good vs bad damascus


February 8, 2014, 08:15 PM
What is the difference between really cheap damascus (like fox n hound) and really expensive damascus?

Aside from price, how can a person tell what is "good"?

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February 8, 2014, 08:25 PM
I couldn't afford to pay what the top makers wanted for damascus so I went to ebay and bought from Alabama Damascus. Not too expensive and seemed good when I used it.

February 9, 2014, 08:39 AM
What is the difference between really cheap damascus (like fox n hound) and really expensive damascus?

Do you mean the steel itself or a cheap damascus knife like Fox n Hound "brand"? Take a look at these AND!/page5?highlight=fox+hound

If the knife, it will be the quality of construction and the materials. I've read complaints about fit and finish, glued guards/bolsters/butts and poor heat treat/temper (too soft/too hard) in the FnH and other Pakistani damascus knives. I've also seen these in plenty of the knives from Pakistan (although I have not seen the Mables or FnH knives). I've seen poor rat tail tangs that were more stub than tang with the "tang" seen being an add on and dead soft or too brittle. The patterns of damascus tend to be broad and dark as well and that doesn't bode well for the forging.

If you're referring to the steel, the quality of the different steels is an important factor, the quality of lamination/forge welding (flux, temp, care taken, oxygen, time in the forge, ...) and whether there are contaminants, voids, or delamination of the damascus, the surface grind after forging, etc. You look at a lot of these knives and compare them to recognized quality makers and in detail you begin to notice the poor welding of lamination and the presence of voids (small and large).

Alabama Forge makes good damascus, good, not great, but they produce a good consistent product that is made of the steels they say are in the layers and the patterns are as shown/advertised. I had a BIG piece that was used in a set and the second blade was in the final stages (rough polish) and a big void popped out. At that point there might have been an option to surface grind and repolish to get past it, but the boys just provided another billet with a second for the trouble and a heartfelt apology.

OTOH, it is possible that good pattern welded damascus knives can come out of Pakistan (I've seen a few), but someone has to kiss a lot of frogs before they find a prince making it.

I'd rather buy an inexpensive Bear and Sons that I know uses good damascus than something that I couldn't inspect myself with an informed and critical eye. OR you could take a swing and buy blades and finish them yourself from reliable knifemaker supply operations and get a good quality damascus that you can personalize.

Carl Levitian
February 9, 2014, 11:44 AM
I don't know good damascus from bad damascus, and always stayed away from the stuff, thinking it was just tinsel to charge more for a blade. I think I was wrong.

About three years ago, I was gifted a Case Peanut with damascus blades supposed to made by Devon Thomas. The person gifting it to me, knew that I loved Case, and preferred a small jack for edc use. In the past three years I've come to have a feeling that it just may be worth the added price.

Now, like I said, I never had a damascus knife, so I had no mile stone to go by. BUt so far I think it's weird stuff. But weird in a good way. If Mr. Thomas is any guide, I now know what you get with a good damascus. It cuts great, but toothy. When I sharpen it, it gets a wicked, grabby kind of edge, and holds it for a very good amount of time. Even when it's lost it's razor edge, and own't shave arm hair anymore or cut news print, it will still go though fibrous materials like rope and twine. If I continue to use it without sharpening, it will still saw through material and still has a toothy feel to the edge. Weird.

Having a couple of other Case peanuts to com are it to, one in CV and the other in Case's stainless that they call true sharp, it easily out perfumes both. Down side is, it's weird to resharpen. It seems a bit gummy on the stone, and stropping the burr off seems to take a bit longer.

But now that I've had a damascus knife, I'd buy another. I still don't know how to tell the good stuff from the bad, but I guess if you buy Devon Thomas or other known knife smith, it's a fairly safe bet. Besides, I like the raindrop pattern. The other benefit of carrying a pretty pocket knife is, even 'downtown' in Washington D.C., it doesn't get any bad looks or comments.

Mikee Loxxer
February 11, 2014, 12:43 AM
That is a very nice Case Peanut Carl, I am jealous.

February 13, 2014, 11:01 PM
I have been looking into Damascus types. It seems the three biggest drivers on good vs. bad Damascus is #1. what steel is used in the laminate (fox-n-hound uses 440A for some of their layers). #2. the number of layers in the laminate and finally, of course, heat treatment. It will take a lot more research before I feel competent in the metallurgy here.

HSO brings up a good point that the quality of the knife is highly dependent on more than just the steel (locks, bearings, etc.). Part of the reason I started this thread is because I have had an idea and itch for scales for a Damascus folder. I would like the blade to be, but I want to spend <$100 total (including scale material). Can anyone comment on the quality of these knife kits? I really don't want this to turn into a knife-making project and really only care about customizing the scales. That said, I don't want to spend the time to put cool scales on a piece-of-doo knife.

February 13, 2014, 11:33 PM
I like the Mustang kit if only because the bolsters are damascus also. Pair that kit with the pre-cut black G10 handle material and that would be a sweet looking knife.

As for the actual quality of the knife or the blade, I suspect it is not that great but I could be wrong. It'd be fun to put together either way so I probably go for it.

February 14, 2014, 02:36 PM provides a quality product that you can trust.

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