Damascus steel/Damascus steel is a welded composite steel (alloyed iron and steel) that has a tradition dating back several thousand years and originates from the Near East. The name was derived from Damascus, as it was probably in this region that the first blacksmiths produced the steel in this way.
The fact that it contains a combination of different steels also means that their best material properties are combined, contributing to the flexibility and edge retention of Damascus steel/Damascus steel – whether European or Japanese steels are used.
Whichever steels are used: The decisive factor in the manufacture of Laguiole knives made of Damascus steel/Damascus steel is that several hundred layers of soft and hard steel are fire-welded together. While the harder layers are cutting and stable, but break more easily, the soft steel layers compensate for this with their pliability and flexibility. This also significantly reduces the susceptibility of the entire blade to breakage.
Today, the term Damascus steel is used for the so-called welded composite steel. This steel has been produced in Europe for over 2000 years and is very popular due to its particularly decorative pattern.
Damascus steel is unfortunately not a trademarked term, due to today’s industrial production Damascus knives are often made using inferior welded composite laminates. In these laminates, a normal blade steel is inserted in the center, which then takes over the cutting task. Further thin layers of steel are then applied to this blade steel in a rolling mill. However, these have no influence on the quality, as they are not applied in the area of the cutting surface.
The second variant, which is already significantly better in terms of quality, is produced in so-called monster packs. Here, a package of stacked steels weighing several hundred kilograms is heated and then welded by a gigantic press. Subsequently, the damask package is sawn into pieces and formed by machines into units from which knives are made. This type of damascus steel has a very high purity and freedom from defects.
The third and most noble variant is and remains a hand-forged Damascus knife. It is the highest art of forging and requires many years of professional experience. Damascus is made of two or more steels with different properties. As an example, one uses a very hard and wear-resistant steel and as a counterpart a tough and flexible one.
Through such a combination it is possible to produce a Damascus blade that has high sharpness, hardness and cutting ability, but at the same time is resilient and flexible. The beautiful damascus pattern is created by fire welding the steels, and the blades are often made of several 100 layers of steel.