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Damascus

Damascus steel was a type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking. Damascus steel was created from wootz steel, a steel developed in India around 300 BC, which was further refined by Middle Eastern swordsmiths. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be not only tough and resistant to shattering, but capable of being honed to a sharp and resilient edge. The original method of producing Damascus steel is not known. Because of differences in raw materials and manufacturing techniques, modern attempts to duplicate the metal have not been entirely successful. Despite this, several individuals in modern times have claimed that they have rediscovered the methods in which the original Damascus steel was produced. The reputation and history of Damascus steel has given rise to many legends, such as the ability to cut through a rifle barrel or to cut a hair falling across the blade, but no evidence exists to support such claims.

We, at Mackrill Custom Knives, also use Damascus steel, which is made for us by top forgers and metalsmiths. There are many different techniques that bladesmiths and metalsmiths use to make Damascus knife blades. The following gives a basic idea on the process; Start with five pieces of steel, two high carbon pieces of steel and three medium carbon pieces of steel. Clean the impurities from the pieces of steel, then sandwich the two high carbon pieces between the medium carbon pieces. Arc weld them together at the end. The weld material must be removed after the first forge weld.



The billets are placed in a forge and brought to a cherry red color. They are then removed and covered with borax. The pieces are then hammered together with a hammer on an anvil. The billet is heated several times during this process.The billet is cut in the middle, leaving a little material to keep it together until it is welded again. The billet is then turned on its side and hammered enough to swell the center of the billet. The billet is then cleaned and reheated; it is then folded back on itself.

Repeat the process 5, 6, or 7 times in order to obtain 150, 300 or 600 layers respectively. The more layers there are, the more skill required for making an exotic piece of steel.


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