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How to Make Damascus Steel

How to Make a Damascus Steel Blade:
There are many different techniques that bladesmiths and blacksmiths use to make Damascus knife blades. The following is a basic method for a fixed blade knife:

Prepare the Billet:
Start with five pieces of steel. Two high carbon pieces and three medium carbon pieces. (If forging a sword, you may want to use seven pieces total, instead of five.) The thickness, width and length of the pieces depends on the size of the blade desired. One of the medium carbon pieces should be made longer in order to handle the billet in the forge. Clean the impurities from the pieces of steel, then sandwich the two high carbon pieces between the medium carbon pieces. Tie the pieces together with wire or arc weld them together at the end. The wire or weld material must be removed after the first forge weld.

Place the billet in the forge and bring to a cherry red color. Remove it and cover with borax. When the borax becomes fluid on the steel and the steel begins to spark, it is ready to weld. Hammer the pieces together with a hammer and anvil.

Draw, Cut, Fold and Weld:
Draw the piece out to twice the original length. Remember to strike the billet straight down to draw it out and not to "push" the steel out, in order to avoid splitting. The billet will have to be heated several times during this process. Cut the billet in the middle, but leave a little material to keep it together until the next weld. Turn the billet on its side and hammer enough to swell the center of the billet. This will provide a convex surface for welding. The slag and borax will be forced out of the billet instead of getting trapped inside. Clean the billet and reheat. Then fold the billet back on itself. Add borax and heat to a welding temperature and then weld.

Repeat the draw, cut, fold and weld process 5, 6, or 7 times in order to obtain 150, 300 or 600 layers respectively. The more layers, the more skill that is required for a good looking blade.

Hammer or cut and grind the billet into the shape of the blade desired.

Heat Treat:
Heat the blade to a orange-red color (1,400 to 1,500 degrees), then quench in a standard quenching oil. A brine solution can also be used. Temper the blade by slowly heating to around 400 degrees for about two hours (depending on the size and material used).

Sand the blade, using finer and finer grit. Then polish and sharpen.

Dip the blade in an acid bath. Ferric chloride is used with about four parts water to one part acid (a fifty percent acid and fifty percent white vinegar solution can also be used). For best results, heat the blade to about 100 degrees. The acid eats away at the softer metal faster. This brings out the distinctive grain pattern.

Add Handle:
The last step is adding the guard, hilt and handle. Enjoy!

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