Thursday, 14 February 2013

Damascus Steel

In January Blackheath Scientific Society welcomed as their speaker Mr Bush, who is a sword smith with workshops in Welling, Kent, and who also does general blacksmithying.

The following is an account of the meeting - but Mr Bush is returning to the Soceity for a more detailed illustrated talk on 17th January 2014. This will be at Mycenae House Community Centre,  90 Mycenae Road, Blackheath, SE3 7SE - at 7.45 so please go along and support them. This really is an interesting local industry

Mr Bush brought an impressive array of swords and a knife he had made, and used them to give us an introduction to the subject.

Damascus Steel is an intimate combination of iron with a high carbon content (steel) & a low carbon iron; the former can be sharpened to an edge but is brittle, while the latter is malleable.  A skilled sword smith can use it to get a good edge on a robust sword.

“Damascus” relates to that city being the early medieval trading centre for such swords.  Swords traded through Damascus could have been made there, or come from Persia or India – the process, where iron & steel are melted in a crucible, probably originated in India, but its intricacies have been lost.

The surface of Damascus Steel has a characteristic watery pattern.

Later the Scandinavians developed a “pattern welding” process: forging heated bars of each metal together by hammering them down to a thin sheet, then folding the sheet and hammering the two sides together, and repeating several times.  This process is still used, and is the one Mr Bush has been using.

and thanks to Richard Buchanan for permission to use his text

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