Damascus Steel Knives

Damascus Steel Knives and Blades

The popularity of Damascus steel knives has increased dramatically in recent years. Damascus steel is attributed with the highest quality, stability, and extraordinary sharpness. There are many knife lovers out there so it is not a surprise that you can find Damascus knives in many modern households.

A sharp and well crafted Damascus will change the way you use your knives and the way you perceive food preparation and cooking. If you become an enthusiast, you will learn to properly take care of your knife, sharpen it, and wield it like a pro chef.

‘Damascus steel knife’ is a common name for a multi-layered laminated steel knife. Damascus steel knives are made from different types of steel which is fused and hammered together during the forging process.

Such knives can be made from a single laminated steel fused billet or from two such billets forming the outer layers of the hardened steel blade core.

Different types of stainless steel billets are most commonly used for the surrounding blade layers, and the blade core is usually made of harder carbon steel such as VG-10, AUS-10 or 10Cr15CoMoV. At the end of the production process, the Damascus pattern is made to stand out by acid etching.

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Diagram of steel layers in a Damascus blade

How Many Folds are in Damascus Steel Blades?

Damascus steel blades can have any number of layers, ranging from 2 up to 2096 or even more. The number of layers depends on how many times the steel billet was folded during the forging process.

A Damascus knife can be made from a single billet (Damascus steel blank) or from two side billets and a hardened steel core, like a sandwich.

Knives with hardened core are commonly made from 33 or 36 layers of Damascus steel on each side. Such blades are referred to as 67 or 73-layered Damascus knives respectively.

The outer layers add additional protection because the core of the blade is wrapped by many layers of steel, like layers in an onion. When compared to an high carbon steel knife, even if the same material is used, the Damascus blade tends to have the same hardness but is still more flexible and resistant to breaking.

Is Damascus Steel Good for Knives?

What we nowadays call ‘Damascus steel’ is not some particular type of steel, but the name refers to the technology of production of the laminated steel blades of knives – which are known by the common name as ‘Damascus knives.’

With knives, everything depends on a few important factors:

  • types of steel being used,
  • forging and hardening process of the blade,
  • handle materials and design,
  • overall compactness and quality.

That being said, Damascus is no exemption. However, since laminated knives require a more elaborate and costly production process, usually there is more effort put into making such knives.

Are Damascus Knives Better than Ordinary Knives?

If you compare an ordinary stamped or forged knife to a well-made Damascus, usually the latter tends to have better properties and qualities.

  • Ordinary stainless steel knife is rust-proof and easy for maintenance, however the blade is soft, it can never be razor-sharp and needs to be re-sharpened quite often.

  • A high carbon steel knife on the other hand can be really sharp and holds an edge for a long time, however it needs delicate care and is prone to breaking and cracking.

  • A Damascus knife combines the two desirable things – easy maintenance and long-lasting sharpness:
    • it has blade properties of stainless steel (resistance to rust, flexibility) and
    • high hardness and sharpness of the edge, which is achieved with high carbon steels.

On the visual side, What makes Damascus knives stand out are the distinctive patterns resembling flowing water. These patterns, known as ‘Damascus Patterns’, are a result of combining two types of steel, which is folded and hammered multiple times.

Once the blade is shaped, sharpened, and polished, it is exposed to an acidic solution that brings out the etched pattern.

As far as materials are in question, most high-quality modern knives are made either out of carbon steel, stainless steel, or of mixed steel alloys. However, by using multiple types of steel in a Damascus blade, the best qualities of carbon steel (hardness) and stainless steel (resistance to rust) are combined.

Know Your Tool - Parts of a Knife ( Jargon and Structure )

To be able to learn more about knives, you have to learn the terminology first. We all know about the two main parts that make a knife – a blade and a handle.

However, a knife is composed of parts that go by different names.

knife-parts-terminology

A blade has the following segments:

  • a point
  • a tip
  • an edge
  • a spine
  • and a heel

The part connecting the blade to the handle is called a bolster.

A handle is constructed of the grip, which is held in place by the handle fasteners, a tang, and a butt.

If the blade extends all the way to the butt in one piece and the grip is attached to the tang from the sides, we name this a ‘full-tang’ knife.

Some knives have the blade inserted into the handle and the butt is not connected to the material of the blade. Such knives are referred to as ‘half-tang’ knives.

Regardless the structure, a good knife is the one which has all the parts made of quality materials and is also well balanced.

A well-balanced knife is the one that stays level when we hold it on a finger placed at the spot between the blade and the grip. This type of balancing is crucial to various kinds of kitchen knives and is also desired with most other types of knives.

However, note that some special knives are intentionally balanced towards the blade and some even towards the grip, which ensures better handling for their specific purpose.

Top 3 Best Selling Damascus Kitchen Knife Types in 2019

The most common types of knives which you can find in kitchens and households around the world are:

  • a Chef’s knife,
  • a Santoku,
  • and a Nakiri.

Chef’s knives are dominating western households and are especially popular in Europe and America.

Its counterpart in the east is a Santoku knife, which is often called an ‘eastern version’ of a Chef’s knife.

A Nakiri is another famous Asian knife which is nowadays finding its place in the west as well.

Let’s take a look at these frequently used knives and their properties …

A chef’s knife is an essential knife in your kitchen. You can use it for almost any cutting task.

A chef’s knife has a rather ample blade ranging from 7 to 10 inches but is usually around 8 inches long.

The blade is large enough to cut bigger pieces, but the knife still handles exceptionally well when processing smaller ones, like, for example, mincing garlic or slicing cherry tomatoes.

According to our studies, more than half of the people who are searching to buy Damascus knives are looking for a chef’s knife.

We have some of the best at great prices!

Santoku is a Japanese version of a chef’s knife, which became popular in the western world in the last fifteen years.

As this knife entered the market, it immediately became a sought-for item, and it populated a high number of ordinary western households by its presence.

A Santoku much resembles the chef’s knife in terms of use and handling, and in many cases, the selection of Santoku over a chef’s knife is purely an aesthetic preference.

That being said, it is a bit more convenient for women and people with smaller hands, simply because it is a bit less bulky.

Check the best item in our stock!

Nakiri might look like a chef’s knife with the tip cut off. But still, it is quite different.

Nakiri is a traditional Japanese knife designed for chopping vegetables. Because of its sharpness, it allows making slices of food with just one push towards the cutting board.

The ample blade allows scooping up the slices, which adds additional functionality to this attractive knife.

You must not mistake a Nakiri with a Cleaver knife. Nakiri has a thinner blade, and it is not designed for chopping through meat or bone.

Nakiri is a trendy type of knife among vegetarians and people who like to prepare Asian and Japanese style dishes where lots of chopped vegetable is being used.

From Chipped Stone to Most Expensive Damascus Knife

A knife is one of the oldest tools known to man. Originating from prehistoric times, it is one of man’s best friends and one of the key elements to human survival and progress.

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The oldest known stone knife found in Jordan dated 250.000 B.C. (Photo credit: April Nowell)

Through the millennium, shapes, designs, and materials of knives have progressed from simple chipped stones to obsidian blades to soft metals such as copper and bronze, to iron, and eventually to steel alloy and Damascus knives.

Even though the materials and craftsmanship have evolved dramatically since the prehistoric times, the practical use of knives and blades has stayed the same. We can say that knives will accompany us until the end of humanity.

After all, a knife is a tool that every one of us uses on a daily basis. Whether we use them in the kitchen or outdoors, it is something so familiar that we even don’t notice it. Nevertheless, we can not imagine living without knives.

Some of the best modern knives are made of laminated steel, commonly known as Damascus.

One of the most expensive ones, a ‘Nesmuk Jahrhundert’ knife has a price tag of 80.000 EUR.

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One of the most expensive Damascus steel knives - Nesmuk Jahrhundertmesser priced at 80.000 EUR

A unique feature of the damask knife is the beautiful steel grain, which is a typical sign of the incredibly complex production.

A knife is still a knife; however, in terms of quality, usability, and sharpness, we have come a long way since the stone age.

A sharp Damascus blade even passes the “hair test.” Here, a single hair, without keeping it taut, can be cut in half.

How Damascus Steel is Made - A Brief History of Forging

A technology of Damascus steel making is originating from the middle east – India, Sri Lanka, Persia, and Syria, where Damascus steel blades were produced from the 3rd century to 17th-century A.C.

First known Damascus blades were made from Wootz steel originating from India. Wootz steel was quite legendary and was at that time centuries ahead of other steel types. The technology of production was for long centuries kept as a secret and was a mystery to the western world.

The Wootz steel was produced by fusing and hammering two types of steel or alloy together, then re-folding and striking it again. Steel was folded many times, creating ever finer patterns in the ingots which were then used to forge knives, swords and other blades.

 

Such technology of production made the blades and knives extremely hard and durable while still keeping their plasticity.

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A bladesmith from Damascus, ca. 1900

In ancient times for many centuries, the Damascus steel knives and blades were famous for their quality and resistance. However, with the birth of metalsmiths, smelting, forging, and casting workshops in the mid 18th century and production of different alloys, the art of Damascus steel making was gradually dying out.

The Damascus steel was eventually re-discovered just in the last decade and has again claimed its former glory on account of intricate steel patterns and overall excellent quality.

Nowadays, the Damascus patterns are achieved by combining the folding and hammering technique with high-grade modern steel materials. Historically praised weapon blades have found their place on thrones of modern households and kitchens in the form of Damascus steel knives.

A Damascus knife, therefore, is a must-have for any serious knife lover. It combines beauty and quality with tradition and brings back the spirit of ancient times to any kitchen, camping, or hunting experience.

Modern Steels and Alloys for Making Damascus Knives

VG-10 Steel Blank - Damascus Pattern
Steel blank used for making knives with Damascus pattern.

Top graded modern steels used as core materials in the production of high-quality Damascus steel knives nowadays are:

  • VG-10
  • AUS-10
  • 10Cr15CoMoV (Very similar composition as VG-10)
  • 7Cr17

These types of steel, in addition to iron and carbon, also contain elements such as chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, vanadium, manganese, and other elements in carefully measured percentages to achieve quality, which is best for specific knife blades.

These alloys achieve hardness levels of carbon steel but are less brittle and are, in addition, resistant to rust.

The steel blades are heat treated with industry precision. It is necessary to understand that the heat treatment is just as important as the material from which the knife is made.

In our store, you can get the knives made from the best contemporary steel alloys with the highest quality ratings.  Apart from that, each knife is a story of its own. Therefore, the choice of a knife is foremost a question of your aesthetic preference.

Damascus Steel Knives - 5 Things To Watch Out FOR When BuyinG A KNIFE

Being the knife enthusiasts ourselves, we strongly advise you to buy a good damascus knife, however be careful and watch for the following …

1. Price and Quality - Don't Buy an Overpriced Knife!

There are thousands of versions, models, and brands of knives available online and in stores around the world. Some knives are handmade and others are factory-made.

They can be stamped or forged from different steel types, and hardened by various production processes. Also, the price tags can range from as low as $40 all the way up to $4000 (or even more) for a single knife.

There are many factories and individual knife makers – some new and unknown, and others with long and established tradition and heritage.

Factory produced or Handmade Knives – What is Better?

You can get a fair priced factory knife or a more expensive handmade signature knife. But, beware, many times a less expensive factory knife can be better than a priced handmade knife.

The thing is that knife making factories nowadays use the best steel, and have perfected their knife making process from start to the end. Knives are produced according to standardized procedures and undergo a strict inspection process. The quality of all items is the same.

When compared to a handmade knife made by an individual enthusiast, in some cases a factory knife might not look so attractive – but the quality can be the same or even better. And it will cost you only a fraction of a price of a handmade knife.

That being said, there are many individual knife makers, especially from Japan, who are considered top of the line. If you are looking for a handmade damascus steel knife, do yourself a favour and buy the one made by a Japanese knifemaker. You will pay the price (ranging from cca $150 for a simple Takayuki chef’s knife up to $350 for a Damascus Kurosaki), but you’ll end up with a good kitchen knife in hand.

What if you buy one of our knives?

In our shop we mainly offer selected branded knives of the best Chinese manufacturers (some even make knives for big western companies, such as for example Dalstrong). The knives we sell can be compared to the linked Japanese knives, both by quality and performance, but they cost much less. The 10Cr15CoMoV steel is very similar to highly praised VG10

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