If you are doing research on the before you buy a Damascus knife we hope that the information below will help you with your purchase.
Damascus steel is both a material and a process where different types of steel are combined into a beautiful, hardened blade. It is also called Wootz steel, and takes its name from the Syrian city of Damascus, through which Wootz steel was traded to the western world. Damascus steel is made by forge welding two different types of steel, usually one high carbon and one low carbon.
This steel is layered together to form flat plates, heated, folded and hammered flat to get more layers over and over again. Sometimes forging involves incorporating a drilling technique, where holes of different depths are drilled into the steel during the process, creating the effect of a raindrop on the blade.
The resulting steel is dipped in acid to reveal the fine layers created during forging that give Damascus its unique look. Many knife makers prefer to use Damascus steels because of the aesthetics it posses and the fact that your knife’s blade edge will not wear or dull as quickly as ordinary Stainless Steel knives do.
Advantages of Damascus steel The advantages of Damascus steel are based on two main factors:
- Longer lasting edge
- Nice to look at
As mentioned above, Damascus steel is typically forged from the layering of two different steels, a low-carbon steel and a high-carbon steel. The reason this is beneficial is that either alone wouldn't make a great blade. High carbon steel is hard and can hold a very fine edge, but it is also brittle and easy to chip and break. Low carbon steel is soft, does not last as long, but has a lot more flexibility and does not splinter as easily.
By layering these two types of steel, the properties of both are brought together. The result is steel that is hard enough and flexible enough to keep a sharp blade edge without chipping.
Sounds great doesn't it? But there is one very important factor to look out for when purchasing a Damascus knife. A Damascus knife is only as good as the steel it was forged from. If two inferior steels are used, the resulting blade will also be of poor quality.
What are the Damascus steel manufacturing processes? The manufacture of Damascus steel is a very labor-intensive and lengthy process that requires a lot of experience and knowledge in the forging trade. In manufacturing technology, the high quality of the product is ensured by the optimal alternation of layers with different parameters.
Low-carbon steels between layers with a high carbon content are used as the softening substrate. This combination gives Damascus steel the special sharpness and hardness it offers.
1. Prepare the billet The blacksmith stacks layers of steel of equal size, alternating low-carbon and high-carbon steel. They create a billet (using different types of steel, depending on the type of blade being forged).
2. Welding The steel billet is heated until the right temperature for the different types of steel is reached (a gas-fired furnace allows even and constant heating in each section of the steel): it is forged. The billet is hot hammered so that the steel layers in the billet form only one homogeneous block.
3. Draw and straight After welding, the billet is heated and then flattened so that it can be pulled (to obtain a steel rod with a homogeneous cross-section, regular straightening on the anvil when it is hot). Now the billet is twice as long as it will be cut. The two sections are folded over each other. Since these two sections are different from each other, the previous step is repeated: welding the two sections, then pulling the billet, which becomes homogeneous again.
This process of folding, welding and drawing is carried out as often as necessary in order to obtain the desired number of layers in the blade (if a blade with 320 layers is desired from a first billet with five layers, it is necessary to make six cuts / Carry out welds and drawings one after the other). In order to obtain the required thickness and shape, this Damascus steel billet is hot-hammered and passed through the rolling mill.
The blacksmith can obtain between four and eight individual blades from a piece of Damascus steel made in this way.
4. Shape and finish: - Precise shaping of the blade - Model the heel exactly depending on the size - Blade honing - Polishing
All of these steps are done by hand on sanding belts. Heat treatment (with oil quenching) The etching, to create the contrast between the different steels, is done after the blade has been polished.
The blade is immersed in an acid bath and then in a bath that neutralizes the acid effect.
Characteristics of Damascus steel:
- Unique in that the designs on the steel layers are never identical
- The knife has a very special charm because it is made entirely by hand
- Carbon steel: very good cutting edge
- Easy to care for: Wipe the blade with every use. Please never put your Damascus knife in a dishwasher
Are knives made of Damascus steel worthwhile? Absolutely, Damascus steel knives are worth the extra cost. Not only do they look great, but you also get extremely sharp knives with a unique look.
However, high-end Damascus steel knives come at a higher price. But you also get first-class quality from a knife. So if you really want a high quality Damascus steel knife, you have to spend a bit more.
Buyer beware, if the knife seems too cheap to be a Damascus knife it is probably a stainless steel knife that has had Damascus patterns lasered onto it.
When buying Damascus knives online it can be very hard to tell from the images. Price is usually the best indicator. If the knives are sold in a set you can looked at the pattern on each blade in the set. If the pattern is almost exactly the same then that is another good indicator that what you are looking at is not a true Damascus knife.
Also pay attention to the description of the knife. If it says ”Damascus Style” or “Damascus look” then it is definitely a fake and not a true Damascus knife.
Damascus steel knives are some of the most beautiful knives on the market. They have a rich historical value as Damascus steel is one of the oldest and most traditional types of steel. Unfortunately the forging processes for the old Damascus steel has been lost, but the resurgence of modern Damascus steel offers great characteristics for the making of modern knives.