The creation of modern Damascus steel is still an art form. From selecting the proper steel with the proper alloys and carbon content to varied temperatures for forging, shaping and quenching the steel, the process is extensive and precise.
One of the popular type 67 Layers VG10 Damascus Steel contains roughly 1% carbon and molybdenum, 15% chromium, 1.5% cobalt, and less than 1% vanadium, manganese and phosphorus, while VG2 is comprised of roughly 1% carbon, 15% chromium, and less than 1% copper, molybdenum and nickel. The addition of manganese to VG10 produces a darker color steel.
The differing elements of steel also have different purposes. For example, the addition of carbon improves a blade’s hardness, edge retention, tensile strength and resistance to wear and abrasion, while the addition of manganese improves grain structure, hardenability, strength and wear resistance. The addition of chromium, which is one of the most important elements of stainless steel (at least 13% chromium is required for stainless steel) improves harness, tensile strength, and resistance to wear and corrosion.
When creating Damascus, the two steels are stacked into alternating layers to create billets which are then twisted, folded, heated and hammered. Once the billets have been repeatedly folded and hammered and the hot metal is the proper shade of dark red (light red indicates a high temperature that will lend the metal to cracking), the steel is then quenched to harden the structure. Finally, the crafter finishes the shaping process by hammering, lengthening and flattening the metal until a unique Damascus pattern is revealed.