-Making Stainless Damascus-
106 Feet of stainless steel coil meet 24 tons of hydraulic press.
Stainless damascus is much more difficult to make than plain carbon damascus. The culprits are
the nickel and chromium that make the steel rust resistant. When heated to forge-welding
temperatures, these alloying elements create problematic oxides which inhibit fusion. The
only way to prevent this oxidation is to remove oxygen from the presence of the steels. While
there are atmospherically controlled furnaces for industrial purposes, they are certainly not geared
toward the artisan metalsmith. Instead I must completely seal the steels inside an airtight iron box.
Stacked inside the sealed box are 50 layers of alternating stainless steels, each only 0.02"
thick. Such thin sheet must be used to reach high layer counts as a second welding operation
would be technically infeasible.
The furnace must run large and hot to soak a billet evenly to welding
temperatures, until it is ready to fuse under the pressure of the hydraulic press.
The billet will now be cut from the box and the pattern developed. This may involve hours of
cutting, grinding, twisting and forging to achieve. It may then, finally be formed into jewelry.