If you haven’t heard of Damascus Steel, here’s a good primer. In short, it’s a style of metallurgy with origins in Damascus (now modern Syria) that’s characterized by a beautifully marbled design made by forging two metals together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Typically, as its name suggests… Damascus Steel is made from different types of steel (with different properties), although fold a little copper in and you’ve got something that looks even more amazing!
The video above captures the behind-the-scenes as Denis Tyrell, a Californian bladesmith, forges his Copper Damascus Bowie Knife. An interesting factoid about Damascus metals is that the true art of making this marbled metal was lost to history. Over the years, people began experimenting with different forging techniques to recreate the metal, and although there’s no way of knowing if any of those processes are authentic, the term Damascus Steel is loosely used to describe the metal. In this video, Tyrell forms a billet using Damascus Steel procured from fellow YouTuber Salem Straub. He proceeds to create a billet by sandwiching different sheets of metal together and welding their edges. The billet uses two Damascus plates, two copper plates, two 15N20 nickel steel plates, and a 1095 steel core right in the center of the metal ‘sandwich’.
Once forged in his kiln, Tyrell proceeds to cut out the knife’s profile and finish it off by grinding, sanding, etching, and polishing the blade. Once the blade’s ready, he carves the ornate handle out of different materials, using copper, mammoth molar, and an epoxy block from Oleg Bashkevich, known for making resin blocks for knife-handles. The resulting knife is an absolute beauty. The copper ‘scar’ running across the Bowie knife feels just perfect, as it almost resembles the lightning bolt running down David Bowie’s face in his album Aladdin Sane. I’m pretty sure that’s entirely coincidental, though! Tyrell alternates between selling his pieces either on Etsy or off his Instagram page. Sadly, this one already got snapped up by an eager buyer, but I’m keeping an eye out for his next piece!
Designer: Tyrell Knifeworks