How To Make Damascus Steel

Damascus Steel is as mysterious as the place to where it came from…well, from the place we have been believing where it came from.

Its history dates back to as late as 1750 where Crusaders at that time were stunned with its ability to swipe through their own swords. From that time on, many of sword smiths tried to imitate its prowess. However, Ancient Damascus Steel is hard to replicate because many believed that the secret to making one was already lost at the era when it was tried to be replicated.

What we are trying to replicate now isn’t the one we have already lost in late 1750s but a modern version of it. In fact, modern day Damascus Steel is an article of trade especially for sword enthusiasts not only because it is indeed one of the best steel there is, but also it is naturally refined and hardcore.

Moreover, the mystery that surrounds it makes it an appealing piece of art for most of us who already own it.

Did you know that the art of making Damascus steel requires discipline, techniques and processes that were studied, perfected and transcended from generations to generations? It’s interesting history along with the complexity of its process sand ingenuity make it an intriguing topic for steel production and use, while the science behind its composition is a good subject for various studies.

What You Will Need

Damascus steel, as already mentioned, is a mysterious piece of art. That probably is the reason why many people, including me, are so eager to get it perfectly if not close to perfection.

Regardless if you are new to making Damascus steel or someone who just wants to find other ways to perform different practices of making one, creating Damascus steel needs learning everything you can and incorporate those practices that you think is best for you. After all, no one was born with the skill of making Damascus steel.

Make Damascus Knife

So, are you ready to start things off? Here are the things you will need:

  • Basically, you only need two pieces of steel. These steels – the 1084 and the 15n20 – are contrast to each other when imprinted. 1084 is the darker of the two and best contrasts the 15n20. They are both similar when it comes to composition and are compliments even during the heating process.
  • Liquid Nitrogen
  • Grit Finish
  • 50-50 solution of distilled water and ferric chloride
  • Tri-sodium phosphate
  • Power hammer
  • Mcdonald drilling mill
  • Basic protective gears such as gloves, jacket and glasses

How To Make Damascus Steel

One of the many reasons why people love having Damascus steel is the uniqueness of its design. It looks like it’s been carved intentionally so that it’ll create a significant pattern, but actually it’s a natural phenomenon that happens when two or more different types of metals are forged together.

Modern Damascus steel has come a long way. Different steel types and metals were experimented in so to recreate a pattern in the past or to create another one.

Perfect Damascus Steel

Here’s your basic guide to create that well patterned Damascus steel. Remember though, that the output of your Damascus steel, meaning its thickness, length and width depends on how you planned it out to be:

  • 1. Prepare your billet. In this case, you will be using two metals to form billets. Billets are formed, layered and stretched out so that it’ll create a pattern. The more metals you use, the more versatile your steel will be.
  • 2. Draw, cut, fold, weld and repeat. Out of your billet, draw it twice your desired length. When hitting your billet make sure that you strike it straight down rather than pushing it out. During this entire process, you will have to heat the billet many times.

    Strike out your billet on its middle part but leave a little bit of it to use it to your succeeding weld. Turn the billet side by side and pound it so that its center will swell.

    Clean the billet and then heat it again. Fold it back again. Apply borax, heat and then weld. If you wish to have more layers, then you’ll have to repeat this stage many times. Not only that, it’ll also require you really good skill to carve out a good Damascus steel design.
  • 3. Heat it. Damascus steel requires heating treatment temperature between 1500 F and 2,000 F and will depend on different factors such as its banding. Preset your furnace to the required temperature and place the metal to the furnace.

    After heating, let it cool it for 10 minutes. Douse the steel in oil and then to the liquid nitrogen for about an hour. Subdue the steel for about an hour at 350F. Do it twice.
  • 4. Put the finishing touches. Put grit finish to the steel and then etch it to the diluted solution of distilled water and ferric chloride (50/50). Leave it in place for about ten minutes.

    Remove the steel from the solution and rinse it under running water. Repeat the cycle every five minutes until you get your desired output. Once achieved, you may now submerge the Damascus steel in tri-sodium phosphate to finish it off.

Making Damascus Steel - Video Guide by Paul Krzysz

Many knives, blades and steel enthusiasts fascinate about Damascus steel because of its uniqueness and great performance. The patterns that are seemed to be carved out are uniquely created that no two Damascus steels were seen alike. More than its use, it truly is a great piece and an expression of art.

When it comes to performance, you can be assured that this piece is more than just a pretty face. Its greatness in performance makes researchers and scientist delve into years of study.

Unlike other steel-made products, Damascus steel are of great value and quite special given its quite intriguing history and of course, the mystery behind the lost of its original recipe. Nevertheless, this piece of metal craft has been here for thousands of years and it shows no signs of stopping. In fact, it continues to evolve providing much better and better versions of its own self.

Luis Obrien
 

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