Hand Forged and Damascus Steel
Damascus steel is the technique of folding different grades of steel so that when polished or sharpened a pattern of lines, or more complex shapes is revealed in the metal. The combined metals, provide a level of sharpness and edge retention on the blade which makes it more desirable than just a single steel blade. Typically there are in excess of 50 layers in a folded billet used to make the blade.
Although often used in blades forged in the near east, it takes its name from the Capital of Syria, from which it was most renown. Over the centuries Damascus steel has taken on legendary and mythical properties!
Some of our chef knives take advantage of the Damascus process, They are all made of high grade stainless steel. Typically military or surgical grade. Sometimes this is referred to as VG10, which is a Japanese standard.
It would be remiss of me to not mention that there are excellent other sources of stainless steel, Germany, china and of course Sheffield in England are all renowned for their product.
Most modern steel, including Damascus, is now machine rolled and compressed under very high pressure, creating the billet in a much more efficient way than in history. Even when forged by hand, heavy machinery such as power hammers are used to drive the heavy forge welding process of melding the steel together.
Maybe you are interested in learning to blacksmith, its on my list of things to try. There are several UK forges which run introduction days. A friend of ours runs courses in somerset England, learning with Alex is on my list of things to do. You can find out more about Alex Pole Iron Works here.