Date Published: 2015-04-23
History of Damascus Steel
The production of Damascus steel can be traced thousands of years ago to the country of India. To this day, no one knows the exact elements and heat components that ancient swordsmiths used to produce Damascus steel; although, we do know the steel was originally made from wootz steel. Wootz steel was a phenomenal grade of iron ore steel made in India. The weapons and other items made with the steel became popular between 200-400 A.D. and were often bartering items in the city of Damascus.
The steel stands apart from other steel because of its trademark wavy surface pattern that many people describe as being reminiscent of flowing water. The "flowing water" pattern is created when the sword smiths begin to hammer and weld strips of steel and iron together which is followed by heating and forging repeatedly.
How Damascus Steel is Made
Some sword and knife manufacturers simply etch the blade to produce a light and dark pattern but that isn't really Damascus steel, because the pattern can be worn away. What is known as modern "authentic" Damascus is created through a process known as pattern-welded Damascus. A sword smith begins the process by choosing at least two different types of metal that harden and temper similarly. He then layers the various types of metal into one stack; this is called a billet. The billet is then placed into a hot forge and this causes the metal to become malleable. The sword smith then places the billet under the hammer which assists in the lengthening process of the metal. The steel is folded and this process is repeated several times. The various layers that Damascus steel is famous for is created through this folding process. The pattern of the blade will depend on how the sword smith works the billet. Arguably, the most important part of creating Damascus steel is the heat treatment. In order to create a durable blade that will meet the performance standards of sword enthusiasts, proper heat treatment is a must!
Forged layers of steel being hammered
Forged layers of steel being hammered.