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Damascus made from Motorcycle Chain

Damascus made from Motorcycle Chain

Damascus Steel is created by forge welding multiple layers of steels (or steel and nickel or iron) into a solid piece called a billet. This billet is then folded and rewelded multiple times to produce the desired number of layers in the billet. If the billet consists of 7 layers to start, folding once will produce 14 layers. Folding again produces 28 layers. This process is continued, each fold doubling the number of layers, until completed.

Random pattern damascus is the first result of this process, in that no pattern manipulation has taken place. Patterns can be produced, however, by manipulating the steel during the forge welding process. A prime example of pattern manipulation is twist pattern, created simply by twisting the billet. More complex patterns are achievable through both pattern manipulation and by contrasting the alloy content of the various pieces of steel used to create the billet.

An example of alloy contrast is the use of 1095 (a high carbon, simple steel) and 203E (a low carbon, high nickel steel). These two steels used in combination produce a starkly contrasting light and dark pattern. This contrasting combination can then be used to create star pattern or any other number of patterns through manipulation.

When the billet is finished and then formed into a blade it is acid etched to reveal the pattern. Acid is used only to reveal the pattern not to create the pattern. Do not confuse this process with pattern etched damascus, where acid is used to create, not reveal the pattern. The pattern is revealed through acid etching because different steels (or iron or nickel) etch at different rates, thus revealing the pattern created in the blade.

Gene holding damascus billet




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If you would like to purchase a knife, order a custom made
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Gene Martin, Bladesmith
P.O. Box 396
Williams, OR 97544


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Copyright 1996 Gene Martin / Zoe Mills