I've been into blacksmithing for a little under a year now, and now that I've finally managed to make and acquire adequate tools, I've been able to really start making things (my initial setup was using a small sledge hammer for an anvil and beating on it with a smaller hammer). This project is an Instructable on how to make a small, forged–not stock removal, knife with only a homemade forge, anvil, a hammer, and determination. I am by no means a professional, and this is definitely not the only way to achieve pattern-welded steel, but it is how I managed it.

Modern damascus steel is a name for what is also known as pattern welded steel, which is the metal equivalent of folding different colors of clay together to get swirly patterns. When placed in an etching compound, the dissimilar metals will etch at different rates, bringing out the beautiful contrast.The original Damascus steel was made with a different and very specific process (though similar-looking, which is why the modern definition arose) that precious few know how to achieve, and gave Damascus the reputation of near magically strong properties. The reason for this is similar to Katanas/Samurai swords–the process allowed for a much more homogenous and therefore controlled steel than other methods allowed, making it possible to turn fairly crappy and varying grades of high/low carbon steel into a controlled substance. This yielded a much more effective blade.

**This knife is dangerous, don't get stab-happy**

Step 1: Materials and Tools


- Two or more steels (preferably high carbon) which will contrast each other. I used 1095, a very high carbon steel, and 15n20, a steel with a lot of nickel in it, which will offer bright and shiny contrast when etched.

- Flux (Borax, can be bought at the grocery store. Traditional "20 mule team Borax" will be perfectly fine.

- Rebar, long scrap rod (to be welded onto the billet as a handle)

- Wood of choice for handle

- Epoxy (5 minute is fine)

- Brass Pins

- Finishing medium for handle, I used Linseed oil

- Quenching oil (vegetable oil)

- Ferric Chloride


- Anvil (Preferably a "proper" steel anvil, though with enough persistence there are many other objects you could use if you don't have access to one. Things that can be used are: RR Track pieces, Big hammers, Random metal chunks, crappy "anvils" from Harbor freight, a big hard rock, really any hard and flat surface. Remember, we started out by hitting things with rocks on top of bigger rocks.)

- Hammer (I used a 3 pound cross-pein)

- Tongs

- Welder (optional, but helps to hold the billet together and onto the handle for the initial weld. If no welder, wrap the pieces tightly with wire)

- Forge *Capable of reaching forge-welding temperatures* – this is very important in order to successfully fuse the layers together. I'll explain more about my forge later.

- Belt grinder/files and a ton of patience

- Oven/method of tempering

- Drill/Drill press

- Vise (very helpful)

Sweet bade!<br>Is your forge old gas bottle ?<br>Looking to build one myself <br>I'm trying
Go to a local hardware store that sells them empty. Much safer! A mate and I did that, just gotta make it into a forge. Old bottles may have gas in them and that could go very bad for you or anyone near by aha
<p>If using used bottles fill them up with water and drain several times and leave bottle upside down to dry the gas is heavier than air and even with the valve removed can be dangerous.</p>
<p>Yup, agreed, that's exactly what I did and it's the safest way.</p>
<p>love it , can't wait to have a go , I started as a sheet metal worker , finished as a goldsmith , now I've retired I think I have found my new hobby . Inspirational, thank you </p>
<p>Does that pattern apply throughout the entire blade? Back and front? I'm trying to determine if the piece I have is printed on or actual damascus steel</p>
Yup it is throughout the blade, though it will be slightly different on each side because of the distortion of layers during the forging process. If you reallyy want to know for sure about your piece, you could always polish off the sides and re-etch it, though you would definitely risk damaging it.
<p>This blade is beautiful. That is one of the most beautiful pattern welded blades I have ever seen. Good job! I would love to start knifemaking but don't have the resources here in the big city of Hong Kong :( </p><p>Could you try making a straight cutthroat razor out of your pattern welded steel? That would be amazing.</p>
<p>Beautiful knife... great instructions...</p>
Finally somebody that makes an in depth tutorial
<p>Glad you thought so!</p>
Congratulations on the win, I think you deserved higher, but its not up to me :)
<p>Thank you!</p>
Just as note. The etching is not necessary. You can achieve it with heat treatment also. My father have done a lot of damascus knives without etching. There is couple of images of the knives he made on this link (sorry only in finnish) http://kimmo.kniivila.com/?p=puukot.
<p>Fabulous pattern, and you have some amazing skills!</p>
Beautiful knife! A work of art.
<p>Nice bro. Going to start soon myself, just getting the required materials set up for my first.</p>
<p>I have several knifes of Damascus steel, Kris from Indonesia. My thoughts on the above instructable whether Damascus or not; the result is a beautiful piece. Nice job!</p>
<p>I thought I was a bit of a metalsmith. Until I saw this, I had no idea how little I have done. You sir have the patience of a saint and great skills. Kudos to you. </p>
<p>Well thank you, hope your smithing goes well too!</p>
<p>Thank you, BiscuitMaker. I never thought about using a Sledge Hammer Head, for a anvil. Cool Knife. </p>
<p>Just a safety note. Please be extra careful when using a hammer head as an anvil. They are harder than Kelsies nuts, and can shatter, sending really hard shards in places like your eyes. Maybe annealing that sledgehammer head first would be recommended. Just a thought. </p>
<p>Just a litle info on fixing warped blades. Right after quenching you still have a time window of about 1 minute in which you can safely straighten a slightly warped blade with soft hammer blows. (It takes a litlle while for the crystaline structure in the steel to &quot;set&quot; after the quench). I have done this successfully on a number of occations, but it has to be done immediately after the blade is removed from the quenching oil. If you take too long it will crack the blade.</p>
<p>Just a litle info on fixing warped blades. Right after quenching you still have a time window of about 1 minute in which you can safely straighten a slightly warped blade with soft hammer blows. (It takes a litlle while for the crystaline structure in the steel to &quot;set&quot; after the quench). I have done this successfully on a number of occations, but it has to be done immediately after the blade is removed from the quenching oil. If you take too long it will crack the blade.</p>
<p>Hi there - this is all very foreign to me, but very exciting! My teenage son and I are anxious to try it when the weather cools off a bit here&hellip; Can someone give me a rough time (start to finish), and if there are better or worse places to take a &quot;break&quot; and pick it up the next day? Or is that not done? Also, is there a better starting place/beginner's project that we should tackle first? It appears we have a lot of folks on here who are no stranger to forging/blacksmithing! I'd really prefer to start this way, so please don't direct me to a local class; I'm sure they're wonderful, but I learn better this way. Thanks!</p>
<p>Also sounds like a great father-son project!</p>
<p>Thanks so much for the response! I was afraid we were in for a marathon session, and as first-timers I didn't want to get tired and compromise safety. I can't wait to build the forge!!! (Oh, btw, it's a &quot;mother-son&quot; project, lol. I just learned to weld properly over the past year or so, and when I saw this it seemed like a natural progression and such a satisfying end product! We would be so proud of something like this! ;-)</p>
<p>Thats great! I hope this helps. Whoops, sorry, sounds like an even better mother-son project.</p>
<p>You can absolutely take breaks! The only consequence would be expenditure in fuel from the repeated restarting of your forge. Forge welding, especially without a power hammer or press is very tiring, so it would be perfectly reasonable to rest after each fold. I believe I did the folds in pairs over the course of two days.</p>
<p>Could you show some pictures of how your forge works? I'd like to make one. </p>
<p>Beautiful knife!! Just completed a blade smithing program this summer. You have some very awesome results, good on you.</p><p>Hoping to build a small forge in my shop, sooner than later.</p><p>Keep up the excellent work.</p>
<p>The process for making Damascus was discovered about 30 years ago and the method was published in Scientific American. The quality of steel is determined not only by carbon content but grain. Continuous folding and forging can achieve fine grain but Damascus steel is made by a process far more sophisticated than that. The finished product has a distinctive surface pattern. Because of its fine grain it can take an extremely sharp edge but must be protected from corrosion. It is not brittle relative to other high carbon steels and it is harder than most alloy steels. </p>
<p>Kudos man, tons of work there and an excellent blade at the end!</p>
<p>Good job buddy. You mentioned that you used the best oil you could get your hands on. I have been using clarified pork fat for many years. It works just as well as some of the most expensive commercial quenching oils I have tried when I initially started forging knives and swords. Only drawback to pork fat is that it will attract flies. This is luckily delt with very easily by adding some gearbox oil to the fat at a ratio of about 1 part gearbox oil to 80 parts of fat. Flies hate the smell of the gearbox oil and will stay away.</p><p>In my experience, swirling the blade from side to side when doing the quench is like asking the steel to warp. I prefer to keep it perfectly still. As long as you are using an oil that dissipates heat quickly holding it still will not cause it to take too long to cool down, and quenching oils are designed to do just that. </p><p>To all those moaning about the use of &quot;Damascus&quot; versus &quot;Patternweld&quot;. Yes, we all know it is not the same thing, that is to say, those of us who are into the business of knife making and history. However. Do keep in mind that this is a tutorial in a public domain where most people are not knife expersts or history boffins. This tutotial was not written for those of us who know how to make knives but for those who do not know how to do it. In my experience MOST people who are not really into knives and knife making call pattern welded steel, damascus steel. Yes, they are ignorant, but without the word &quot;Damascus&quot; in the title many people who would find this tutorial interesting and informative would not have opened it.</p><p>Oh, and now you are welcome to attack me for my bad spelling and grammar and leave &quot;biscuit maker&quot; alone. Just keep in mind that my home language is not English. (I am from dark Africa.).</p><p>Biscuitmaker, you've got my vote.</p>
<p>Thank you Crossforge, I will look into the pork fat and will most definitely try out keeping it still, especially when I have longer blades. Thank you very much for your kind words.</p>
<p>You got an instructable on the forge?</p>
<p>Beautiful! I've always wanted to do somtyhingh like this.</p>
<p>Great Instructable. And very beautiful work. I just may have to try this some time. </p>
<p>Great 'ible! I have some experience with knifemaking (forging and stock removal) and the only thing I would add is that if the blade gets bent during the quenching (dunking in oil when red hot) process, don't try to fix it until you know exactly what you're doing. The method that has worked for me is clamping the blade to a flat piece of metal during tempering (heating the blade up after quenching to make less brittle) and correcting the bend by adjusting the clamps every hour or so DON'T BEND THE BLADE TOO MUCH it will break, and if you took the time to pattern weld by hand....</p><p>I was using 1084, so the blade was tempered for 2 hours at 400 degrees twice. This gave me enough time to flatten out the warp about 1 or 2 mm at a time.</p><p>If you want to learn more about becoming a knife maker, read the expert's posts on knifemaking forums. There are tons of great resources out there with extremely detailed answers to questions you didn't know you had.</p>
<p>Good point, thanks!</p>
<p>I saw a knife like this on Amazon for 1200$+ Now i see why - time is money...</p>
<p>Yeah, art perfectly melded with hardware.</p>
<p>Nice job man.</p>
<p>Ray from RI, CALM DOWN CHUBS! (I can call you CHUBS as I am proudly rotund as well). IT's an INSTRUCTABLE, not a metallurgy course.If you're so hung up on terminology and the &quot;correct&quot; usage of same, maybe you want to take an English 101 course and learn about the process of putting something in quotes (These marks if you don't know &quot; &quot; ) to indicate that the word in quotes is not the specific item being described, but a common reference thereof. So when you see the title Small Pattern Welded &quot;Damascus&quot; steel Kife [sic]...&quot; it IMMEDIATELY tells an INTELLIGENT reader that what is being discussed is pattern welding with a Damascus look. So stop trying to be so friggin' smart because you just come off as an angry (yes, we also can discern tone from your writing) blowhard. By the way, this IS a positive and constructive comment. I'm EDUCATING you at no charge.</p>
<p>HREFAB - Hats off to you, sir.</p>
<p>Simply beautiful!</p>
<p>I hope someday to dry this different method; I have two knives made by the old folding, semi-carburizing method that infuses a great deal of carbide and carbon into the steel. One of the blades was imperfect, delaminated in a zone, so I ground the bad area out. The blades are able to take a great deal of bending without breaking, take an edge good enough to dry shave, hold an edge quite well, and have almost no resistance to corrosion. Your method looks like fun.</p><p>Paul</p>
<p>Thank you</p>
Hey bud it's a great looking knife and you did a fine job. I imagine you got the bug now so you'll be making more. Now it's time for you to get some leather and kydex ?

About This Instructable




More by BiscuitMaker:HAND FORGED Cold Chisel, From a Rusty Old Coil Spring Small Pattern Welded "Damascus" Steel Kife (With NO power hammer) Star Trek Pin! from a Nickel and a Copper Pipe 
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