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Damascus ? #7399136 01/08/19 07:37 PM
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I had a couple of questions on Damascus, maybe some or y'all knife guys can help me out. I have always liked the way it looked and considered getting a knife with a Damascus blade, but i have a couple of friends with them and they both said that while pretty they were not impressed with the functionality of the blade. Hard to sharpen, won't hold an edge etc., but maybe they got a bad blade, i don't know. So my question boils down to is Dasmacus any better or worse than say a plain 1095 blade of the same design? Am i gaining anything other than looks by going with Damascus? For a user knife, like hunting/field dressing/skinning, not chopping down trees, is there a better standard blade material, or is Damascus plenty good for that?

Re: Damascus ? [Re: RJH1] #7399477 01/09/19 02:05 AM
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There are all kinds of damascus with different properties. Some are good. Some are not. The thing you should know regarding appearance is the blades have to be treated to make the layers stand out to the eye. After you use the knife a while it will not look so much like damascus unless you have the blade etched again.

For a general use knife, I like VG10. I might sharpen one or twice a year. If you wanted to abuse the blade, you could do everything on several deer before having to put an edge back on it; not that I do.

For field dressing, I like the Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter. It'll do two deer before wanting sharpening if I let it go. My favorite for skinning is an Opinel with rounded tip. It'll do one.

I don't let them go, though. It is much easier to keep the edge on a knife with a ceramic rod as you go than to have to sit down and put an edge back on one.

The short answer to this was: get a Spyderco Bill Moran and Sharpmaker. Also throw a Swiss Army Hunter in your deer pack.

Re: Damascus ? [Re: RJH1] #7399819 01/09/19 02:39 PM
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There are two ways to design things -

1. Function following form is when how somethings looks dictates how functional or dysfunctional it is - aesthetics is the priority. To some people, Damascus looks cool and/or pretty and that's why it's used.

2. Form following function is when how something functions dictates how it looks - function and utility is the priority.

Using Damascus steel is an example of #1 above - high relative cost, no better and probably inferior in terms of pure utility and performance to the most inexpensive carbon 10 series steels.

Most knives being produced today are examples of #1 in whole or in part.

In the final analysis, some people like jewelry made into the shape of a knife and some do not.

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Last edited by Bush Monkey Knives; 01/09/19 02:47 PM.
Re: Damascus ? [Re: RJH1] #7399913 01/09/19 04:29 PM
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Damascus is as good as the steels it is made from. If you have Damascus from Pakistan made out of car bumpers and 55 gallon drums, it won't hold an edge. If you have Damascus made from 1084 and 15N20, it will perform identically to a 1084 or 15n20 knife.

To the OP, chances are that your Damascus wasn't made from good stuff.


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Re: Damascus ? [Re: Jason Fry] #7400259 01/09/19 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason Fry
Damascus is as good as the steels it is made from. If you have Damascus from Pakistan made out of car bumpers and 55 gallon drums, it won't hold an edge. If you have Damascus made from 1084 and 15N20, it will perform identically to a 1084 or 15n20 knife.

To the OP, chances are that your Damascus wasn't made from good stuff.

it's also assuming the heat treat was done properly as well,,, someone can start with the best steels and if it's not heat treated right it'll suck just like a pakicrap knife


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Re: Damascus ? [Re: ShaneA] #7400428 01/10/19 02:26 AM
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Every steel has a SPECIFIC heat treat procedure.

How then do you heat treat different steels, each with different heat treating procedures, simultaneously?

Answer: you donít because itís impossible.

Heat treating two different steels simultaneously is a trade off because neither of the two steels can be heat treated to achieve their maximum potential. And, this is something Damascus guys donít like to discuss.

Last edited by Bush Monkey Knives; 01/10/19 02:45 AM.
Re: Damascus ? [Re: Bush Monkey Knives] #7400571 01/10/19 04:38 AM
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I won't get into a peeing match on looks but a good Damascus knife is no better and no worse than a good carbon steel knife be ause that's what you have, two carbon steels forge welded together. By the end of the second weld the carbon has migrated and equaled out. How a knife cuts will be determined by the grind how it holds an edge is most often determined by the steel and being treated at it's best. And yes. They can look pretty and still work.


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Re: Damascus ? [Re: Jerry Fisk] #7400621 01/10/19 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jerry Fisk
I won't get into a peeing match on looks but a good Damascus knife is no better and no worse than a good carbon steel knife be ause that's what you have, two carbon steels forge welded together. By the end of the second weld the carbon has migrated and equaled out. How a knife cuts will be determined by the grind how it holds an edge is most often determined by the steel and being treated at it's best. And yes. They can look pretty and still work.



Fair enough - "Heat treating two different steels simultaneously is a trade off because neither of the two steels can be heat treated to achieve their maximum potential. And, this is something Damascus guys donít like to discuss."

Migrating Carbon, Welds, two DIFFERENT carbon steels, carbon equilibrium...are all variables. And, in a perfect world where all variables turn out perfectly, Damascus steel may be as good as simple and cheap off the shelf carbon steel.

Re: Damascus ? [Re: RJH1] #7400743 01/10/19 02:46 PM
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Been biting my tongue responding to this but, I need to say one thing. Not all Damascus is the same as Jason stated, and like Shane said it depends on who is heat treating the steel. That goes for ANY KIND of steel.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of each steel involved in producing Damascus all I can tell you is that I do buy Alabama Damascus steel from Brad Vice and I've sold over 1000 knives with not one complaint. I don't care if I'm making a knife from 1075, 52100, Damascus and others. I heat treat and temper each according to MY recipe for each particular steel. I test all my blades and concluding with a bone chop. I sacrifice a blade every now and them to insure the grain structure is refined to my liking. As my mentor Ed Fowler said, "I may have to depend on my knife to rescue me one day, and I want to know it' not going to let me down."

None of us on this forum have the ability to inspect the various steels involved in making a Damascus to see how each responded after heat treat! All I can tell you is that MY Damascus Steel blades perform as well as the other steels I use. I make cutting tools, that will not let you down be it 5160 or Damascus. I don't make hammers, screw drivers or chisels. You'd never use a screw driver to cut a seat belt in a burning car and vice versa.


Damascus in the hands of a master is a great steel, Damascus in the hands of a layman can be a disaster!

Re: Damascus ? [Re: bjankowski] #7401231 01/11/19 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bjankowski
Been biting my tongue responding to this but, I need to say one thing. Not all Damascus is the same as Jason stated, and like Shane said it depends on who is heat treating the steel. That goes for ANY KIND of steel.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of each steel involved in producing Damascus all I can tell you is that I do buy Alabama Damascus steel from Brad Vice and I've sold over 1000 knives with not one complaint. I don't care if I'm making a knife from 1075, 52100, Damascus and others. I heat treat and temper each according to MY recipe for each particular steel. I test all my blades and concluding with a bone chop. I sacrifice a blade every now and them to insure the grain structure is refined to my liking. As my mentor Ed Fowler said, "I may have to depend on my knife to rescue me one day, and I want to know it' not going to let me down."

None of us on this forum have the ability to inspect the various steels involved in making a Damascus to see how each responded after heat treat! All I can tell you is that MY Damascus Steel blades perform as well as the other steels I use. I make cutting tools, that will not let you down be it 5160 or Damascus. I don't make hammers, screw drivers or chisels. You'd never use a screw driver to cut a seat belt in a burning car and vice versa.


Damascus in the hands of a master is a great steel, Damascus in the hands of a layman can be a disaster!


Well stated Bob!


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Re: Damascus ? [Re: RJH1] #7401401 01/11/19 02:34 AM
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Thanks for posting everyone, very informative

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