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The Damascus Forum The art and study of Damascus steel making.

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  #1  
Old 04-15-2015, 08:11 PM
Reverend Reverend is offline
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Black Damascus?

I've seen a few catalogs selling katanas in "black damascus." From the looks of it, it's not high-end damascus, but it does look very nice. Anyone know how to make damascus black?
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2015, 01:55 PM
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I suspect that the term "Black Damascus" is nothing more then an advertising ploy. Thats not a term you ever hear in the custom knife realm.

There are several ways to achieve a high contrast with damascus steel. Most important is the choice of alloys used to create the damascus, the idea being to utilize different alloys that offer the properties desired in the finished product. With cutlery, based on my point of view, I first want alloys that are going to allow for the end properties that I desire in a cutting tool. Secondary to that would be the use of alloys that when etched, create the greatest contrast.
With cutlery its all about striking a balance....generally you have to give up something, in order to obtain some other characteristic.
For example, with Damascus, the highest contrast is going to come from using pure nickel in the damascus....it creates outstanding contrast, but the trade-off is that nickel is not hardenable...which means by using it, the cutting ability of a finished blade is degraded. On the other side of that is would be using alloys that offer better hardenability, but may not offer high contrast in the finished blade.

The most common alloys used by Bladesmiths in the U.S. at the current time is 1080/1084, and 15N20. These alloys are both hardenable, and a 1.5% nickel content in the 15N20 produces "good" contrast when etched.

There are also post etch procedures that can be accomplished to increase the contrast of damascus, such as bluing, and lacquer coats.


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Old 04-21-2015, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Caffrey View Post
I suspect that the term "Black Damascus" is nothing more then an advertising ploy. Thats not a term you ever hear in the custom knife realm.

There are several ways to achieve a high contrast with damascus steel. Most important is the choice of alloys used to create the damascus, the idea being to utilize different alloys that offer the properties desired in the finished product. With cutlery, based on my point of view, I first want alloys that are going to allow for the end properties that I desire in a cutting tool. Secondary to that would be the use of alloys that when etched, create the greatest contrast.
With cutlery its all about striking a balance....generally you have to give up something, in order to obtain some other characteristic.
For example, with Damascus, the highest contrast is going to come from using pure nickel in the damascus....it creates outstanding contrast, but the trade-off is that nickel is not hardenable...which means by using it, the cutting ability of a finished blade is degraded. On the other side of that is would be using alloys that offer better hardenability, but may not offer high contrast in the finished blade.

The most common alloys used by Bladesmiths in the U.S. at the current time is 1080/1084, and 15N20. These alloys are both hardenable, and a 1.5% nickel content in the 15N20 produces "good" contrast when etched.

There are also post etch procedures that can be accomplished to increase the contrast of damascus, such as bluing, and lacquer coats.
Thank you sir. I have looked for pics of damascus that has been hot blued, but have been unable to find any. Does the bluing allow the contrast of the steel to show through or does it cover it up completely?
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:26 AM
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Bluing has "trade-offs" too. One of those is the TYPE of bluing method used. "Hot" bluing has the problem the high heat wrecking the heat treat of a blade. Cold bluing often produces "blotchy" results on a blade.

The method I use most often to increase contrast is Baking Lacquer.... I etch a blade until I can feel the topography with a finger tip. Clean the blade well with #0000 steel wool and soapy water, then clean again with acetone. I use a gloss black baking lacquer, and air brush it on the blade. Bake the lacquer on, then afterward, when the blade has cooled, I use a hard, flat sanding stick, and 600 grit paper to LIGHTLY sand the blade, taking the baking lacquer off the high areas of the topography, then follow that up with 1200 grit. What results is that the black baking lacquer stays in the low areas of the topgraphy, and the high areas are bright silver.
The best way to learn what works best for you is to just experiment. It takes time and effort, but from my perspective its time well spent.


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Old 04-24-2015, 12:51 PM
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Wow, this is great information. Thank you very much for taking the time to write this.
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Old 04-26-2015, 11:15 PM
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Some guys from Europe etch first the regular way with FeCl, vinegar or whatever, polish and then do a family long final "etch" with cold instant coffee to darken things up a bit.


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Old 04-28-2015, 08:59 AM
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Some guys from Europe etch first the regular way with FeCl, vinegar or whatever, polish and then do a family long final "etch" with cold instant coffee to darken things up a bit.
Cold instant coffee??
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Old 05-03-2015, 02:38 AM
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Cold instant coffee??
Yep. Nescafe to be precise. Not only a mild acid but it stains stuff too. Apparently you let it soak and then polish off the shiny ridges just like you normally would, but perhaps not quite so aggressively.


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Old 05-11-2015, 07:54 PM
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I've heard that tobacco juice will also induce a stain on blade steel. From what I understand, the juice is made by soaking pipe tobacco in denatured alcohol for a couple days, then let the blade soak in the "slurry" for a few hours.
I assume it should be made in a container large enough to immerse the entire working end of the knife in it.

I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but plan in doing so in the near future. May be on a 3 inch blade I am currently working on.
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  #10  
Old 10-09-2017, 02:26 PM
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Saw this write on high contrast dark Damascus:
https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/...y-step.737086/
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  #11  
Old 10-10-2017, 02:19 AM
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This convo was about a month after you joined, in 2015!!!
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