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Lyle Brunckhorst

Bronk's Knifeworks

@

Country Village

23706 7th Ave. SE

Suite B

Bothell, WA 98021

425 402-3484

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Damascus knives

Pattern welded steel

and its properties

40 ton press forging damascus blades for the creation of Damascus knives

Making Damascus knives is a very old art form that has more than one origin and can be traced back to nearly the age of steel itself. The India made blades, first seen in Damascus Syria, gave us the name. But it was the many layered Japanese swords and of course those Viking daggers with the composite blades with the chevron twists etc that gave us the method most used today to make Damascus knives.

The art very nearly became lost to obscurity, but due to the recent interest in knife making these past short 30 years, it has come a very long way since those early days. It's been a real modern day renaissance if you will.

This Damascus knife is called Galactic Collision Click on image

Making the Damascus bar stock and in turn making Damascus knives is one of those chores that keeps me inspired. Not only can you get caught up in the different designs possible, the thought of making Damascus blades that truly stands out in appearance and performs as well as any other blade or better is an ever on going quest. It's more than just making a great art knife, it's taking knife making to an art form. You can join us here at Country Village during one of our seminars and learn first hand how to make pattern welded steel.

First off, the components in the Damascus blades need to be compatible with each other or in other words all heat treat the same. Second, the components need to be quality steel that will attain a good working hardness and be resilient. Third, the components should etch with good contrast if you expect the Damascus knife to look like a Damascus knife.

The components, 1084 and 15N20 are almost standard with most smiths these days with good reason. On their own, each steel would make a good choice for blades and the contrast between the two is excellent.

The 1084, although a simple steel, has just the right amount of carbon to make a superior blade and the addition of manganese serves to help the hardening process along. It also serves to make it etch quite dark with ferric chloride.

The 15N20 has nearly as much carbon and has about 2,5% nickel content added to make the steel very tough. The second benefit of nickel is that it withstands the etch very well for a good contrast with its darker counterpart.

Another benefit of these steels is that they can be differentially hardened for a tough blade, such as a Damascus Bowie, sword or Damascus fighter, that can meet battle conditions and still retain a good edge.

One more very good point about these two steels is that the carbon is at the eutectoid point and that gives you plenty of carbon to make a fine blade and not enough to contribute to problems that can be encountered with higher carbon steels such as grain boundary embrittlement.

These steels also lend themselves very well to natural bluing and look very nice as bolsters on Damascus folders or other art knives.

I occasionally use other steels for making Damascus blades such as cable but 1084 and 15N20 are proven winners. Until I find a better pair of steels they will have a place in my shop.

Making Damascus is very addictive and therefore I find myself making it quite often when the Sunday bunch is here. It's a lot like a mini hammer in every weekend. The upside of this is I have more Damascus in my pile than I can use and when I can find the time to open up some of these bars, I will be offering it for sale on the Shopping Cart.

Historical Background of Damascus steel by Dr. John Verhoven