteners – for your stanchion on the boat or deck at home – here is a good guide on grade selection:

    and also on wher the variouse grades are

  4. Please! No silicone on deck!!! You’ll never be able to paint near there again. Also, silicone will not last near as long as better choices like polysulfides in a damp environment.
    Further, I would recommend a large backing plate under the stanchion base rather than just some fender washers. When someone falls against the lifelines in a squall, they might actually stay aboard.

    • Nikki said:

      We agree that silicone may not last as long and can be a big pain to clean up. Since posting this video, we’ve discovered a new product that we like far better for these applications–butyl tape ( Butyl tape is easy to clean up and will completely seal the holes into the future.

      Your suggestion of the backing plate is also a great one!

  5. There are a lot of practical uses for stainless steel tubing on a boat like stanchion poles, bimini frames, awnings, bow rails, solar panels, and …

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