Close-up of a modern pattern welded damascus sheath knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Damascus Steel, Stag handled Bowie by TC Blades Removed from the following pages: Damascus steel –OrphanBot (talk) 08:26, 20 April 2008 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Damascus steel. You’ve probably heard of it as some sort of super-metal; blades made from it can cut through a bar of Iron and a hair falling onto the edge would be sliced in half. Though that is not exactly true, Damascus steel is a very good quality steel.
Truth be told, no one really knows exactly how damascus steel was made, though today we know of a method called billet welding which may very well be how Damascus steel was made hundreds of years ago.
Billet welding is when two types of steel, one high-carbon and one low-carbon are forged welded (a fancy term for saying “pounded together”) together until it is a two layered block of steel; one side high-carbon and the other low. This block is hammered flat and folded in half, and then hammered into a single block. This block now has four layers. It is folded in half again, and hammered into a block, which now has eight layers. This process is repeated over and over until there are around 300 layers; every time the block is folded in half, it doubles the amount of layers. Once it has enough layers, it is forged like ordinary steel into a blade or whatever object is desired.
The interchanging hard and soft steels create a superior blade; the soft steel keeps the blade from snapping and the hard keeps a good strong edge; providing a superior blade that was extremely popular from the time of the byzantine empire until the 1700’s when steel smelted through new smelters became superior to Damascus steel, and thus replaced it. Pattern-welded steel is still of supreme quality, and many bladesmiths still use it in their blades.