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Making a Damascus Petty knife

During Christmas of 2019, I flew over to Perth Western Australia to visit family and friends. I had organised to see my friend Bruce Barnett of Windy Hollow Forge, located 3 hours south of Perth in Bridgetown.

Bruce is well known in the knife making community as one of the best knife makers in Australia. He specialises in making Slip Joint pocket knives and the most beautiful Damascus steel. Bruce also makes Japanese chef knives, Hunting knives and Bowie knives.

Bruce was very kind to allow me to stay with him for a couple of nights and show me how he forges his beautiful Damascus. Bruce uses 1080 and 15n20 high carbon steel to produce his Damascus, He uses these specific steels as they are identical apart from the 15n20 having a 2% nickel content. This makes his Damascus really easy to heat treat as it's basically the same steel type, while also allowing us to produce beautiful patterns due to the nickel in the 15n20 which will not etch as dark as 1080.

We managed to create quite a few billets of Damascus steel which I would take home to further forge into knives.

Once I was back, I went to see my friend Nathan Roennfeldt who runs Naroe Blades. Nathan kindly let me use his forging setup to forge one of my twist Damascus billets into a small Japanese Petty knife.

Once the blade had been forged, heat-treated and ground/sanded it was etched in Ferric Chloride. this process eats away at the 1080 high carbon steel but leaves the 15n20 nickel steel, thus showing our pattern.

The knife is then etched again in a very strong instant coffee mix overnight. this process really darkens the 1080 high carbon steel in the Damascus, creating a nice contrast between the steels. Here is the finished knife in all it's glory.

I had a lot of fun making this knife, it was a first for many things. First time forging Damascus and my first time forging a blade from scratch to completion. Huge thanks again to Bruce Barnett of Windy Hollow Forge and Nathan Roenndfeldt of Naroe Blades for your guidance and support! Cheers Ross Arnold Minno Creek Knife and Tool

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