View Full Version : Cleaning Damascus

03-13-2005, 11:11 AM
I just pulled my Evolution Worker set out of my closet, and noticed the damascus blade is pretty dull and dark (not rusty). I think I read somewhere that you have to take special care of this steel. I've got Flitz, which is great for cleaning SS blades, but I don't know if it's the best product for this job.

Anyone else got an answer?
Dave :confused:

03-13-2005, 11:15 AM
I just pulled my Evolution Worker set out of my closet...

well I wish I could do the same and help you Dave, but I only own the closet so far... :D

03-13-2005, 11:19 AM
Thanks anyway, but I guess as long as you're not IN the closet, that's a good thing!

03-13-2005, 01:04 PM
Cleaning Damascus is something that must be done with extreme caution. Any polishing using an abrasive can eliminate the damascus pattern that is visible. The damascus pattern that you see is formed by etching the blade with acid. Because the Damascus blade has a mixture of different steel materials, the acid attacks/etches them at different rates causing the visible pattern. If you polish the blade, the pattern will become less visible and could potentially vanish. Unetched Damascus looks like plain steel. So to care for a Damascus blade I would recommend wiping with a soft cloth and protective lubricant to prevent rust. If rust is a significant problem I would find a knifemaker that works with Damascus and ask him about re-etching the blade. Any polishing of the blade will effect the finish in a significant manner. I hope this helps.

Rare Spyderco Website

03-13-2005, 05:10 PM
Thanks a lot for the lesson and warning, Spyderwa!

Take care,

03-13-2005, 07:02 PM
Yeah, I didn't know all that about Damascus. Thanks for sharing!

Ed Schempp
03-13-2005, 09:04 PM
Spyderwa is right on. It really depends on the depth of the original etch. If the surface of the steel has good depth of relief then you probably won't rub out the pattern, but you will polish off the oxides on the surface. The dark oxide in the Damascus gives contrast and helps show off the steel. I usually etch very deep and then polish my Damascus, it is a more durable finish, but less contrast. Wiping the blade with a soft cloth and WD 40 will remove excess oxides and is good maintanance for Damascus Steel. If the cloth wides off oxides it will show on the cloth and the maintanance was necessary. This would be my first choice for Swede's problem.
If the pattern goes away or is rubbed out, then you can wipe the blade, when clean and oil free, with diluted 1 to 4 ferric chloride to H2O. Repeat until pattern is restored, this is a slow process. It is very important to neutralize or clean off the ferric and retreat with WD 40 when you are satisfied with the contrast. Ferric chloride is availible at Radio Shack as Printed Circut Board etch. You only need a couple of tablespoons of this mix for this process. Ferric stains stuff yellow-orange, like pants and shirts. Neutralize with baking soda or TSP...Take Care...Ed

03-13-2005, 11:19 PM
Thanks a lot for more education, Ed.
Best regards,

Stevie Ray
03-14-2005, 04:32 AM
Thanks for the education guys. Good stuff.

03-14-2005, 11:04 AM
Just please be careful when working with acid. protection for your eyes and hands is a minimum. Also the fumes are real bad news for your lungs, take care about that to. Damascus is just beautiful and worthy to keep it that way, so good luck. Got a tip once about this subject from a couple of guys that used their damascus knifes (western re'anacters). They put their blade in a jar of musterd overnight to recover the pattern. Never tried this myself though.