What is Damascus steel?

by Dane Williams on January 12, 2022

What is Damascus steel?

Damascus knives are some of the most beautiful and sought-after knives in the world. But what are Damascus knives, and why are they so special? This blog post will explore the origins of Damascus knives, their unique construction, and the benefits of owning one.

For all those not in the know here’s a dictionary definition for damascus steel:



steel given a wavy pattern by hammer-welding strips of steel and iron followed by repeated heating and forging, used chiefly for knife and sword blades. Such items were often marketed in Damascus (now the capital city of modern Syria) during the medieval period.

Damascus steel origins

The Middle East, around 500AD, was the creative hub for damascus steel. Used to produce distinctive weapons of amazing capabilities this became known as damascus steel as it was supposed to be created in the city of Damascus. Made from wootz steel, imported  from India along the Silk Road to the Middle East, and made weapons famous for being sharp but difficult to break.

Production of damascus steel declined, and around the 19th Century the art of making this prized steel appeared to be lost, as little more was being made. Modern research suggests that this was not a loss of knowledge, but  rather a loss of access to the appropriate Indian wootz steel

Nowadays we often call pattern welding damacus, and if you would like to explore this more check out this great article

 Are damascus knives good?

 There are two reasons why I think Damascus knives are amazing:

  1. They are beautiful and unique. The blending of two metals into the blade gives each knife an exclusive characteristic. When you have a true Damascus blade you are holding something unique in your hands … this knife is yours and special.

  2. They are functional. When working with metal there is always a compromise between several elements depending on the metal you use:

          - Hardness
          - Toughness
          - Wear resistance
          - Corrosion Resistance
          - Edge retention

You can create a knife which is very hard, but it might not be tough, and could easily chip or crack. Conversely, a knife focusing on toughness can flex more, meaning that while it’s unlikely to chip it is also unlikely to hold a sharp edge. If you love this stuff check out this amazing article on knife steel. This is where Damascus steel comes in: a balance between hard and tough using a mix of two metals.... 

How is damascus steel made?

Layers of the chosen metals are stacked and then welded together. This metal billet is then hammered out to roughly twice its original size, and then folded back onto itself. This cycle is completed as necessary as it increases the number of layers in the metal and creates the distinctive Damascus patterning. Following this the blade is shaped and finished into a knife.

Here is a bit of History channel drama on forging a Damascus blade: 


Kind Knives offers forged Damascus knives, made out of 1080 and 14N20, like the knives in the video above, and we also offer laser patterned Damascus knives!

Let me know if you have any questions below!