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Advantage of Damascus

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  • #52857
    Michael Blakley
    Participant
    • Topics: 27
    • Replies: 26

    I saw an advertisement for a Damascus blade with 67 layers.

    My brain went, 67?  67 is a prime number.  Do way is that a Damascus.  Well, it is.  66 layers in a traditional Damascus format then they sandwich 1 layer of metal at the last, in the middle of the san mai.

    My question, “Is the Damascus simply for ascetics since the middle layer is the only piece that will ever be sharpened?

    Michael

    #52858
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2079

    I asked essentially this same question from another knife forum about 4 or 5 years ago.  The immediate answers I got from them was, “it’s not real Damascus Steel!

    I wasn’t asking if modern multi-layered damascus steel knives were made from ancient wootz steel with authentic methods like swords made in 13th century Persia.  Simply, if Damascus Steel knives were any better or different then single steel knives, and, if more layered Damascus Knives were better then those made with less layered Damascus Steels?

    No one every answered my question.  That forum got lost in their cross discussion to educate me what modern damascus steel wasn’t….

    I bought that Damascus steel knife I was interested in, back then, and a few more since that time.

    Here’s what I can share.  The knife’s shape, that is it’s profile and the thinness of the blade overall and of the cutting edge, contributes more to the knife’s cutting and slicing ability, then anything else.  The steel hardness contributes to the knife edge’s durability and longevity.  Damascus layered knives can add to the longevity and durability, depending on the steels used and the quality of the damascus forging, along with contributing to the aesthetics of the knife.

    More layered Damascus steel knives are in my experience, heavier, and stiffer knives and usually thicker profiled then less layered Damascus steel knives.  The hardness of the cutting edge, the center sandwiched layer, determines the hardness, durability and longevity characteristics of the knife, as a whole.  My favorite damascus layered knives are those made with fewer layers, then with more layers.  They can have a nice balance of lightness, edge profile, flexibilty and aesthetics, all in one.  I cannot say the damascus layers contributes anything more to the knife then the aesthetics compared to a single steel knife or a clad steel knife.

    The damascus layers are very very thin.  These thin layers are sharpened along with the single center steel layer as though it’s one piece of solid steel, like any other knife.  It’s not like you can tell that your sharpening the middle layer, the harder cutting layer, instead of the softer steel sandwiched outer layers.

     

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #52861
    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 929

    I agree with everything in Marc’s post. Modern Damascus style knives are made mostly for the beauty of the patterns and the bragging rights of having X number of layers. Ultimately, a three layer san mai constructed knife is not really much different to a 67 layer Damascus style knife.

    If the inner core of your knife is a reactive steel then the cladding layers can help make the knife easier to maintain since there will be less surface area exposed to the elements (assuming the cladding is stainless). The cladding layers also supposedly make a knife more durable since they are usually much softer than the high hardness and brittle core steel.

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    #52865
    tcmeyer
    Participant
    • Topics: 36
    • Replies: 1924

    I’ve got the 67-layer Damascus Zhen chef’s knife.  If the one you’re looking at is the same as mine, which I bought as a full-tang unfinished blade from Woodcraft, it uses VG-10 for the center lamination.  I see that now they sell them as finished blades.  Of all the knives in my kitchen knife drawer, it’s the one I use the most.  I’ve been thinking about buying their Nakiri, as their kitchen knives are on sale right now.  Half price.

    If you’re considering buying one, I’ll add that they have a very thin blade (makes for excellent cutting performance), sharpen easily and stand up well to the occasional abuse inflicted by my wife, who can’t seem to remember the few basic rules of knife care.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by tcmeyer.
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    #52867
    Lay
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 24

    I have been drooling the Shun Premier Tim Mälzer Series knives for a long time. Some day maybe…

    Anyone have any experience sharpening those? They recommend sharpening with whetstones.

    Would the hammered surface or a thin 61 HRC edge be a problem with WE?

    #52869
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 59
    • Replies: 2079

    Lay, just about any knife that can be clamped in a W.E. vise can be sharpened with the W.E. Sharpener.  The question really is are the standard included W.E. diamond sharpening stones the best suited sharpening stones for that particular steel.  These knives appear to be made of VG-10 steel hardened to HRc 61, what Shun regularly calls their “VGmax” steel.  I have sharpened my Shun Premier Classic VGmax Santoku many times with the W.E. diamond stones and it worked quite well.  My experience has been the Shun knives are sharpened to 16 DPS bevel angles.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-It)

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    #52870
    Lay
    Participant
    • Topics: 1
    • Replies: 24

    Thank you Marc for the information. I might buy one knife and try it out before buying several…

    #52877
    Tommie
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
    • Replies: 29

    Lay, the Shun Premier line is very nice. I sharpened my sister-in-laws Shun Premier knives on my WE with no problems at all. Like Marc said, they are 16 DPS bevel angles.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Tommie.
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    #52879
    Michael Blakley
    Participant
    • Topics: 27
    • Replies: 26

    I restored an 8 inch Premier Shun a few months ago.  the tip was broken off, almost a half inch missing.

    The blade was bent.  The owner said it got caught between the drawer front the the cabinet when he shoved the drawer shut.

    It took a lot of slow pressure, some mallet hammering and a lot of patience to straighten the blade. Then I traced the tip of a Shun that was intact, ground the 8 inch into a 7 1/2 inch blade then sharpened it.  Tried to buy it from the owner, but no dice.

    Michael

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    #52888
    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 7
    • Replies: 131

    Since you guys are talking kitchen knives, take a look at chef knives to go (.) com if you haven’t already. They have a selection of japanese knives that make my wallet cry and my wife threaten me with the couch on the porch (it’s bloody bold at night).

    As for damascus blades, I remember reading somewhere that a damascus blade will stay sharper longer because of the minute particles breaking off while in use creating a toothiness  that keeps going for a long time. That wouldn’t apply to the san mai blades where a different steel is at the core, forming the edge of the blade.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #52889
    Organic
    Participant
    • Topics: 17
    • Replies: 929

    The core steel on most modern Damascus style blades are a single steel type. The layers are wrapped around that core sheet of steel and do not become part of the cutting edge.

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