April 13, 2020 2 min read
There are few things on this planet more interesting, beautiful and impressive as Pattern Welded Steel. It is a material that is at the very center of so many converging subjects. The history and mythology surrounding the material is immense. The science behind the structure of the material is complex and still somewhat mysterious. And the visual appeal is absolutely unmatched in just about every situation. You will be extremely hard pressed to find a more fascinating material.
Pattern Welded Steel has a couple of other names, one of which is more accurate than the other. You'll hear some folks refer to it as either Damascus Steel or Wootz Steel. Damascus Steel is an ancient forging method using Wootz Steel to craft sword blades. But due to material differences and processes that have been lost to time the true nature of Damascus is likely a mystery that will go unsolved. Wootz steel however is very real, and has been used in crafting metal goods since the 6th century.
The process of creating Wootz Steel or Pattern Welded Steel is complex but not outright unimaginable. Effectively the metal worker layers several thin sheets of steel on top of each other and then applies heat and pressure to force those sheets to become bonded or welded together. They then fold the newly created chunk of welded steel and apply the same process over again. They do this repeatedly until several layers of steel are uniquely welded together. The process creates a steel that is beautiful to look at, as the layers swirl against each other like a fine wood grain.
The pattern weld also gives the steel a couple of unique physical characteristics. Firstly being that this steel is extremely tough. It flexes in the ways you want a metal to flex making it resistant to shattering. It's capable of being sharpened to an extremely fine, razor sharp edge. Additionally it appears to be relatively resistant to rust which is a particularly handy quality for any metal. Apparently folding the steel repeatedly created carbon nano-tubes which are instrumental in giving the steel its uniquely resilient nature.
Acclaimed knife maker Daryl Meier and RTA used to do business and live not far from each other. Ryan has been working with some scraps of Daryl's pattern welded steel to make some neath things: