Monday, December 20, 2010

Damascus Steel is Dead

Photograph sourced from Nesmuk. reports Nesmuk have released one of the world's most expensive chef knives for a mere AUD $43,953.42. Crafted by Lars Scheidler, the Nesmuk Brilliant Knife features 800 layers of Damascus Steel and a hilt of patinated sterling silver, inlaid with eight diamonds.

I love the evocative sound of the words Damascus Steel but I do get oh so grumpy when people bandy the term around. Damascus Steel was a term used to describe the type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking in the period of 1100 to 1700AD. The swords were reputed to be resistant to shattering, sharp and characterised by distinctive banding and mottling.

Unfortunately the technique was lost to mankind circa 1750 AD and several modern theories include the loss of knowledge due to secrecy, the lack of trace impurities in the metal, the breakdown of trade routes or a combination of all of the above.

All modern attempts to duplicate the metal have failed and so the Damascus blade will remain the stuff of myth. I mean really what would a chef need a Damascus blade for? A crusade on Brussel Sprouts?

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