Damascus steel is a form of ancient steel. Its history connects with ancient Persian, Egyptian and Indian craftsmen who produced this steel for sword making. Later Japanese sword makers also adopted this technique for sword making. Today, the reason for demand of Damascus steel is that it is beautiful; it has variety of pattern-designs on the surface. Damascus steel is in fact just pattern welded steel, just weld together a few hundred layers of hard and soft steel and then etch in acid. The acid attacks the hard and soft steels at different rates resulting in a visible pattern on the steel. Today there are many methods to produce Damascus steel and there is a lot of variety of its patterns/designs but a few are available in the market.
Its maximum hardness is 52 HRC, which is good but not enough to compare it with the hardness of modern materials. But its beauty makes it precious, that’s why it is an expensive material, it is being use in Knife making from many years and a very few manufacturers produce Haircutting Scissors from this material which is very expensive.
There are some stories about Damascus steel that it has magical beauty and it is indestructible, when produced with fused diamond dust in it. In truth, Damascus is just steel. It has no magical properties and is not indestructible, nor is there any “diamond dust” in it, if you do put diamond in it; it would just dissolve into the steel as regular carbon, and would not impart any special properties.
The Damascus of legend was also known as Wootz or Bulat and was a very high carbon crucible steel. Bits of steel and iron and carbon are placed in a ceramic crucible and heated at very high temperatures until it all fuse together. The high carbon content (usually above 2% – most steels used have less than 1% carbon) forms a lot of carbides, which precipitate forming lines on the surface of the steel. It is these lines of carbides that create the “watering” effect that Damascus is so famous for.
There are no standard compositions for this material. Different manufacturers in past, produced this material according to their own plan with available resources. There is lot of research conducted on it producing different patterns in different thickness and in different shapes. Actually every new pattern has its own specific requirements for adding Carbon, Manganese and Chromium, similarly forging method and quantity of layer also has an impact on its hardness and stress test.
According to our research, we found these basic properties of Damascus steel, approximately similar in every producer’s work in different techniques.
Carbon Volume: 0.50% to 6% (According to Ancient specimen) – Normally 2%
Highest Hardness achieved: 45 to 52 HRC
Best tempering temperature: It depends on the composition of both hard and soft steels.
Due to its high carbon content, it is highly corrosive material and easily gets rusted if not treated properly during production for longer life of parts.
The patterns that can be developed in the Damascus steel are endless, but a few categories are available in the market.
See our collection of Damascus knives and daggers