Video: What is Damascus steel anyway?

Will Wood’s treatise “Ask a Knifemaker: The Truth About Damascus” is our all time most read post with more than 52k views. The topic engenders a great deal of unnecessary controversy, with contrarians calling modern incarnations of pattern-welded steel fraudulent Damascus.

Knifemaker Walter Sorrells sets the record straight in his latest video. In it, Walter discusses the difference in crucible Wootz steel, and “modern” pattern-welded steel. I put modern in quotation marks because the technique for forge-welding steels originated with smiths on the Indian sub-continent in the 1400s. In all cases dating back hundreds of years, pattern-welded steel in cutlery and firearms has been referred to as Damascus steel. “Pattern welding” is a term that is of modern origin and has never been historically used.

Visit Walter’s YouTube Channel. On it he has uploaded a tremendous selection of well-made instructional videos. If you are at all interested in knifemaking, grab some popcorn because you could be watching for  a while.


  1. Sam L. says:

    Tshkaanahkts! (Damascus thanks.)

  2. Jacob Littlehorse says:

    Now we use carbon graphite crucibles. Clay crucibles are inferior for the high melting temperatures of steel not to mention dangerous if they crack.

  3. Laurie Kidd says:

    Steel made or sold at Damascus.

    1. Thomas James says:

      Damascus refers to the pattern of the steel not the place of origin. It comes from the “damask” pattern of cloth, usually silk and matt, woven in a way that looks like what is known as Damaskus Steel.

  4. Mike izatt says:

    Can a pure carbon steel be found on a hunting knife? I’ve heard they hold their edge much better than stainless steel. Also much easier to sharpen.

    1. Thomas James says:

      All steel has carbon added when it is quenched. Trapped carbon hardens the blade. Many different metals can be added including chromium, which is a fairly hard metal, to make stainless steel. Since chromium is had it is sometimes mixed with a softer.steel to sharpen easier.

    2. Thomas James says:

      Do they sharpen easier? Easier than what? Stainless Steel is a mixture of chromium and steel of some kind. Cheap steel is easier sharpening but easier to dull. Most knife makers find their own compromise. So there is no answer to your question. You would have to know the exact qualities of the steel used in your blade.

  5. pxl.Fm says:

    Yes! Finally something about sleep sounds baby.

  6. Steve says:

    Is water used at all in the forging process of making Damascus Steel knives?

    1. Thomas James says:

      I would never say never because all knife makers have their own styles, but I would say almost never. Water cools the steel so quickly that it can easily become brittle and crack. Nobody ways a brittle blade!

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Video: What is Damascus steel anyway?

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