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Damascus Steel Blades????

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  • Damascus Steel Blades????

    I just read that 440 c stainless correctly heat treated is vastly superior to the damascus forged blades?? Is this true. I had a hankering to make (or buy) a damascus moose skinner knife since i was told it held an edge better than ANY OTHER STEEL? Is this true? Thanx mike

  • #2
    First, no one can sell you real Damascus steel, what they're selling you is pattern welded steel. There are a few makers of Wootz and that's the steel behind Damascus, but Damascus is as much the process of using Wootz in a blade as it is the material. That being said some forms of pattern welded steel will outperform 440C but in the main most would not because it's optimized for a distinct pattern rather than for edge holding ability.

    Loads of steels that would outperform either - ATS-34, CPM-40, 154CM are all that are stainless or semi-stainless and would be better than 440C. In tool steels I think you could do very well with D2, A2, even O1 or W2. Lots of tool steels would have better edge retention and more toughness than 440C.

    There are some pattern welded stainless materials but I've never used one.

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    • #3
      "Damascus" is a pretty broad term, so it would depend on what kinds of steel the damascus is made of, the skill of the smith making it, and how it was heat-treated. You might want to post the question on the maker's forum at www.bladeforums.com

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      • #4
        Knife makers like hotrodders are caught up in a BS proliferation race. Utter nonsense, anecdotal, and take-it-to-the bank information is all mixed up and traded as Gospel with the more outrageous and ridiculous material somehow driving out the sound.

        First, never look in a knife magazine or knife ad without checking on the credentials behind the information presented. Next conduct your own research and construct a vocabulary from reputable resources. Finally, distance yourself from BS and the people who distribute it uncritically.

        There's good reason for this rigor. The better knife makers know their stuff. Many of the rest trade recipes for inferior goods.

        All that said "damascus" is a process for making steel and 440C is a general specification for a ferritic stainless steel with a high carbon content.

        Damascus steel can be very strong and durable and also very handsome when coinsidered as an artifact material. But it's also variable and each baatch may well require a slight difference in heat treatment to get optimum results.

        440C OTH is quite consistant but some samples should be checked to optimize edge holding.

        The forging and processing of steels has a profound effect on their effacacy as an end product. Most amateur knife makers scuplt their products from plate. A well executed salt bath heat treatment will produce the edge hardness and durability optimized for edge holding or edge durability depending on the end use of the article.

        Those that go a step further and forge their blanks have to cope with de-carburization, cracking, and other forms of metallurgical damage. The less sensitive the steel (ie plain carbon steels) produce fewer problems but at the expense of edge quality. Fine tool steels, HSS, and high carbon chromium bearing steels produce better knives but they are far more sensitive to process.

        If I was making a moose skinner as a moose skinner, I'd make it of oil or water hardening tool steel and not make it too hard. A skinning knife edge takes a terrible beating from the dirt in the animal's coat. You have to steel it often. It's also dropped, stepped on, used to split kindling etc. Thus the hardness for edge holding should be sacrificed for durability. It's hard to skin a moose with a busted knife. Hard and brittle in bad in this application. Tough but easily sharpened is better.

        If I wanted a beautiful moose skinner to stir up envy among my buddies, I'd make it of Damascus steel and invent a dozen plausible sounding lies extolling the stranght and durability of the item but I'd never take it hunting. I'd keep with the rest of the treasures.

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        • #5
          The more reputable engineering explanations I have seen for "damascus" steel and its reputation for holding an edge relate to the layering of high and low carbon steels.

          That layering allows a sharp blade to also be tough, and even to some degree self-sharpening. At least so goes the explanation.

          The "pattern" is NOT important to that, it is a byproduct of it. It can be manipulated in various ways to create a blade that has the desirable properties as well as the "look". But a good blade need not have the best possible pattern. It will have the pattern that does the job.

          There was a decent article a few years ago in either "Machine design" or "Design news" which went through the explanations. They had comments from an engineer who now does high end knives.

          And I don't mean expensive knives for Bubba and Jo-bob, I mean VERY high end knives for members of the House of Saud, Princes from Dubai, and other folks who can pay for anything, from anyone, at any price, and who CHOOSE to pay this guy.
          1601

          Keep eye on ball.
          Hashim Khan

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          • #6
            Wiki has a good write up on Damascus-

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus_steel


            I did a lot of reading on the subject years ago,but didn't purse it's manufacture since all I had were a couple of armstrong drophammers to work with.

            Anyways even if you do make up something in Damascus it won't work until you quench the blade in the blood of an Infedel
            I just need one more tool,just one!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by wierdscience
              Wiki has a good write up on Damascus-
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus_steel
              I love Wikipedia!

              "Pattern welding is the practice in sword and knife making of forming a blade of several metal pieces of differing composition that are forge-welded together and twisted and manipulated to form a pattern. Often incorrectly called Damascus steel (which is produced by a different process), blades forged in this manner often display bands of slightly different coloration along their entire length. These bands can be brought out for cosmetic purposes by proper polishing or acid etching. Originally, pattern welding was used to combine steels of different carbon contents (generally wrought iron and cast iron), providing the desired mix of hardness and toughness needed for highly demanding tasks such as cutting through armor. Although modern steelmaking processes negate the need to blend different steels, pattern welded steel is still used by custom knifemakers for the cosmetic effects it produces."
              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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              • #8
                Damascus blades were originally created and sought after for the duct-ability. You don't need a state of the art edge to gig someone or chop their head off. What you did need though was a blade that wouldn't shatter in a sword fight. That's the original reason for Damascus.

                Hundreds of years later the knife collecting craze gets started and knifemakers want to pander to this crowd. That's how the superiority of Damascus blades is perpetuated. It helped sell product from a handful of custom makers who knew how to make it.

                You want to make knives decide on whether you want to pursue it as a technical or artistic endeavor. I was in it for the art. I wouldn't own a stainless, 6M2, D2 or other such exotic blade. I don't mind oiling and sharpening (read as fondeling and caressing) them once in awhile. I would use O2 tool steel if I were you and just getting started. There's a lot of beauty in a bar (billet if you like!) of O2 if you know how to get it out.

                I made a bunch in D2. What a pain. The bark just ate my belts and you can't get as nice a polish on it as other steels. I also did a lot in 440C stainless as I knew a guy who got me some nice pieces where the stuff was made! It was also pretty tough to work in my opinion. I liked O2 the best for drop points and birders.

                Forrest hit it right on the head.
                Last edited by Your Old Dog; 04-12-2007, 07:22 AM.
                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Knife makers like hotrodders are caught up in a BS proliferation race. Utter nonsense, anecdotal, and take-it-to-the bank information is all mixed up and traded as Gospel with the more outrageous and ridiculous material somehow driving out the sound.
                  You want to see ridiculous? Try hanging out on a BBS where you get a bunch of young kids discussing the merits of the Katana. It's a known "fact" that a Katana can cut the barrel off a machine gun, chop large trees in half in a single blow and cut through armor plate. Oh, the reason that you can't do it with modern Katanas is that to be properly made they must be quenched from the heat treat by plunging in the body of a prisoner.
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                  • #10
                    http://www.ssdamascus.com/Products.html

                    try this

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by thistle
                      I have to wonder if this guys doing this on someone else's time as this is rather labor intensive for all the more he's charging.
                      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                      Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                      It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sure is pretty though!
                        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Evan
                          It's a known "fact" that a Katana can cut the barrel off a machine gun, chop large trees in half in a single blow and cut through armor plate.
                          It "has" to be true.............I saw it done in a movie once............LOL
                          RPease

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RPease
                            It "has" to be true.............I saw it done in a movie once............LOL
                            Either that or it's been reported in the news.................now that I think about, ain't much difference!
                            - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                            Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                            It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Reference mythbusters episodes on katana vs. machine gun barrel. They couldn't do it although all of the swords whacking things was really kind cool.

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