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damascus steel vs. carbon steel

Discussion in 'Knives' started by chico13, Sep 15, 2009.

    chico13 Loaded Pockets

    ok heres the question what steel is stronger damascus steel or carbon steel iv been looking around and it seems like damascus steel a stronger and holds a better edge but i dont know

    jzmtl Loaded Pockets

    Damascus is not a steel, it's a combination of two type of different steels which can be carbon or stainless, or even other non-steel metal.

    chico13 Loaded Pockets

    ok but wich one can be made stronger

    CubistHamster Loaded Pockets

    These days, Damascus is more about aesthetics than performance. Go back 1000 years or so, and Damascus (which is completely different than the stuff that bears that name today, look up Wootz for more info) *may* have offered some advantages over competing European steels.

    That being said, your question is still kind of vague. When you ask which one is stronger, what do you mean by strength? Are you referring to the ability to take and hold a sharp edge, or the ability to resist cracking and chipping? One requires hardness, while the other needs toughness, and most of the time, the two are inversely proportional to one another.

    There are partial solutions to this dilemma, like differential tempering, or laminated blades, but that's way beyond the scope of your question.

    Anyway, if you want some good basic info on blade and steels, check this out.

    jzmtl Loaded Pockets

    Impossible to say without knowing which carbon steel and damascus with which composition, there are just too many of them. And what you mean by strong, holding a sharp edge longer, or can hit a rock without chip.

    chico13 Loaded Pockets

    what i mean is per has more or less using it as a prybar wich would not brake

    CubistHamster Loaded Pockets

    If you want a pry bar, get a pry bar, like one of these.

    A knife is the most expensive, least effective, and most dangerous pry bar you'll ever use.

    If you're dead set on it though, go for plain ol' carbon steel. No sense paying extra for something pretty when you're planning on abusing it.

    tradja Loaded Pockets

    Personally, I would not be too interested in a damascus prybar.  YMMV.

    Perhaps you're looking for something like this.
    Along the same lines, you might try these.

    The most practical and affordable carbon steel knives that could withstand moderate amounts of such abuse would probably be these.

    Far tougher and more suitable than any of these options would be this.  That being said, I'm very curious about the CountyComm EOD bar myself.

    jj Empty Pockets

    Damascus steel is folded and hammered repeatedly. It was original done to get an even carbon content in blades. Today the quality of steels makes it's use purely aesthetic.
    • +1 Supporter

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

    First, the material that is called "Damascus" steel is neither. It is more properly known as Damascended. Also, as was mentioned above it is a composite. According to a new paper published, original Damascus steel, using lost processes and materials we are still unsure of produced amazingly strong and flexible steel because it incorporated carbon nanotubes. It has been only in the last 10-15 years that we have figured out how to apply carbon nanotubes to material science (AGAIN). Suffice to say the products marketed as "Damascus" steel have absolutely nothing in common with the real thing, other than appearance. Additionally, because it is a blend of materials, you'd need to first know what the materials that are blended are before you could figure out if the Damascus steel is stronger than carbon steel.

    The other thing is your question has two additional problems. First, all steel is "carbon" steel. Carbon is a necessary ingredient in all steel, it is what, among other things, that blends with iron to make steel steel.

    Second, what do you mean by stronger? Do you mean harder or do you mean "tougher"? Hardness or strength in steel references how dense and wear resistant a material is. Diamonds, are, for example VERY HARD. But they are not tough. In fact, they are very brittle. The stuff used in Linex (or Rhino Liner), on the other hand, is tough, but not hard at all. You could hit it with a baseball bat, stretch it all over the place, and it would not shatter provided it was not frozen. But i t cannot hold an edge because it is not sufficiently hard.

    A survival knife that you do lots of chopping with should be tough at the expense of being overly hard. A slicing knife, like a paring knife should be the opposite.

    tradja Loaded Pockets

    Good distinctions, but I repectfully submit that these points are a little academic, even over on dedicated knife boards (and it's damascened anyway :laugh: :poke: :) ). When knife knuts refer to "Damascus", it may not be 100% historically accurate, but other knife knuts know that a pattern-welded composite is being referred to. For example, search a major knife board for "Damascened", then search it for "Damascus". For that matter, ask a knifemaker to make you a "damascened" piece. ;D

    Similarly, in these contexts I generally interpret "carbon steel" as meaning "knife steel that has less than 11% chromium" , i.e. not stainless.

    It's akin to the tanto authenticity police (angular American "Tanto" point vs. traditional sweeping Japanese tanto) -- historically correct, sure, but the common usage seems legit enough.
    • +1 Supporter

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

    I have had a bad history with the Harbor Freight prybar. There is an actual store in Rhode Island and my in laws live there. One of my father in law's friends was moving and doing demo on his workshop and he had ordered a bunch of these (as they are super cheap). He popped one end under a huge board and pushed. The bar went flat. He tried another and the same thing happened.

    If you want something to pry with how about one of the following:

    1. Stanley Wonderbar (many shaped and sizes, all can take one hell of a beating).
    2. Cop Tool by CRKT (Wilson also makes a higher quality custom version). I think Boker makes something similar as well.
    3. Graham Razel (In many sizes, both custom and production from CRKT)
    4. County Comm's Breacher Bar
    5. Many of the survival style knives, like the RAT mentioned above, are sturdy enough to do some prying, splitting, and heavy duty chopping.

    I checked the spelling on that word a bunch of times...dang it.

    Also, the material science article on Damascus steel was published in April of 2009 an is actually pretty friggin' fascinating if you can wade through the jargon and science terms (my wife is a chemist and helped me out). The fact that people in the middle ages had figured out how to make these blades that using 21st century materials like carbon nanotubes is truly incredible. I also think it is an interesting example of how sometimes historical accounts aren't exaggerated all that much (these being the old stories about Damascus steel blades cutting through other swords of the period, through rock even, and still being sharp enough to cut silk as it fell). Done right, those old blades probably could slice the other swords of the time (crappy, by comparison European blades) into pieces. The silk thing may be the only part of the story that is impossible, but 20 years ago the whole story seemed ridiculous because we hadn't discovery the nanotube material that makes it possible.