Damascus is the ancient capital city of Syria, and it is one of the oldest occupied cities in the world. Due to its lengthy history, Damascus is full of archaeological sites, and it features a resilient Islamic culture.
Historians believe that the first Damascus steel swords were formed near the city from 900 AD to 1750 AD. To make weapons from Damascus steel, early sword smiths used Persian metal forming methods. When the Crusaders observed a steel sword slicing through another weapon, they referred to the powerful steel sword as a Damascus blade, which made the material renowned. The steel was able to cut through a lesser quality sword with one swipe, and swords made from Damascus steel maintained a sharp edge. According to early written documents, Damascus blades were strong enough to slice through rocks. Historians have speculated that the patterned facade of a Damascus blade is the cause of the material's strength as the pattern creates an alternating collection of firm and flexible strips of iron.
The sword smiths of ancient Damascus kept their forging methods a secret. In fact, the techniques were kept so confidential that today's forgers have been unable to replicate Damascus steel perfectly. However, modern day steel smiths have found forging methods that come close to reproducing the original steel, and as a result, contemporary Damascus steel knives and swords are available for purchase. The ancient Middle Eastern metal smiths lost the Damascus steel forging technique around 1750 AD. Historians theorize that the metal smiths lost the ability to produce Damascus swords because they used up all of the area's ore sources, which included trace amounts of vanadium or tungsten. The added substances may be one of the reasons that ancient Damascus swords were so strong.
Today, people buy Damascus steel cutting tools because the material produces quality swords and knives. Items made from Damascus steel are also beautiful. Collectors often acquire Damascus steel knives because of the material's mysterious and lengthy past.
In the early 1970s, several knife artisans began forming knives using the Damascus production technique. As a result, the knife smiths were able to create high quality cutting tools, which caused the knife style to become popular.
Pattern welding is the most commonly used production technique for manufacturing a modern day Damascus knife. During the welding process, the developer will create several metal layers that he or she bends together through forge welding. In fact, modern manufacturers may use approximately 200 metal layers. The forging process also involves the use of extreme heat. Professionals often use a gas fired forge to create contemporary Damascus knives. With the high level of heat, the forger is able to form the material into a bar stock. The profile is also ground to the needed blade shape. The technique results in a blade that blends strength and flexibility, which are the traditional elements needed for a proper sword or knife. Furthermore, the production method makes the attractive wavy pattern that is a trait of the original Damascus blades.
Due to the durability of Damascus steel, most knife manufacturers make combat knives or heavy-duty tools from the material. Owners of Damascus steel knives can use the device for practical cutting purposes. Today, knife makers frequently form Damascus steel knife handles from stag and bone. Also, some knife artisans create the knife model in hard steel while other metal smiths make the cutting tool with basic layers that are too soft for knife owners to use feasibly. These knife models are decorative.
Case and Boker manufacture Damascus knives. Specifically, Case develops Damascus knife models like the Tony Bose Hunter, Swayback Gent and Celtic Clover Trapper. The Boker Company makes the Thuya Wood, Dino II and Leopard Damascus knife models. Consumers can also purchase kitchen cutlery made with Damascus steel. In most cases, Damascus kitchen cutlery is used for decorative purposes instead of for practical reasons as most people do not require the strength of Damascus steel in the kitchen.
The Two Finger Knife Company is another manufacturer of Damascus steel knives. In 1991, Norm Schenk started teaching metal smith apprentices how to produce Damascus steel knives. The company's knives have small blades that measure 1/2 of an inch to 3 inches long. In addition, the knife company's first cutting tools featured a handle that was so small that a person could only wrap two fingers around it, which is how the company got its name. The Two Finger Knife Company was featured on the History Channel for making throwing knives for the "Top Shop" television program. The network showcased the knife company again for manufacturing pipe tomahawks.
If knife consumers receive an offer to buy a traditionally made Damascus steel knife, then they should proceed with caution because no one knows the exact technique that ancient knife artisans used to form the blades. The only cutting tools available today that feature the original production method are archaeological artifacts.
Cutlery companies make kitchen flatware, combat knives and decorative knives from Damascus steel. People buy cutting tools made with the material for practical and novelty purposes. Furthermore, Damascus steel knives feature a unique blade that is highly distinctive. However, the knife style can be as useful as it is decorative. The blade's uncommon appearance is the essence of a custom Damascus steel knife.