“Damascus Steel”-What is it? “Damascus” Armor

What is damascus steel? There are many examples of pieces claiming to be damascus steel, but that is false. This is not due to some plot to deceive, but it is a mistake made either by ignorance of true damascus, or the person knows, but they continue calling the piece damascus due to conventions.

Now, vague statements aside, this is what we now call Damascus steel:


     Now, whenever one sees this type of pattern, generally on a blade, jewelry, or decorational accents, one generally thinks, “That is some beautiful damascus steel!” This is actually pattern weld! The process is to layer together different types of steel and forge weld them together by heating, folding, hammering, twisting, etc.

     Real Damascus steel is this:


     True damascus steel, more properly known as Wootz, was invented in India during the late Iron Age. During this time, smelters in India were making steel by smelting iron with such a high carbon content that the carbon tended to separate and create carbon banding. Due to the high carbon content, cementite and dendrites form in the steel. When forged and folded, these dendrites and cementite are forged into layers of the blade, causing the grain pattern. The fascinating thing about Wootz is that the wootz sword blades which have been found have been analyzed and found to contain carbon nanotubes and nanofibers! Imagine, nanotech during the Iron Age!

     This being the case, there are many examples of Wootz armor:


     Here we see that Damascus armor exists, but I had an idea. I have never seen Damascus armor that was Pattern Weld. Yes, it seems that the weld joints may be weak points and is no better than modern steel. In fact, modern steel is more pure and stronger, but I would love to make an armor piece or two out of pattern welded steel, just for the artistic beauty of it.

hrisoulas - serpent damascus


4 thoughts on ““Damascus Steel”-What is it? “Damascus” Armor

  1. Hi there! It may be a bit late to comment on a post from 2013, but I just came across this page after looking at the armor in this picture ( http://i.imgur.com/xQ9rBrZ.png ), noticing the pattern welded steel, and wondering if such a thing has been done before in real life, and your page explained nicely!
    Have you actually made any pattern welded pieces of armor after this post?
    From what I’ve seen on your blog so far, I’ll definitely be reading more of it 🙂

    • Sadly, I’ve not gotten to get my forge together and forge any pieces at all since. Alas, busy busy life! I really want to get this blog back on track! I’ve not seen any armor pieces done in pattern weld. In all reality, a good, modern monosteel would be functionally better, but the pattern weld would be beautiful!

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