The Fall of Damascus

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by jideta, May 8, 2020.

  1. Monofletch

    Monofletch Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    I think one of those would look OUTSTANDING on my belt!! What do you think!!!??
    I think the “Damascus sucks” comments are aimed more at the Pakistani and cheap China knives on Fleabay.
    Horsewright likes this.
  2. Ron Sabbagh

    Ron Sabbagh Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 15, 1999
    Hey Horsewright...there are many days when a city dwelling man like myself dreams of being and working in the outdoors. Today is one of those days. Especially since my state of DE is still in lockdown. Thank you for the pics and comments. Most enjoyable read on a lazy Saturday.

    I wish I had a reason to order one of your knives with matching sheath & belt.

    Heck...maybe I don’t need a reason;-)
    Alsharif and Jsega51 like this.
  3. jideta

    jideta Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 8, 2020
    I suppose I should say that I do have three Damascus blades.
    I got them I think from Jantz and I think they are all USA made (according to them).
    Not impressed. These are small blades, not the honking big ass blades I used to lust after.

    After reading all the comments I now feel the need to have at least one Damascus knife, a 'real' one, one that I can admire and remember the glory days of this steel (and I said I would never have a safe queen).
    Based on the contemporary examples I've seen, I better start saving my scripts!
    Damascus was the magic steel.
    Is the magic still there?
    We'll see.
  4. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    We should do the Fall of Toledo next.
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  5. Monofletch

    Monofletch Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Two very different forms of Damascus I believe Spyderco used a VG10 core..... the Damasteel is rumored to feed the hungry and cure the sick. :D

    587ED0EC-3A23-404D-A576-4D417E8A225A.jpeg 6AD0A52A-9CC8-424D-976A-5FC8DBD61199.jpeg
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  6. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    I did notice that cable damascus has not been mentioned. Not wanting to argue about if it's better to use good commercial cable or roll-your-own, both have proponents, and neither is completely right or wrong. I've seen beautiful examples of both methods, as genuine art, and as tough-as-steel-cable working knives. While it is obviously a pattern welded steel, most makers do not try to manipulate the pattern, preferring to let the steel say what it's going to say. Some of the roll-your-own guys do some amazing things with cable patterning, but it's not necessary. I think it was Bagwell who said something to the effect of 'Cable is the toughest damascus to do right, but it is the toughest damascus if done right.'

    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  7. WhitleyStu

    WhitleyStu Keep'em scary sharp!!! Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 8, 2006
    If you were into knifes in the mid 90s Parker Edwards was a common name in damascus production knives. Blades were a bit soft, but were an affordable way to carry a damascus knife and not be afraid to have it be a "user". The pages of Smokey Mountain Knives catalog were filled with Parker Edwards knives back in the day. As I recall I had 14 Parker Edwards damascus knives at one point in the 90s.
  8. Arathol


    Jan 1, 2003
    Yes, Jim Parker certainly sold a lot of damascus knives, and they weren't bad. Parker Edwards, Bulldog, Weidmannsheil, they all had at least some models with damascus blades.

    A Bulldog lockback with a Buck 110 that I believe has a damascus blade sourced from Parker

    a couple small Weidmannsheil folders

  9. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Thanks Buddy!

    There's always a reason. Ya bored of an afternoon in lockdown, check our Instagram page, lots of cowboyin' pics there.



    USMCPOP Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 6, 2016
    They sure can be pretty ...

    upload_2020-5-10_14-22-4.jpeg upload_2020-5-10_14-23-15.jpeg
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  11. jideta

    jideta Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 8, 2020
    Cable from what I remember had some crazy patterns! I don't think I've seen any in a while.
    I wanted to try cable forging in school but the only cable I could find was galvanized.

    Went on a Damascus search last night and it's difficult to tell what is what. I sort of assume that if it's below a hunski or two it's stock removal and if it's above two hundred it's probably handmade. Lot's of folks are not telling!
    Having to separate the wheat from the chaff is a bit frustrating.
  12. Lodd

    Lodd Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 23, 2015
    @Horsewright : I always love your stories. I'm just a simple Dutch boy working a simple office job and it's amazing to me real cowboys still exist and the things you do. I love reading your stories and seeing the pics. Love the knives too.

    As a maker, doesn't it bum you out when brands make bad damascus or fake damascus? Aren't Damascus blades supposed to be something special? Don't the bad knives take away from your good work?
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
  13. grownstar


    Apr 24, 2013
    I don't like Pakimascus...
  14. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Don't get too hung up on the stock removal aspect. The steel whether in billet form or any other has already been forged. Even the $15-$20 damascus knives have been handmade. Just not very well. Look at fit and finish, materials used, grinding etc. Like ya would any other knife. If the price is too good to be true. It probably is, too good to be true. Spend some time on some knife suppliers sites here in the US. See what damascus goes for in its different types, see what a set of elk scales goes for, how about that nice block of ironwood. Once you have an idea of whats going in then a guy can make some thoughts on whats coming out.

    Not really. I make a lot of custom sheaths too. Folks will send me their knife and I build one of my sheaths for it. Kinda funny and I'll laugh, cause the sheath is gonna cost several times what the knife did! A guy thats gonna buy a $20 damascus knife isn't gonna buy one of mine anyways.



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  15. Hananneor


    Mar 22, 2016
    A piece from Bagwell's book (article from 1985):

    "The third steel represents by far the potential for the greatest blade
    of all and the greatest likelihood that you will be ripped off. This steel is Damascus steel, which in the simplest terms is a laminate of iron and steel. Most Damascus blades will contain somewhere between 250 and 1,100 layers. This is the famous “watered” steel of military legend, and when properly shaped, forged, and tempered makes a blade quite unlike any other. A good Damascus blade has an incredible keenness to its edge not possessed by other steels, is extremely shock resistant, and is capable of holding its edge for an unbelievable length of time. In addition, it’s very easy to sharpen. The only drawback is that they are extremely difficult to make properly. This means that the good ones are expensive and require a high level of skill and dedication to make. This steel is difficult to handle, both in its manufacture as a billet and as a blade during heat treatment. A slight error in judgment on the part of the bladesmith at any one of a numberof points in the knifemaking process will result in an inferior blade. When Damascus is properly handled it makes a knife that is in a class by itself. Improper handling on the part of the maker will give the purchaser a beautiful, expensive piece that will not cut, will not hold an edge, and, if it will cut, is likely to be quite brittle. The best advice I can offer the man who wants a Damascus knife is for him to insist on several things. First, be sure that the man who is making your Damascus knife made the steel himself. If he didn’t make the steel, odds are overwhelming that he won’t have the knowledge to properly heat-treat the blades. No two bars of Damascus steel are ever metallurgically the same, regardless of who makes them, and the knifemaker has to have the knowledge and ability to deal with this. Second, ask the maker how well his blades cut. Ask if his knife will cut a 2A stud in two and still shave. It should, and if it won’t you shouldn’t buy if you are looking for performance. Just remember that there is no free lunch, and in Damascus you don’t always get what you pay for. So what does all this add up to, and what steel do I recommend? For most applications a good blade from one of the straight carbon steels is best. My preference in this area is 1040, and a blade properly forged from this material is hard to equal, let alone better. Remember that men have gone down to the sea and carried their knives and swords with them for centuries, and their blades have not turned to useless moundsof rust overnight. Moderate care against moisture will reward you with a blade with strength, superior cutting quality, and ease of sharpening that the stainless blades can’t approach. If I absolutely had to have a knife made from stainless, my choice in
    this case would be a blade made of D2. D2 has better cutting qualities in general than the other stainless steels and is not as prone to chipping as are the others.

    Which brings us back to the ultimate mankilling blade, Damascus.
    There is nothing like it when properly done. Just be damned careful about where and how you spend your money. The men who have a true understanding of this steel are extremely few in number. They know that all that glitters is not gold. You should, too."

    Originally appeared in Soldier of Fortune, November 1985

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  16. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    I had that issue, read that article. Long time ago, now....
  17. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    I really wanted a damascus knife when I was teenagers and still getting 1-3€ knives from e-bay. They all sucked.
    Never got that e-bay damascus.

    When I decided enough money for a decent knife I rather went to the store of Cold Steel supplier. I ended up with SK-5 Recon Tanto.

    Now, looking at real damascus prices, I can get CPM-3V knife in that same price range. And CPM-3V is tougher, holds better edge... and I use my knives. So there's no reason for me to buy damascus just because it's pretty, since it soon wouldn't be that pretty after I used it.
  18. cbrstar

    cbrstar Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 7, 2015
    This video probably been posted before, but he does show you what $24 gets ya in a Damascus knife! :D If you are impatient fast forward to 16:04

    I could be wrong, but IMHO pattern welding was a crude way for ancient civilizations like the Romans to try to combine the properties of two different steels to make an alloy. So super steels etc being a alloy is the evolution of that.

    When you buy a super steel you basically know what you are getting. Damascus? who knows what they mixed it with and the blades are usually too pretty for people to work them hard and actually see. Personally though I do love the look of a well made Damascus blade. :cool:
    Smiling likes this.
  19. Hananneor


    Mar 22, 2016
    I read somewhere, thought it was in Bill's book but couldn't find it, That Bagwell said, if you look through microscope on the edge of the blade, you will see miniature sawteeth. And on his Damascus blades one can see more delicate sawteeth to the main sawteeth.
    Apology for my broken english..
  20. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    This one is going to a working cowboy/rancher and it will be used. At the engravers right now having the bolster engraved:


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