About Damascus Steel Knives

Damascus Steel KnivesDamascus blend steel is forged from different metals being folded numerous times. Each time the metal is heated then hammer forged as it cools, then reheated and folded in the same manner to obtain multiple layers of molten metal. This is a very labor intensive long slow process, but achieves a very hard blade that shows the hand crafted beauty.

Damascus steel can use different type grades of metal. Our steel if forged out of sheets of grade AISI 1075 and AISI 4340. AISI 1075 is a high carbon steel that contains around 0.75% Carbon. It is widely used to produce various types of springs and cutting tools. AISI 4340 is a low carbon and high nickel steel alloy. It contains 1.65%-2% Nickel, 0.7%-0.9% Chromium and 0.3% – 0.4% Carbon. Each blade is carefully heated to 1560 degree Fahrenheit, where after it is oil quenched and tempered to achieve hardness in the 54-58 Rockwell scale.   The hardness is very good for retaining an edge, but you are still able to sharpen when needed without professional equipment. Never use Tungsten steel draw through wedge to sharpen Damascus steel.   A high grade fine Arkansas stone with honing oil works very well and diamond dust sharpeners can also be used with good results.

Damascus steel is a “high carbon” steel and does require an occasional application of high grade fine oil to preserve and protect the blade. I recommend Pure Coconut Oil, which leaves no petroleum base residue taste. It is inexpensive and does a very fine job of protecting the steel. Also, it is good for coating and softening your leather knife sheath. It is best to not let the blade be in a dry state, as you can’t over coat the blade. And, always keep the oil on metal parts when in areas with high humidity or wet climate.

Like all fine quality knives, with a little simple care and maintenance… Your knife will last for years as a tool with countless uses. All the while retaining its handmade beauty.

Damascus steel has been forged for two thousand years, and its beautiful appearance, combined with impressive functionality make it an excellent choice for upgrading your knife set. Damascus steel requires careful cleaning, but its sharp blade is very resistant to wear and tear. You will still need to sharpen your knives every so often, and the process is quite easy.

Sharpen Your Damascus Blade

  • Hold the ceramic rod in your left hand, if right handed, or your right hand, if you are left handed.
  • Take the blade in your other hand. Hold the blade up to the rod at a twenty degree angle. The blade will only be slightly turned toward the rod.
  • Slowly and with a gentle pressure, move the knife from the bottom of the rod to the top. You don’t need to press very hard. Repeat until the edge of the knife is smooth and sharp.
  • Repeat on the other side of the blade.


In my estimation, Damascus and Carbon steel knives are better than stainless steel knives, but do require a little care. Here are some tips to help you care for your knife.

  • Never store your knives for long periods in the leather sheath. Leather can absorb water, which will rust the knife.
  • After use, wash the blade, dry it, and use Flitz, WD-40, vegetable oil, or Vaseline on the blade to prevent rust. Kitchen knives can be washed and dried without oiling. Carbon steel will change colors with time but will still perform well.
  • Clean the brass and handle metal with Flitz or other brass cleaner. Johnson’s paste wax can be used on the blade handle and sheath to protect it. Birchwood Casey gunstock wax is another alternative for the sheath, metal parts and the knife blade.
  • Damascus is very easy to clean up if rusted but seems to be rust resistant. Sometimes Damascus gets dark with age. To brighten up the blade, sand it lengthwise with a worn piece of 600 grit sand paper. This just hits the raised portions of the etched pattern and makes the blade look brighter.
  • If your sheath gets wet, don’t store the knife in it if you can help it. The hole on the back of most of my sheaths is there to aid in drying by letting air circulate in the inside. If my sheath gets wet and I still need to carry my knife in it, I liberally use WD-40, Vaseline or vegetable oil. Vaseline is handy because you can use it on chapped lips, dry hands, rifles, etc.
  • If your sheath gets all scuffed up you can simply use shoe polish on it or leather dye and then use Johnson’s paste wax or Birchwood Casey gunstock wax. Rubbing the edges with beeswax, then rubbing with a piece of antler, smooth wood, or plastic rod, then buffing with a soft cloth, will restore and shine the edges.


When the Damascus is put into the acid it is sharpened first. After the acid etching the blade is resharpened with 320 grit sanding belt on a 1 x 42 inch belt sander. Then it is sharpened on a 600 to 1100 grit worn belt. The cutting edge is placed so that it is facing the belt – the belt is moving towards the cutting edge. After several passes the blade is stropped on leather, resharpened, stropped again until it has an edge sharper than a scalpel. Stropping breaks off any wire edge that is developed on the edge from the sharpening.

This is the state you should receive your Damascus knife. As the mild steel wears away faster than the other two high carbon components, a miniature saw is created at the cutting edge. After a while the minute saw teeth become misaligned a bit. Now, with two gentle strokes per side on the ceramic rod the knife will be shaving sharp again. This is done by holding the ceramic rod in the left hand. Put the heel, near the guard, of the blade on the rod at about a 20-degree angle. Draw the blade from heel to tip gently and slowly with very little pressure. Do not try to remove metal, just use a light pressure from heel to tip. Do the other side, and then repeat once more.  The edge on your Damascus when you receive it has a uniform angle the whole length of the blade. So sharpening should be easy. If the blade becomes hard to sharpen this angle needs to be reset as I do on belt grinder. I recommend you send me any knife you have bought from me, and  for the cost of postage and I will resharpen it if you are having trouble..

Serrated edges are another story. These should be sharpened on a triangle cross-section set of ceramic rods supplied by Spyderco Company. The knife blade should be held vertically and drawn from heel to tip down the ceramic rod, alternating each side. Each individual serration does not need to be filed or worked with a stone.

Occasionally, the Damascus blade and the brass fittings should be cleaned. To clean the blade use a piece of worn 600 grit sandpaper and sand lightly lengthwise on the blade. This will polish the raised portions of the pattern and make the blade look brighter. I use Flitz metal cleaner on the blade after it is sanded and also on the brass and handle tang metal that is exposed. This cleaner will clean all metals. Any brass cleaner should work on the brass pieces. WD-40, Birchwood Casey gunstock wax, Johnson’s paste wax, Vaseline, or vegetable oil will also work on the blade.

I use Johnson’s paste wax on the leather and wood handles.

When all else fails, or you would prefer, send the knife to me and for cost of postage both ways I will restore your knife to new condition.

If you have a Damascus steel blade knife, you have a knife blade with unique beauty. With its historical reputation as the metal used for the best swords over hundreds of years, and its distinctive wavy design, Damascus steel is a beauty to behold. So with that quality blade–especially one that has intricate etchings–comes special care. Here are our tips on how to care for a Damascus steel knife, in order for it to maintain its beauty and use.

1. Lubricate carbon steel Damascus blades.

The pattern in damascus forged completely through the entirety of the blade. The steel’s unique pattern is only truly revealed with etching in an acid wash. This etching causes the different oxidation levels to show dark (oxidized) and light/shiny patterns on the blade (resisting oxidation).

Most hand forged damascus blades are made of high carbon steel, which means that they have a low amount of chromium in the steel. Carbon steel and carbon steel damascus can rust when not cared for properly. You will need to make sure the blade remains clean and dry in order to prevent rust or discoloration.

After cleaning and drying your knife, you should lubricate it with coconut oil to prevent moisture from affecting the blade for food safety. If your blade is not used for food we recommend Renaissance Wax (an archival-grade museum wax), because it will keep your knife rust-free and maintain its etched beauty.

Damascus blades can also be made of stainless steel. When a knife is made with steel carrying a chromium content of at least 11% it will be mentioned in the product specs as stainless. While stainless damscus steel can resist rust and will take less care, we recommend applying wax to any damascus blade to keep it looking at it’s best.

2. Avoid abrasives.

Avoiding abrasives–rough cloths, metal polishes, steel wool, etc–is important to maintaining the look and quality of the blade, because if you do use an abrasive or metal cleaner it will remove the etched oxidation that you want on a damascus knife. Once the etch is altered, we recommend sending your blade back to the maker for re-etching service.

3. Be mindful of when and where you use your Damascus blade.

A carbon steel damascus blade is especially susceptible to damage when used on acidic foods (fruits, for example), in wet, humid environments, and for field dressing game. These uses and environments can remove the etching of the blade.

When you do use damascus, remember to wash and dry it immediately, taking care to not rub the blade roughly. Using a microfiber or cotton cloth to dry it, a the softer material will not wear the blade.

4. Store it properly to keep it rust-free.

When not in use, it’s important to keep the Damascus steel knife in a dry interior environment, where it will not be affected by extreme moisture or temperature changes. After cleaning and waxing your knife, storing it in a box or padded zipper case, your knife will keep well.

When out in the field with your knife, make sure that you don’t keep it in a wet environment for long periods of time. Don’t store your damacus knife (or any knife for that matter) in a leather sheath – acids and chemicals are used to tan leather and can lead to oxidation over time due to the the normal moisture found in the air.

In addition, keep an eye out for a wet handle: the moisture from the handle can also rust the blade, so keeping the entire knife dry is important. We strongly advise against using a de-humidifier bar if you are storing damascus knives with natural handle materials; especially in a closed safe or storage compartment. Extreme low humidity is a hazard for ANY natural handle material (woods, stag, etc) and will likely cause cracking or separation. Humidity does not affect synthetic handle materials.

By taking good care of your Damascus steel knife, your knife will last longer and maintain its unique look.