by Larry Connelley
Please tell us about your background and position at Damasteel?
I am the Chairman of Damasteel AB. I have 35 years experience in the steel and manufacturing industry. I started out as a 15 year old apprentice in a heat treating shop that was a part of the famous defense industry company, Bofors. Since then, I have held different positions in the Swedish steel industry; working mainly with research, development and manufacturing.
I’m very found of history and especially the history of steel making in Sweden. The steel industry plays a very important part of our history that brought wealth and technology to the country. Unfortunately, the Kings in those days had the bad habit spending all of their money on wars. Additionally, historical research shows the possiblity that the blast furnace was invented in Sweden some 1000 years ago. Not far from where I live an archaeologist excavated a Viking settlement and found the remains of a Damascus sword.
I learned blacksmithing as a hobby as a young man. Later in life, when I had the opportunity run Damasteel, the decision wasn’t hard.
Who, When and where was the Damasteel process invented?
Two decades ago an employee of Erasteel (owner of the Söderfors mill founded in 1676), Per Billgren and an internationally renowned blacksmith and knife maker Kaj Embretsen were intrigued by the challenge of producing high-alloy damascus steel. Together they developed a method for manufacturing of Stainless Steel Damascus using powder metallurgy technology. This method received the “Innovation of the year” prize at the EPMA conference in Paris 1994. The company Damasteel® was then founded in 1995 by Per Billgren as a spin-off from Erasteel Kloster AB.
In 2012, the ownership of Damasteel® was passed on. Today Damasteel® is an independent family owned and driven company with 11 employees. We combine the pride of our history with expert knowledge of steel making. We seek to be innovative and customer focused with an international presence.
What is Damasteel?
DAMASTEEL® manufactures a beautiful patterned, and stainless, damascus steel with superior strength and durability. We accomplish this with modern powder metallurgy with a technique we hold the worldwide patent for. Damasteel’s smiths have a passion for their profession, which is visible in the final product. We simply manufacture steel that gives our customers around the world incredible opportunities for personal creativity. Customer’s high standards for design and function are also our priority. Our premium steel should always be your first choice.
How is it made? Are their any patents, propriety processes or trademarks of your steel or process?
The traditional damascus steel is produced by welding two types of steel in typically seven layers. Then one forges out and folds the piece repeatedly until one gets over one hundred layers in their piece.
We hold the international patent to manufacture damascus steel at Damasteel via modern powder metallurgy, which is a method with many advantages. We also have a patent for making rifle barrels in damascus steel. Many of our patterns hold trademarks.
How is Damasteel different than traditionally forged carbon and stainless steel damascus?
The main difference is that we manufacture our damascus steel with the latest generation powder metallurgy. We use only the highest quality powder steels. Our powder metallurgy made steel is made cleaner and has a very small amount of inclusions and impurities in comparison to traditionally made steel. The precision we use in are manufacturing guarantees the highest possible quality.
As a matter of fact our Damascus steel is one solid piece of steel which gives it performance of a solid steel product and makes it the most usable Damascus steel. Our blacksmiths forging technique and craftsmanship guarantees a damascus steel with unique durability and strength. Our material is also extremely easy to work with and you will have excellent edge retention and a mirror finish. We guarantee to the maker an extremely consistent pattern. A product manufactured in our steel is stainless after hardening and tempering.
Are their any functional or cutting performance considerations to keep in mind when using Damasteel on a knife blade?
Small carbides, small and few inclusions makes the edge really durable. You can keep the edge sharper and it will stay that way for a longer period of time compared to other steel grades. It’s stainless and you can get hardness up to 64 HRC. Simply put; Damasteel is made to be used!
What is the proper care of Damasteel for owner of a knife that utilizes Damasteel?
I guess no one would, but do not put a damasteel knife in the dishwasher. Other than that, maintenance is that same as any other knife. If your blade scratches or marks it can be polished and etched again. Do not be afraid to use a damasteel blade. Use it hard and get the Damasteel experience.
What key tip for using Damasteel would you have for a knifemaker, craftsman or manufacturer?
We have instructions in the data sheets; from hardening, grinding to the etching. Damasteel is easy to work with so do not be afraid to try it out. One tip I would give is to mirror polish and clean it carefully before etching. Proper surface preparation will provide very good results.
What are the principle applications for Damasteel in the market? (Obviously knives but what else?)
Damasteel makes both Stainless and Carbon steel Damascus, For knife applications we only make stainless martensitic Damascus. For gun and rifle applications we make both stainless and carbon steel. We also make stainless austenitic Damascus for design and jewelry applications.
We appreciate the time that Mr. Jarbelius took with this interview. For more information on Damasteel view our article: Damasteel® vs. Damascus Steel - Explaining the Materials
Additionally visit Damasteel Website