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The History of Powder Metals in Damascus Steel

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Larrin, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Through interviews with 15+ knifemakers and Damascus steel producers I was able to put together a history of the introduction of powder metals to pattern-welded Damascus steel. This was a particularly influential period in terms of mosaic Damascus pattern development and it was fun to talk to these legendary Damascus makers about the process of pushing the envelope with new techniques. https://knifesteelnerds.com/2019/08/19/the-history-of-powder-metals-in-damascus-steel/
  2. Lotmom

    Lotmom Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 21, 2016
    Awesome! Gonna read right now

    Just finished the read! Great article!
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
    Larrin likes this.
  3. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    Well I wish you'd written that last winter.
  4. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    What happened last winter?
  5. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Larrin - you've outdone yourself AGAIN! with this article. I found it VERY good reading. Thank you again for all the GREAT articles you put out for use mere mortals.
    Larrin likes this.
  6. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    I tried my best to find a pre-existing example of the method I used to make this:


    I couldn't find any reference to the use of laser cutting and filling with powder that apparently Matt Diskin pioneered. Only the various forms of "mosaic building" using solids in powder cans. So I made the tentative claim to have come up with a novel idea. Which makes me feel like shit. I should have known, nothing new under the sun. I suppose I didn't do exactly what he did, though stacking up a bar of cut outs did occur to me and I made some test pieces of that.

    This is one reason I really appreciate your "knife history" articles even if the primary purpose of your blog is steel/performance. There are very few indexed sources of historical precedence when it comes to this stuff. If you weren't "there" or knew someone who was, outside of a couple key things mentioned often in various articles across the web like Moran starting the damascus trend or whatever, the history is kind of lost.
    Ken H>, DevinT, Tin.Man and 1 other person like this.
  7. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    The history parts of my articles have taken by far the most time and have been the most difficult to research. Very little is recorded and much is lost. I've enjoyed it though.
    Pinoy Knife likes this.
  8. A.McPherson

    A.McPherson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 27, 2012
    Interesting stuff Larrin, I really wasn’t aware that some folks had advanced the craft so far!! Some of those “picture” damascus patterns are astonishing!
    Larrin likes this.
  9. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    John, that is one IMPRESSIVE Bowie - and great work on the patterned Damascus. You're one of the Masters.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  10. Nick Dunham

    Nick Dunham

    Feb 15, 2018
    Larrin, thanks for sharing. I've specifically been slowly trying to learn about the history of powder Damascus lately. Steve Schwarzer's article in Knives 2019 is on reading list.

    I've also been looking for similar industrial & academic efforts - particularly hot working powder in a canister (vs HIP or conventional press and sinter). My intent was to look for research or technical information that could be applied to canister Damascus.

    I found a 1949 report by James R. Long and Earl T. Hayes for the Bureau of Mines titled "Sheath Working of Metal Powders". This deals mainly with hot rolling titanium powder inside an iron canister. The article cites related work dating back to 1798, but appears to be the first to take advantage of the sheath's protective effect while aiming for compaction.
  11. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Powder metallurgy for producing parts close to final shape has been around for quite some time. Longer than PM steels have been around.
  12. Jason Volkert

    Jason Volkert KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 25, 2018
    Cool stuff Larrin!!
    Larrin likes this.
  13. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

    Feb 24, 2000
    As always, Thanks!
    Larrin likes this.
  14. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    8D399B04-6578-46A6-9668-CE812AA4242C.jpeg Great article. Here is picture of a Wootz Damascus blade smelted and forged by Al Pendray. I think it needs to be reetched.
  15. PEU

    PEU Gaucho Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 6, 2006
    Thanks for the article Larrin!!

    I always wondered about the quality of steel made this ways, to be precise, its powdered steel density vs the density of the solid steel in the pattern. Did you made tests in this regard?

  16. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Because it is forged with significant reduction the steel will be 100% dense or something very close to it. I would be more concerned about oxides.
  17. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Another great read. Thanks Larrin!
    Larrin likes this.

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