To accurately say that a blade is ‘Damascus’, it has to have a hard steel core that is laminated on both sides with several layers of softer steel. This arduous manner of forging does not just result in the intricate swirling and wave pattern. It also makes the blade harder, more flexible, and sharper for a long time.
Oral history has it that Damascus swords, made in Syria and the Middle East, are some of the hardest, sharpest, and most beautiful swords ever created in the whole world.
While there are no relics to prove that legend and bladesmithing formulas from that era and area are now lost, various theories of how these were made have been tried by so many.
And it would seem that many have succeeded in those trials because the Damascus cladding on blades has come about, making some of the most striking and highly expensive knives.
What is it?
This is not another type of knife according to its use or function, compared to other ordinary blades.
The Damascus knife refers to the way the blade was treated or manufactured.
Damascus steel is the result of a manufacturing technique that gives the blade’s knife surface with design marks.
Talking about its past, the history of this steel is not that clear.
It is claimed to be in line with its Arabic roots, and even the name ‘Damascus’ is used as the capital of Syria.
As early as 800 AD, this metal is associated with being sturdy and strong.
There are also some historians who claim that it is already present in 300 AD in India and having the same way of how it is manufactured and the same looks.
The most common distinguishing mark here is the wavy design.
Due to the creative minds of the blacksmiths back in the day and the advanced manufacturing processes today, some knives using this technique can result in other designs such as water drops or star-like patterns.
This blade is made from different layers of steel put on top of the other and welded together.
The blacksmith would do the task of combining them and making the design out of it.
This is a very strong blade, as it consists of different steels forged together to build one whole blade.
There are some that are manufactured with carbon steel, where it gets rusty easily.
Modern knifemakers recreate it in the easiest way – by printing.
It takes the aesthetics of an original Damascus knife, but the design fades away with the usual wear and tear.
Some even use a laser to make the print longer lasting.
Enthusiasts would not consider it as an original product, but just a regular designed knife.
What is it used for?
Coming from its history, this cutlery is primarily used before in different kinds of weapons.
It was first appreciated with its strength, and the beauty just comes in the second.
Because of its aesthetics, some use it as a display in the kitchen.
Some of these knives are very expensive, where the pricing considers rarity and natural design.
Some see it as a form of art.
Aside from weapons, it is also used as a normal household cutter.
In fact, some shops sell Damascus knives with the size of an ordinary cleaver, chef’s knife, and the likes.
This would incorporate the beauty of the steel while being functional as a kitchen cutlery type.
Taking care of it
The unique beauty of it with different steels forged together requires special care.
The intricate etchings would need additional tools to maintain it, compared to a household kitchen knife that only needs a sharpening tool.
Since some Damascus knives are made from carbon steel, it would require wiping a special wax that will avoid moisture.
If not kept dry and clean, rust and discoloration can be seen on it.
Be mindful of the handle too – moisture found in them can damage the portion where it holds the blade.
If it is made with stainless steel, it would require less care because of its resistance to stains.
Avoid using abrasive tools too, such as rough cloths and steel wool, including hard metal cleaners.
Using them can damage its design.
Some knifemakers can offer re-etching services for damaged knives, for an additional fee.
Did you know that leather sheaths can also damage it? The chemicals used for treating leather can affect its unique design and attract moisture.
If you found an instruction manual on the package when buying it, keep them as they have valuable information on how to make it last for a long time.
Who knows, you can pass this special thing on to your next generation!
Where to buy it?
With their natural beauty and craftsmanship, true Damascus knives may not be easily available in your neighborhood kitchen supplies store, or even in your favorite supermarkets.
It is more likely to be available with specialty stores, where you can explore more designs and sizes.
If there are no specialty stores in your area, the internet will surely help you find this kind of product.
You can explore different stores all over the world – just take note of the shipping costs and the country’s regulations.
Look out for fake ones too – if it’s too cheap, it must be too good to be true.
Some owners and collectors have created online forums and pages that will help you check if the one you prefer buying (or already bought) is a counterfeit.
Even if the origin of it is unclear, its beauty is still appreciated up to the present time.
To maintain its most unique characteristic, proper care is required to make it last longer.
Whether it is for display or for everyday use, it would be a perfect addition to any collection.
Last Updated on August 26, 2021