DAMASCUS STEEL by HandForge
What does Hand Forge mean?
Hand-forged products are original hand-wrought pieces, made of red-hot metal shaped on the anvil. The metal is shaped like clay using a variety of hammers, chisels, punches and drifts. Traditional blacksmiths often centered the name of their ‘smithies’ around the center of the blacksmith’s trade: the forge, a white-hot fire whose temperature can reach as high as 2200 degrees. I call my smithy Hand Forge because it’s a place where I challenge myself to be creative with the most basic, ancient materials of my craft: the forge, hammer, and anvil, and my two hands.
What is Mokume Gane?
Mokume Gane is a decorative laminated material developed in 17th century Japan. It is made by bonding many layers of varying non-ferrous metals together to make a “wood-grain metal.” I make all of the Mokume Gane for my designs, with copper and brass sheet using the traditional fusion bonding method.
What is damascus steel?
Damascus steel is a beautiful material made up of hundreds of layers of different steel alloys, bonded (or forge-welded) together. It is typically made from scratch using a variety of high carbon tool steels. Because of its high-carbon content, it can be hardened and used for making strong precision tools like knives and chisels.
Why should I choose damascus for my wedding band?
Damascus is known for its durability, and for this reason I began using it in wedding bands and other jewelry pieces. Damascus is a superior choice for people who want a band that will stand up to the test of time, especially people who work with their hands. Its composition (see below) ensures that your rings will have a unique pattern. A set of rings can be carved from the same piece of damascus, and shaped to each person’s ring size, making damascus an apt choice for symbolizing the unity of the couple.
It’s also an affordable, sustainable alternative to traditional silver, gold, and diamonds. Steel is an abundant, inexpensive material. Whenever possible, I incorporate reclaimed steel into the damascus I use in Hand Forge rings, knives, and jewelry.
How do I care for my new Hand Forge ring?
The best way to enjoy continued beauty from your piece is simply to wear it. Your skin’s natural oils help keep the piece of jewelry free from tarnish. If you choose to store your jewelry between uses, chose a dry location—not the bathroom or other humid environment! If your ring does rust, you may return it for complimentary polishing.
How is damascus made?
I make all the damascus for my Hand Forge knives and jewelry, using 1095 spring steel, O-1 oil hardening tool steel and 15N20, a tarnish-resistant steel alloyed with nickel.
Damascus can be made with almost any combination of steels: used leaf springs, chainsaw bars, or saw blades, chainsaw or motorcycle chains, or cable. The process begins with the layering of many strips of steel, stacked in a lasagna fashion. The stack is forge-heated up to 2000+ degrees Fahrenheit, then gently hammered to bond all of the layers together at once. This is original welding done without the aid of a machine or filler metal. The steel is simply bonded though heat and pressure.
The initial billet may only have ten to twenty layers of steel. In order to make a more striking pattern, the layer count must be increased. To do this, the billet is drawn out thinner and folded back onto itself. It can then be cut, restacked and re-welded, until the finished billet contains over 100 layers of steel. The raw material can now be turned into nearly anything.
Damascus steel’s characteristic wood-grain or water-mark pattern is revealed during the very last step of the process, when the finely polished piece is etched in acid. Every piece of damascus steel is wholly unique, due to the many variables involved in its composition.