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A little bit on the subject ... nobody knows how to REALLY make Damascus or Wootz steel. It is a lost art, but the term is being utilized to reference the practice of drawing out layered blades by folding the steel. Considered to be an approximated "reverse engineering", but still not the real thing.
A very interesting subject that includes reorganization of molecular structure during the process to yield different areas of the blade with different properties of hardness/brittleness for it strength/edge characteristics.
Bob's image is excellent to draw us to the hands that are crafting such fine work, Would love to see corresponding image that draws us to the work (reversed message) @ this is what was made in concert with Bob's, these are the hands it takes to make it.
A couple of excerpts:
Since the well-known technique of pattern welding produced surface patterns similar to those found on Damascus blades, some blacksmiths were erroneously led to believe that Damascus blades were made using this technique, but today, the difference between wootz steel and pattern welding is fully documented and well understood. Pattern-welded steel has been referred to as "Damascus steel" since 1973 when Bladesmith William F. Moran unveiled his "Damascus knives" at the Knifemakers' Guild Show.
This "Modern Damascus" is made from several types of steel and iron slices welded together to form a billet, and currently the term "damascus" (although technically incorrect) is widely accepted to describe modern pattern welded steel blades in the trade . The patterns vary depending on how the smith works the billet. The billet is drawn out and folded until the desired number of layers are formed. In order to attain a Master Smith rating with the American Bladesmith Society that Moran founded, the smith must forge a damascus blade with a minimum of 300 layers.
When last visiting (April 19, 1876) the Mahabaleshwar Hills near Bombay, I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Joyner, C.E., and with his assistance made personal inquiries into the process. The whole of the Sayhddri range (Western Ghats), and especially the great-Might-of-Shiva mountains, had for many ages supplied Persia with the best steel. Our Government, since 1866, forbade the industry, as it threatened the highlands with disforesting. The ore was worked by the Hill-tribes, of whom the principal are the Dhdnwars, Dravidians now speaking Hindustani. Only the brickwork of their many raised furnaces remained. For fuel they preferred the Jumbul-wood, and the Anjan or iron-wood. They packed the iron and fourteen pounds of charcoal in layers and, after two hours of bellows-working, the metal flowed into the forms. The Kurs' (bloom), five inches in diameter by two and a half deep, was then beaten into tiles or plates. The matrix resembled the Brazilian, a poor yellow-brown limonite striping the mud-coloured clay; and actual testing disproved the common idea that the "watering" of the surface is found in the metal. The Jauhar, ("jewel" or ribboning) of the so-called Damascus blade was produced artificially, mostly by drawing out the steel into thin ribbons which were piled and welded by the hammer. Oral tradition in India maintains that a small piece of either white or black hematite (or old wootz) had to be included in each melt, and that a minimum of these elements must be present in the steel for the proper segregation of the micro carbides to take place.