Waves in the Steel

So I still might have scars from this one, but it was so worth it.


Very sorry about the lack of posts in the past extended long while. Lots of things have been happening and life has certainly picked up in both speed and complexity. The good news is that it means I have lots of projects to show for it!

This project started out as a scraped together idea, but when someone asked for a damascus cleaver I could not resist. I mean, who doesn’t want to at least hold let alone use a damascus cleaver once in their life.

I had some of my first damascus steel laying around from 4 or so summers ago when I tried to handweld a chunk of steel that was probably too large to reasonably attempt welding. I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do with them until someone suggested that I try San Mai with them.

For those lucky 10,000, San Mai (wonderfully descriptive name by the way) is when you take three sheets of steel, preferably two bright sheets and one hard sheet, and sandwich the hard sheet in the middle. You get some interesting patterns and usually a line that separates the edge from the sides. I was going to use the damascus as the two shiny sheets on the edges.

What I ended up doing was sorta that, but not actually. I took a railroad spike, flattened the end, and did a horrifying tetris of hard steel in the middle (1095) and the damascus on the sides, while somehow making sure the railroad spike wouldn’t suddenly evict itself from the whole affair.


Needless to say this was a mild nightmare to plan.

When I finally got to forging this I was more than nervous and was pretty sure I had ruined the whole project until I chopped off the last third of an inch to clean it up. to my surprise I found that I had actually managed to weld it. Once I knew it was solid working it was quite the breeze. A power hammer driven breeze admittedly.

Heat treat was (thankfully) unremarkable. No warping, no cracking and no (uncontainable) fires.

It’s also worth mentioning that for the most part the knives i’ve done so far were just practice and for personal goofing around. For a first commission piece I really wanted to go above and beyond on at least one detail. Once I had it ground to its final polish I decided to put a mirror edge on it for that nice reflective slicing.

Needless to say that I still have yet to work on my coordination around razor sharp knives, but at least it came out quite shiny.

Because of how well this one turned out I’ve decided to make another one, although with a higher layer count on the damascus. I’m not sure how long that one will be in the works, but I should have pictures sooner or later.

I cannot wait to show you some of what I have in the works!

Until next time-

Jeremiah Cohn


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