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What is damascus steel?

Question to Knivesandtools:

More and more knives are made from damascus steel. But what is damascus steel and does it have added value?

Answer of Knivesandtools:

Damasteel is also called damast, damascus steel or simply folded steel. Very briefly: for damascus steel a large number of different types of steel are forged on top of each other. Afterwards the steel is modified exposing those layers.

The history of damascus steel

In the past a piece of rough steel was forged into a longer piece. This was folded and forged together again. By repeating this process multiple times one ended up with a piece of steel that was comprised of hundreds, sometimes even thousands of layers. To create damascus steel the steel is heated in a fire. By heating it like this the steel would absorb the carbon from the coals. By repeatedly folding it the carbon was spread out all over the steel. The carbon hardens the steel and leaves behind a finer grain structure. As such the steel can be sharpened even finer. The knives and swords that were made from this type of steel were less prone to break or fold.

The damascus steel was folded so many times because the steel needed to be hardened and refined. This also removed any imperfections. The fact that the steel absorbed the carbon and became even better was accidentally discovered during the process.

Damascus steel today

Today the process used in the past is no longer necessary to produce top-quality steel. The alloys coming from the steel factories today are a lot better than the old-fashioned damascus steel from the past. It is said that the original way of forging damascus steel in the 19th century was lost, but that is not true. Producing damascus steel, however, did become an art form. Most often two or more different types of steel are used. Types of steel with a different carbon content, for instance.

The damascus steel is comprised of complex shapes. You can tell when you look at the pictures of the knives on this page. When a damascus steel blade is finished it is often chemically or mechanically processed. As such the layers become even more visible. Afterwards the blade is held in a container of chemicals.

For industrially-produced damascus steel a 'normal' top-quality type of steel such as VG10 or 3G is often forged in between two layers of factory-made damascus steel. At that point the damascus steel merely has an ornamental function because the steel that forms the cutting edge is comprised of one layer of monosteel.

Origin of 'damast'

When you hear the word 'damascus steel' you might think of the Syrian city of Damascus. This makes sense because the names are very similar. That this type of steel was named after the city is the most accepted theory. Damast is also a weaving technique that was used on silk fabrics. These fabrics came from Damascus and were, like the damascus steel, enhanced with unique patterns.

Also, the term 'damas' in Arabic means 'watered'. When you look at a damascus steel blade you see that it has flowing and water-like patterns. This is also where the name might have come from. As such we cannot say for sure where the name came from.

Industrial damast

In addition to the very valuable damascus steel that is produced on a smaller scale, mostly by very skilled 'artists', there is also industrially-produced damascus. This is the damascus steel that is often used for kitchen knives and is still affordable. Kitchen knives made from 'real' damascus steel are pricy.

Is damascus steel better than normal steel?

Despite the fact that damascus steel is much more expensive than normal steel, this is mostly the result of the process that is used to end up with this type of steel. Many people believe that damascus steel is better, but that is actually never really the case. It is mostly about appearance, considering the fact that each knife is unique thanks to the pattern of the damascus steel.

Damasteel or Damascus Steel?

Is damasteel the same as damascus steel? Simply put: no. Damasteel is a manufacturer of damascus steel. It is the only commercial manufacturer of damasteel, who uses two types of powder steel to produce damasteel. The result is a combination of the best performances with stunning looks. Damasteel is often confused with damascus steel, but it is really different.

Supply of Damascus knives at Knivesandtools

At Knivesandtools we sell different knives that are made from damascus steel. These are not only kitchen knives but also pocket knives. Knives made from damascus steel radiate style, quality and taste. Many pocket knives are limited editions or sprint runs and, as such, very collectable. Words cannot describe how beautiful the knives in our collection are. That is why you can check out all damascus steel pocket knives here and all damascus steel kitchen knives here!

Benchmade Foray with Damascus steel