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Damascus steel blades

Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:38 pm

Do Damascus steel blades have any advantages/disadvantages over conventional blades made with the same steel? Or is it mainly just for looks? Thanks.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:06 pm

This totally depends on what, exactly, we're talking about.

Most "Damascus" knives you see advertised are in fact only clad in layered steel (what they call Damascus steel). Those knives that are clad in Damascus steel are no better or worse performance wise than if the knife was clad in a mono steel. It would just be for pure aesthetics.

A knife that is truly layered steel (Damascus) at the cutting edge will have different performance than a knife made with a single steel. The layered steels are different and this is done so that the pattern can be showed off. Devin Thomas's Damascus is a prime example. The pattern you see in the blade is caused by acid etching the blade/steel. One steel reacts to the etching one way and the other reacts a different way and thus you can see the pattern caused by Devin's work. So the edge is made up of two (or more) steels and each has it's own characteristics. The edge is essentially a combination of the characteristics of both steels. The advantages/disadvantages of a Damascus steel edge could/will be discussed for an eternity. :)

BTW, there are very few kitchen knives made today that are Damascus at the cutting edge. You'd have to find a custom knife maker most likely. Almost everything Japanese made that you can find advertised as Damascus is Damascus clad with a mono steel core. There are a number of makers in the US making Damascus blades though....Devin, Burke, Ealy, Fowler, Rodrigue...even me....but I have to buy my Damascus from Devin. Stupid power hammer and forge won't fit in my garage. :o

Re: Damascus steel blades

Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:11 pm

If done properly, a modern damascus blade made from quality materials will be equal to the sum of its component steels, no more. With stainless damascus like the typical AEB-L/304 mix, you have to make sure not to use too much 304 as it doesn't really harden. As for standard carbon damscus, as long as you stay away from stuff like pure nickel down at the cutting edge, it will perform like comparable mono steel assuming that it has been heat treated properly. Damascus is all about looking pretty.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:13 pm

One advantage that carbon damascus might have is a tad more corrosion resistance because it does have a layer of oxides on the non,nickel bearing steel.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:13 am

A good question. Thank you for posting it.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:03 am

Thanks for the responses. I should have more specific i.e. advantages/disadvantages in performance, sharpening and edge retention. I think you've answered my question though.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:40 pm

Adam is right as usual that almost all of the damascus knives made in Japan are clad with damascus. Nothing wrong with that but it's not the same stuff as what Devin or Haas makes.

Re: Damascus steel blades

Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:52 am

I agree mostly. A full Damascus blade like Pierre or Randy is different from the cladding.

The cladding has some possible benefits. One is that it allows a thinner piece of harder core steel (thin layer of steel vs a thicker layer of steel). Along with that, the core steel can be harder for better edge retention and the softer cladding is supposed to help absorb shock better so the core doesn't crack. Think of a knife with all AOS steel (I haven't seen on yet!) and no cladding vs a clad AOS blade. Less AOS material is used in the middle and theoretically, less cost with the clad blade. Also, when sharpening, it's a thinner piece of core steel to sharpen; the cladding is easier to wear thru. The last benefit is from the steel being used. A carbon core/SS outer clad blade will be easier to take care of patina/rusting wise versus a full carbon blade. So you get the ease of sharpening and wicked edge of the carbon core, and the stainless side panels for easier cleaning/maintenance. With the newer stainless steels, those benefits aren't as important.
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