The Mystery of Damascus Steel
Damascus original

What is an age-old knife technology doing on a site called Touch of Modern? If you’re familiar with Damascus steel, you already understand — in the hundreds of years since they were invented, modern knives have hardly come close. Originally used in sword making and named for Syria's capital city, Damascus steel is known for its unique wavy appearance, in which you can see the lines that represent the steel being worked. The original method of crafted Damascus steel was lost in the 16th century, and modern knife makers have spent their careers creating their own approach to creating it.

The modern Western way of creating Damascus steel is also called pattern-welded steel, made by layering multiple steel and sometimes iron elements, forging them together by hammering it at a high temperature. While the surface starts out at a molten state, with skillful working, the end result is more strongly bound than regular steel — and much more beautiful. This hammered method creates multiple layers, strengthening it and creating a gorgeous texture that sets this steel all the way apart.

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For knife collectors, quality Damascus is always an exciting find because these gorgeous blades are unparalleled in appearance. However,cheap imitation Damascus steel from overseas have flooded the market, creating knockoffs by adding the trademark waves superficially, essentially just dressing up cheap steel. Touch of Modern sorts through the multitude of makers, finding the knife makers whose commitment to their craft is upheld in the quality of their work. We feature these makers, proud to know that we’re spotlighting an art form with a foundation that reaches back centuries in time.