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Archived Boards (Read-Only) => 13Skills.com => Topic started by: caverdude on March 27, 2013, 10:47:09 AM

Title: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: caverdude on March 27, 2013, 10:47:09 AM
I'm hearing some conflicting information about the Damascus process. My dad swears he can't believe that Damascus swords were not "folded" 300 times. Another friend says its 300 layers which is around 10 folds depending on how its folded. Each fold creates welds which creates layers.

This friend of mine that says its 10 or so folds says he has made it before and he is about to receive a hammer mill he purchased for $500 to aid in making it. He will make me a knife shaped just like the M14 Bayonet I hope, I like that design.

Binary is 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024    And if you folded in half each time thats the number of layers you would get after each fold. Now it could be folded 3 ways on some folds for example fold 1/3 over on one end then 1/3 on the other and have two welds and 6 layers. So one could get very close to a even 300 layers if they do it right.

My dad says they add carbon as they fold and hammer. My friend who's buying the hammer mill says they absolutely do not add carbon. He says even in the old days they carbonized first then made the Damascus from a piece of carbon steel. Though he says the carbonization process in the old days was more difficult and after the metal was in a solid state.

The knife smithing friend of mine says in the old days you had a master and some apprentices hammering at one time on each fold and weld. So you might have up to 4 people hammering at once. Today with a Hammer mill only one person is needed. Yet even today there is no fully automated process for making this kind of steel. Anyone have anything to add?

I'm still researching this myself to see what to believe.
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: padre35 on March 28, 2013, 07:01:00 PM

That is true, Damascus is not folded over and over again the way we think a samurai sword being done, it is folded a bit but the color comes from the different materials that make up the blade not the folds themselves.
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: The Professor on March 28, 2013, 09:12:01 PM
"Damascus" is still a mystery. . .Bill Moran, legendary knifemaker, coined the term for his "pattern-welded" knives back in the 70's as a marketing gimmick, and it stuck.

Since then, any patterned mix of steels has been erroneously called "Damascus steel." 

Some pattern-welded blades are, indeed, folded layers of varying steels.  Others are simply billets of different steels welded together.  There is no litmus test other than appearance.

And, FWIW, generally the steels don't have the "damascened" appearance straight from the forge.  That's usually enhanced in an acid bath which etches the steels differently.

Hope it helps.

The Professor
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: joeinwv on March 28, 2013, 09:23:01 PM
You can get Pakistani damascus billets for about $25. These are usually bars of metal stacked together, tack welded, then heated and hammered into a bar. If you want more layers, you cut that bar, stack again and repeat.

The Prof is correct, an acid etch helps bring out the patterns.

Most steel has less than 1% carbon.
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: thatmckenzie on August 08, 2013, 08:09:45 AM
They go through the process in this documentary, from smelting all the way through inlaying letters into a finished blade.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2284159044/
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: The Professor on August 08, 2013, 06:59:29 PM
They go through the process in this documentary, from smelting all the way through inlaying letters into a finished blade.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2284159044/

Correction: They go through A process.

There are more than one.

The Professor
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: DheereCrossing on September 19, 2013, 04:59:07 PM
Plus wouldn't 'folding' create double layers at the interior of the fold?  All the videos I've watched so far follow the cutting and stacking methods.
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: caverdude on September 20, 2013, 11:34:20 PM
Something I just thought about. What would be the difference in hammering out the damascus steel vs getting the layers hot then running through a roller mill? Maybe several times adjusting the mill thickness each time. Then folding and doing it again.. Or cut it in two put one on top of the other, heat and again threw the mill.
Title: Re: knife blade making and domascus steel, layers, folds, welds
Post by: DheereCrossing on October 12, 2013, 10:29:14 PM
Something I just thought about. What would be the difference in hammering out the damascus steel vs getting the layers hot then running through a roller mill? Maybe several times adjusting the mill thickness each time. Then folding and doing it again.. Or cut it in two put one on top of the other, heat and again threw the mill.

That's pretty much the process as I've seen it done.  A good youtube series is the Journey to Master five part video -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fp8b0qeNOc (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fp8b0qeNOc).  Quite a workshop and it shows the guy's master bladesmith test as well.