Mike's Bowie-My First Damascus blade
If you are not familiar with pattern welded or more commonly called "Damascus" steel, you may have wondered why some blades have a distinct pattern shown on the surface. These are blades made by a special hot forging process reintroduced to modern knifemakers by Bill Moran in the late 1970's. In order to make Damascus, a smith must forge weld a stack of short bars of steel. Generally, two steels with different alloy content are used so that when the final shape has been created, an acid etch will reveal a striking contrast in the layers of steel. When the stack is forge welded together it forms a solid billet which is drawn out and then cut or folded back on its self and forge welded again. (This is very similar to the way Japanese smiths forge weld and fold up pieces of tamahagane to refine it into high quality sword steel.)
For my first billet of damascus, I used 14 layers of Aldo's 1084 & 15N20. I was able to work at my friend Kyle's shop to make use of his 100lb Little Giant power hammer to draw out the steel. I forge welded the 14 layers into one billet, then drew it out and cut it into 3 and welded again. Then I drew that out into a long bar which I cut into 8 pieces and welded again. I ended up just over 300 layers. THe billet was then squared up and twisted in a vice to give the distinct pattern . I then forged a that final billet into a bowie knife blade.
I had a deer antler that my friend Michael Selby had shot almost 20 years ago. When I heard that he was battling cancer, I made a handle from the antler and presented the finished knife to him on a recent trip to California.