Damascus steel is a famous type of steel that is easily recognized by its wavy light-dark metal pattern. This kind of steel is made by repeated forge welding of plates that differ from each other in their chemical composition and, consequently, in color after etching.
It is necessary to take carbon steel and steel with high nickel content (or pure nickel). Damascus steel patterns vary depending on how the craftsman works with the workpiece. Damascus steel is made from several types of steel welded together into a blank.
This steel is known for its exquisite designs and patterns and is often used to make Damascus knives and daggers. It takes the best steel to make them stable and flexible.
Using two alternating types of steel, the blacksmith heats, twists, and stacks layers of metal to create vibrant patterns. Within patterns of Damascus steel, the steel can be shades of white, gray, or black. Experienced blacksmiths can create many patterns while forging. Then the blade must be hardened.
Mosaic Damascus steel is more difficult to manufacture than the usual Damascus.
“Mosaic” steel is also made by forge welding multi-colored steels, and this method is quite ancient. The pattern of a Mosaic Damascus steel piece is obtained by symmetrically arranging blanks from different types of steel. To compile this mosaic, it’s necessary to use plates and specially-made rods of a very complex cross-section. Depending on the specific arrangement of these dissimilar elements, the pattern of a cross-section of a welded patterned block can be quite complex. A simpler pattern is formed when a block of bars and plates of rectangular and cross-sections are assembled.
Good examples are patterns such as “chessboard” and “star”also known as “cross”. Welding such a block is not difficult, so numerous European gun barrel manufacturers use it very often. A “mesh” mosaic has the same level of complexity; it is obtained by welding a briquette of many steel bars of square cross-sections with thin nickel plates laid between them.
It is more laborious to manufacture a block with a complex ornament, such as letters, multi-beam stars, and the like. The original blocks with such patterns can be welded into a monolith, using special mandrels and linings; otherwise, many heterogeneous fibers will spread during forging. Composite steel is made by placing solid and powdered steel in a metal can and fusing them together during forge welding using heat and pressure.
An even more sophisticated technique used by modern craftsmen is the welding of mosaic blocks with realistic images of people and animals. To compile the original package itself, it’s necessary to use bars that contain figure cutouts — which are made via electroerosion. These bars, which serve as matrices, are inserted into the cutout figure inserts made of another, contrasting metal. After carefully welding and forging the original patterned block, the only thing left is to show this intricate pattern—that is, to somehow transfer it to the side surfaces of the knife blade. A sharply heterogeneous, large-patterned mosaic rarely has good cutting properties on its own. To give the knife good cutting properties and wear resistance, it is combined with durable multilayer Damascus. Craftsmen use three main ways to display the mosaic Damascus pattern, resulting in a twisted, unfolded, and end mosaic.
The national hero of France, Pierre Riverdi, did not compete with anyone in accuracy but went his own way by developing a “poetic Damascus.” Using sophisticated technological equipment, he made a blade from a twisted mosaic, on the edge of which many small unicorns were running. It is easy to understand how the individual elements are made, but how the blade itself is welded is a real mystery.
The essence, value, and meaning of the very existence of mosaic Damascus (like any complex Damascus steel) is really the fact that it’s in very scarce supply. That is why mosaic blades are sought-after collectibles. A treasure must have three properties – they should be rare, of high value, and exciting.
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