There are not a lot of swords around these days, and the original techniques for producing Damascus steel have been lost to the ages. Modern Damascus steel is typically created by a technique called billet welding. This is where a billet of steel is hammered out, folded over, then hammered together again which causes the steel to weld together. Hammered out again, folded, hammered together. Rinse and repeat.
Japanese forgers used to use a similar technique, throwing a layer of carbon over the steel before folding it. This creates layers of ferrite and cementite – soft and hard microlayers.
The result of whatever method is used, is steel with a distinctive organic wavy pattern across the surface.
Despite Damascus steel swords no longer being a household item (well in the household of a knight, or Samurai), you can still buy products that benefit from the tough, durable, yet razor-sharp edge that Damascus steel provides. These are kitchen knives, with the incredible distinctive surface that layers upon layers of folded, billet welded steel creates.
So you may be wondering where this is leading? Well, you remember the steak knife project I did recently, creating wooden handles on a set of four knives? (These kits are still available by the way). How would you like to have a kitchen knife made from Damascus steel for which you have created the handle?
Professional Woodworkers Supplies have Damascus steel kitchen knife blanks that you can handle with a distinctive timber of your choice. I do a great deal of cooking, and like having good knives. So having one made from Damascus steel is something I have wanted for a while, and even better as a shed project.
They make great gifts as well.
Creating a handle for this knife blank will be featured in an upcoming article (just as soon as I make it!)
This particular blank is a Zhen Nakiri blade, which is particularly suited to cutting vegetables. It has a blade length of 170mm, and a Rockwell C hardness of 60-62, and has 67 layers. Check out the range available here.