The Process « Jonas Blade & Metalworks |

The Process

Forging Damascus Steel

I cut matching plates of two different alloys of steel, and then I bind them together into a packet called a “billet.”

I heat the billet to more than 2000 degrees and hammer it to make the layers weld together. This is called forge welding, and it turns the billet into a solid block of steel.

Next I hammer the billet out into a long bar and re-stack it so I can repeat the first forge welding step. Once I have achieved the layer count that I want, I can begin patterning.

The possibilities for damascus patterning are endless. I can bend, twist, displace, cut, or grind the billet–or all of the above–and then re-stack it and do it all over again. Eventually, I forge the billet out into a bar, and then I can begin forging the knife from there.

I think damascus is totally beguiling.

Forging A Blade

My hand forged knives begin their life as a rough bar of steel.

The roaring flames of the forge heat the bar to more than 1500 degrees. At this temperature the steel becomes much more pliable; if I hammer it at too cool a temperature, I risk cracking the steel.

I judge the temperature of the material by eye, relying on the color of its glow. Even when the steel cools to a black heat, it’s still about 900 degrees.

I hammer the steel against the face and various contours of the anvil to shape the profile and cross sections of the knife I envision. I tend to begin with the point, and then work backward toward the handle from there.

 

Here you can see a progression of the forging process, with the finished knife below. —