Making a folder out of wootz/true damascus


February 6, 2008, 05:52 PM
After a year and a half of waiting, I finely got a piece of Wootz steel from my maker of choice. They have a forum of their own and it's members are working with me on making this knife but I could still use all the help I can get. I am pretty much squared away on blade design. It is the handle that I am concerned about. I want it to be a lock knife (operable by one hand) but I have issues with the blade coming loose after allot of use so I want to make something that won't have to be tightened all the time. I realize that it's impossible to come up with something that never has to be tightened bot I would like your ideas on metal and design best fit for holding up. Thanks.

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Il Duca
February 7, 2008, 12:21 AM
I can't offer much help on the matter because I'm still learning myself. But check out they have a couple great knife forums I've really learned alot from.

February 7, 2008, 01:57 AM
You need to decide what sort of locking mechanism you want to use and then start reading up on how they're made. -

If you've never made a locking folder from "plain" steel you should cut your teeth of a couple of those before you risk a nice piece of Wootz learning. At least that way you can make your mistakes without the constant thought of "where am I going to get another piece of this" on your mind. Try cutting the various patterns out in foam core or plastic then aluminum since they're easy to work and cheap. Then graduate to steel. Once you know you have something that works for you you'll be much more comfortable putting your Wootz to use.

Then you should head over to Bladeforums and Knifeforum and talk to the makers there.

After that, practice knives and finally your Wootz.

February 7, 2008, 03:48 AM
Well, I am already a regular on a bladesmithing forum and have dozens of knives and swords under my belt already. I am totally comfortable in making whatever. The question is what's going to be the best choice of design for what I want to accomplish. The issue here is that there are variations that I am not yet familiar with as well as ideas, and I am not about to try carrying each one of them around for a half a year each to figure out which is best for the job, especially when I will have come up with 4 or 5 more pieces of Wootz by then. All I am looking at is something that can be opened and closed with one hand (a lock knife) and the most durable/long lasting mechanics.

February 7, 2008, 04:26 AM
Huh. Up until this thread, I had never even heard of Wootz steel. It's 2:30 in the morning and I have learned my first new thing for the day. Cool.

February 7, 2008, 03:11 PM

Wootz is a very high carbon high purity crucible steel that forms a notable pattern. It is probably the earliest form of quality carbon steel and Wootz smelters/foundries dating back to 200 AD can be found in IndoPersia.

February 8, 2008, 08:22 AM
Yeah, but the stuff I got is actually not classic wootz. It's a modern production of Damascus steel, which is basically an enhanced variation of wootz.
This stuff has a few major advantages. One is the mixture of a high-carbon steel of around mid-late 50s RC and ultra hard (1.9% carbon) micro fibers in the mid 70s RC. Though the steel it's self punches out around 57-60 RC in the tester, effectively, it can have the wear and impact resistance equal to around 70RC, and the metal is so flexible that some people have been able to bend one tip of a sword to touch it's heel and then flop right back in to position or most of it's original position.
I have never been able to figure out exactly what the true ingredients are that separate Damascus from Wootz though it seams pretty clear that they are 2 different metals with 2 different sets of ingredients. I think Damascus has only 1 or 2 things in it that make it superior to Wootz.
Another less known about advantage that wootz and damascus have over other metals is that what little truth there is to the "micro serrates on folded steel" myth pertains to wootz and damascus, which is that when the micro serrates wear away (all cutting edges have micro serrates) they are replaced by another layer created by the microscopic mixture of the steel and micro fibers wearing away unevenly.
To my knowledge, there are only a dozen or so wootz steel makers in the world, and that includes the one or two people alive who have true damascus figured out. The only one I know won't sell to anyone he doesn't know, and I have been waiting a LONG time to get a piece from him even though I have been on his OK list for almost 2 years now. That's the sad part about true Damascus. It can be extremely hard to get even when you have plenty of money.

February 8, 2008, 09:20 AM
So is this a pattern welded steel with a wootz-like pattern or a damascus that's being called a wootz?

February 9, 2008, 04:03 AM
Pattern weld steel is referred to as Damascus because it's pattern use to get it mistaken for Damascus. Damascus steel is a variation of wootz. It has some extra goodies in it and is a little tougher but roughly the same stuff.

My piece is one of those modern reproductions. From what I have read and learned through brain picking metallurgists, the piece I ordered has the same look, material and mechanical properties as historical damascus but looks slightly different under a microscope. It is supposedly tougher then historical damascus but that is due to modern heat/cyro treating processes.

February 26, 2008, 07:44 AM
I am going to start making the knife on Friday. I am using steel, aluminum and cocobolo for construction and I would like to put some ivory inlay if I can find any of my piano key covers that I have buried somewhere.
I am using dovetailing and smooth, precise construction, so it'll probably look like an elvin folder out of a Lord of the Rings movie.

Wootz is a very high carbon high purity crucible steel that forms a notable pattern.

Actually at first sight, my piece just looks like a rough polish. You would have to look very closley at it to see the pattern. Then again, I just polished one area of the barstock on a wheel. I would guess that when the beveling is done, the pattern will become more apparent. Unlike pattern weld steel, which displays 2 different colors of metal, the pattern in true Damascus is found in the texture of the metal. The pattern is also far more intricate then in pattern welded steel. Like I said, you have to look closley at it to see that it's a pattern and not just a roughness in the metal. The pattern sort of reminds me of the common crystallized frost pattern found on your car windshield in a cold winter morning. The maker I got it from has found a way to control the pattern to some extent and judging by picture references, it looks like a Celtic knot pattern.

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