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the Laguiole club

Damascus blade

Damask is a way of iron refining by hammering, folding and drawing, all that to get rid of the impurities of metal. Thus a composite material is created having more or less homogeneous layers in turns, usually iron and nickel or nickel and steel.

This heterogeneous texture induces rather exceptional mechanical qualities (neither iron nor nickel can be tempered) because Damask can only partly be tempered; so metal is little breakable and stands the breaking since it difracts the shock-waves.

There are several techniques of forging Damask

- At first the occidental or Merovingian
Way used by the Merovingian forgers; it was in fact a sort of welding which disappeared in late Xth century, without any explanation.

- Then the oriental Damask or melting Damask
It is the Damask for all-round standard; for the forger the" wootz " is the philosopher's stone, but in spite of an unceasing alchemical search nobody seems to have been able to recreate the very complexe process of its elaboration.

- In the end, the Japanese Damask
It is the one to be found to-day which is forged by hammering and drawing. The several thousands of layers of sabre blades have little by little be replaced by a more limited number (a few hundreds) because if more, the texture is too dense and acid revelation doesn't give satisfactory aesthetic results.

Besides the undeniable mechanical qualities of Damask blades, we must insist upon their esthetic character ; the etymology of the word refers to the moiré materials woven in the town of the same name and not to the swords which were forged there.
The composite quality of the material gets numberless anamorphotical potentialities coming both from the folding and drawing and the working of the metal in depth (for example by sculpting).

When the piece in Damask gets the wanted shape, one need only to temper it into acid which blackens the carbon only and thus reveals the structure of metal.
We only use stainless, nevertheless very loaded with carbon steel made with steel obtained by the technology of the powders (a very thin grain-a lasting edge) because the intrinsic mechanical quality of metal allows a very hard temper
(till 63-4 Rockwell) after cryogenisation.

Technical reminders
For the making of metals by the technique of the metallurgy of powders, the molten metal goes into a vacuum box where it receives a splashing of argon : the drops of gas fixing the molecules, then the ore turns into powder.
According to the quality of steel wanted, the various powders are then mixed, heated in a vacuum, isostatic oven and pressed under high pressure (2000 bars).
This steel has practically no porosity therefore it can be used in high-tech industries such as aerospace industry.

In cutlery such steels are a first class material to make heavily carboned stainless Damask. And during the forging with the various foldings and drawings, gorgeous and various designs can be obtained.

Our Damascus steel knives all have a stainless Damascus blade made of 120 layers.