Why Damascus? It is beautiful, has
integrity, ultimate cutting edge, no two the same, tough, unique, hard to
make right, indestructible, and a joy to own.
blade steel is 224 layers of 0-1 tool steel, S-2 shock steel (jackhammer
bit steel) and mild steel.The
blade is made by starting with two 3/8” layers of S-2 steel, one
3/8”layer of O-1 steel and 4 layers of 1/8” mild steel.They are stacked with the mild steel on
the outsides and between the layers of O-1 and S-2. The width is an inch
and is about 3 inches long.
handle is arc welded on one end to hold the piece when hammering.The whole thing is brought to a forge welding
heat in the forge and fused together under the hammer.It is then drawn out to about twice the
original length, cut almost in half, brushed and folded over with the
addition of welding flux (anhydrous borax) and fused again. This process
is continued until 224 layers are formed.
finished blank is drawn out to a tapered shape about 1/2” thick. The
surface is textured by grinding grooves and possibly drilling shallow
holes on the flat surfaces.During
the high heat required for forge welding, carbon migration between the
different steels is stopped by the high silicon content in the S-2
steel.In this way the
individuality of each steel is maintained.
ON BOTH SIDES CREATE A LADDER PATTERN
GROOVES CAUSE THE STEEL TO BE SHIFTED SIDE TO SIDE SO MORE LAYERS
CROSS THE CUTTING EDGE.
the bar is hammered to almost finished blade thickness, the grooves and
shallow holes are lifted to the surface.After grinding to outline shape and final finishing, the tapered
edge of the blade is hammer packed along the cutting edge to reduce the
grain size of the different steels.
good blade can also be made by twisting the finished billet after it is
forged round. When this is hammered out flat the twist pattern, known as
Maiden Hair, is evident. It is next to the ladder pattern for increasing
the number of layers crossing the cutting edge.
LADDER PATTERNTWISTED PATTERN
WHITE AREAS PATTERNED WITH
beautiful pattern is what I call “Eagle Wing Damascus”. Here I try to force the
pattern to look like wing feathers. This is accomplished by grinding
diagonal lines and inputting several bullseyes.
grinding the sides and handle section, it is polished.After the initial polishing it is
hardened at the forge, repolished, tempered and polished again.Next it is acid etched in hydrochloric
acid.The acid eats away at the
different steels at a different rate so that a one of a kind pattern is
visible on the blade. After rinsing, the blade is coated with a brass
black solution (like gun bluing) then polished with a worn 600 grit
sandpaper.This highlights the
raised portions of the steel pattern and leaves the recessed layers dark
so that a beautiful contrast is achieved.
mild steel tests out at a Rockwell hardness on the C scale of 45.The S-2 tests at 59 and the O-1 between
62 and 64.The result is three
steels with different hardness crossing the cutting edge many times. The
grooving of the steel maximizes the number of times the layers cross the
cutting edge.The result is a
miniature saw edge with different steels of different hardness that wear
away at different rates and in effect self-sharpens for a period of
time.As the mild steel wears away
first the O-1 and S-2 steel is left behind for maximum cutting. It stays
sharp and also sharpens easily with a very light pressure on a ceramic
sharpening rod.Use a quality
ceramic such as Coors ceramic distributed by Spyderco knives.
type of laminated blade cannot break easily.The many layers do not allow a crack to
propagate through the blade. Testing has shown on one my blades bent to
90 degrees and hammered flat on an anvil, cold,
did not show any sign of stress or breakage. This was a combination of
O-1 tool steel and mild steel The blade had to be bent to almost 180
degrees before the outer layers crack. Even then the blade did not break.
Because of this a Damascus blade is a real survival
knife and will out perform any single steel knife. My newer blades may be
more less tolerant since I have incorporated lots
of S-2 jack hammer bit steel in the layers.
steel is beautiful and has a superior cutting blade if forged properly
from the right combination of steels. Since 1977 I have been
experimenting with different steel combinations and have chosen the
steels I use because the blade is tough, pretty and durable. The S-2 is
used because it stops carbon migration and by itself as a blade can cut
any other blade ( i.e. buck) in half without any sign of chips or edge
loss.This was demonstrated at a
workshop with 45 smiths in attendance where one of my S-2 blades was
placed at right angles to a buck knife held in a vise. It was hammered on
the back, edge to edge, through the buck knife with no sign of stress on
the S-2except a shiny spot where
the buck blade passed by the sides of the S-2 blade.The high silicon and carbon content of
the S-2 makes it a very durable shock resistant steel. The addition of
the O-1 (a common knife steel) adds hardness to the blade.The mild steel layers add toughness to
is a lot of “junk” Damascus on the market today.Just because a blade is laminated and
called Damascus does not mean it is a
quality blade.Damascus from India
and Pakistan, as well as, many of the blades made in America are not superior steel.
They only look nice but often times are not what they could be.
differential hardening of the blade leaves only the lower
thirds of the blade in a hardened state.The back of the blade is spring hard and the tang is relatively
soft. The blade can rust so keep it lightly oiled, or use Vaseline in
inclement weather. Damascus is easily cleaned by using
a worn 600 grit sandpaper lengthwise on the blade. The raised portions
are polished quickly. It is easier to maintain than any other blade
following tells how I feel about each Damascus knife.
knife exists as a thing of beauty, functionality and integrity. It exists
as its own being, different from anything else on the Earth.It has a soul of its own molded into it
by the maker.Its medicine
contains the heat and force of the forge fire and the power, skill and
creativity of the maker that forged a part of himself into the blade.
This knife will outlive men and should be handed down
and admired by those worthy of such a creation.When holding and viewing this knife it
will actually speak to you by a warmth and radiance it emanates.I can feel its power when I hold it and
can recall the sweat, heat and the sound of the hammer ringing on the
It is one of my creations I have sent out into the
world to do what it may to