Wat is Damaststaal?

What is Damascus steel?

Damascus steel is a type of steel that consists of several layers of steel that are forged on top of each other. The folded steel can be recognized by its wavy patterns. Damascus steel is also called damask, damascene steel, damask steel or damask steel.

Damascus knives

The steel for Damascus knives originally comes from India and was shipped to the Middle East. Damascus knives and swords were forged from the imported steel from India in the city of Damascus. After that, Damascene merchants traded these Damascus knives and swords in Europe, which is why Damascus steel has become known in Europe.

See below a master blacksmith in action while making a Damascus knife.

Damascus knives named after the city of Damascus?

The fact that Damascus steel and the Damascus knives are named after the city of Damascus in Syria actually sounds quite logical. This is therefore the most accepted theory that Damascus steel is indeed named after the city of Damascus in present-day Syria.

What not everyone knows is that the word "Damask" has another meaning besides the type of steel. Damask is also a weaving technique that was used on silk fabrics from you guessed it Damascus Syria. Just like the steel, the Damask weaving technique is known for its unique patterns.

To make it even more complicated, the word "Damas" means watered in Arabic. Damascus knives and swords were of course known for their flowing water-like patterns.

We are not 100% sure where the name comes from. It is generally agreed that Damascus steel got its name from the city where it was forged and traded.

Why Damascus knives?

Damascus knives and swords used to be forged because of their unique qualities. The aim of making Damascus steel was to make the strongest and most flexible piece of steel possible by forging it several times into a long flat piece and folding it in half. This eventually resulted in a piece of steel that consisted of hundreds of layers of steel.

The hundreds of layers of steel together form the unique pattern of a Damascus knife.

During the making of damask steel, the steel is heated in a fire. The steel absorbs carbon from the fire. Carbon in steel provides the hardness of the steel. By folding the steel each time, the absorbed carbon is completely distributed throughout the entire piece of steel. This has two advantages:

  • The Damask steel is therefore extremely hard
  • Because the carbon is spread throughout the piece of steel, there are no weak spots. The piece of steel is therefore less likely to break or bend.

Damascus steel was already shipped from India to Damascus around AD 300. At that time, the chemical process by which the carbon was incorporated into the steel was unprecedented. For hundreds of years there was no other type of steel that was so flexible and at the same time so hard. Due to its unique properties, a Damascus knife or sword was sharper and also stayed sharp longer.

In addition to the functional properties of Damascus steel, it is especially praised for its unique wave-like patterns. The patterns of Damascus steel are reminiscent of flowing water, clouds or even leaves of a rose.

Are Damascus knives still made the same way?

Damask steel was imported from India to Damascus Syria from the third century to 1700. Damascus steel knives and swords were made there. The original technique used to make Damascus knives was lost in the 19th century. The original type of steel from which Damascus knives and swords were made is called Wootz.

Scientists and blacksmiths have often tried to reproduce the production of Damascus steel as it used to be made. There are smiths that come close to the Damascus steel of ancient times, but the original technique has unfortunately been lost. Today's Damascus steel is no longer made the way it was forged in the past.

Damask steel

Image taken from: wikipedia

Today's Damascus knives are made with a different type of steel. You can read more about this below.

How is damask steel made now?

Fortunately, a master blacksmith from Damascus Syria is no longer needed for a Damascus kitchen knife with beautiful wavy patterns. With contemporary high-quality steels such as VG10, the patterns can be reproduced for unique Damascus knives.

The wave-like patterns can be reproduced in 2 ways with modern steel. This can be done with pattern-welded steel or pattern-printed steel.

Pattern welded steel

Pattern welded steel is the technique used to imitate the process of the original Damascus steel as much as possible. A Damascus knife made of Pattern Welded steel consists of dozens of layers of steel heated together. The name Pattern welded comes from the pattern that is created on the Damascus knife by heating and folding several layers. This is how it is made:

  1. Several layers of iron and steel are heated
  2. The heated layers of steel are forged together
  3. The steel layers are folded
  4. The folded steel is beaten flat with a hammer
  5. The process of folding and hammering flat is repeated until the steel consists of several layers of steel that form the wave-like pattern

How do you make damask steel?

Just like how Damascus steel was originally forged, this precisely distributes the carbon by folding the steel, for a flexible, hard and very sharp Damascus steel blade. Damask steel that is pattern welded usually consists of 67 layers of steel.

The smiths who produce Damascus knives in this way are experts in their field. Years of experience are needed to manufacture a pattern-welded Damascus knife.

For the highest attainable title of the American Bladesmith society, making a Damascus knife is the ultimate test. Under the supervision of a master blacksmith, a Damascus knife must be forged from no fewer than 300 layers of steel.

Printed Damascus steel

Damascus knives with a printed pattern are the most popular because of the affordable price and the preservation of the pattern, which makes Damascus knives unique. Instead of 67 layers of steel with a wavy pattern, only the outer layers of steel have this unique property. Through a chemical process, the outer steel layers obtain a wavy pattern.

The big advantage of this is that this process takes less time and the Damascus knives are more affordable than pattern welded Damascus knives.

Damascus steel knives

A kitchen knife has a blade that is made of a type of steel. For example, a blade can be made of stainless steel or damask steel. A Damascus steel blade is harder than a stainless steel blade, for example. The hardness of a kitchen knife is expressed in HRC ( Hardness Rockwell C scale ). The blade of a Japanese knife is made of damask steel. The hardness of such a blade is often between 58 and 66 HRC. Unlike European knives, the hardness of such a knife is often between 54 and 58 HRC .

A kitchen knife with a Damascus steel blade can be sharpened in a different way due to its high HRC. This blade can be sharpened at a sharper angle than a stainless steel blade, for example. The advantage of a kitchen knife made of damask steel is therefore not only that it is harder, but also sharper. Moreover, a blade made of damask steel stays sharp longer.

A commonly used type of steel for Japanese kitchen knives is VG-10 damst steel. VG-10 stands for V Gold 10. This type of steel is of extremely high quality, hence the name 'Gold' and is produced exclusively in Japan. VG-10 steel has been specially developed for high quality kitchen knives and is often nicknamed 'super steel', because the steel is extremely hard and stays sharp for a long time without becoming brittle.


Buy damask steel knives

Damascus steel is widely used for Japanese kitchen knives. The amount of layers and hardness varies with Japanese kitchen knives. For example, go for a hand-forged high-end chef's knife with 141 layers of wild damask steel and 60 HRC.

High-end Chef's Knife - 60 HRC

High-end Chef's Knife - 60 HRC


You can also opt for a more affordable kitchen knife. At KookGigant there are various Japanese kitchen knives available with a blade made of VG-10 damask steel. For example, choose the popular Japanese kiritsuke knife . Together with the Japanese santoku , the kiritsuke knife is the Japanese version of the European chef's knife. Kiritsuke and Santoku knives are real all-rounders, just like a chef's knife. No cutting task is impossible! Or go for a complete knife set . With a complete knife set from KookGigant you have all the knives you need in one go. View a number of popular knives from KookGiant below.

Kiritsuke knife Damask steel

Kiritsuke knife Damascus steel - 62 HRC - VG-10 Damascus steel


Chef's knife Epoxy Jewels - 63 HRC - VG-10 damask steel


Knife set Hammered Damascus steel - 61 HRC - VG-10 Damascus steel


Useful tips

Damascus steel kitchen knives must be sharpened in a specific way. Do you want to know how to keep your Damascus knives sharp? Then read our handy blog about sharpening knives with a sharpening stone .

Do you want to know which kitchen knives there are and what you can use them for? Then click here .


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