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Shaping Damascus Steel

Hi all,

I just acquired a bunch of small scraps of stainless Damascus steel
from a customer who makes custom knives. I’d like to carve this
beautiful material into various jewelry-suited shapes, but I’ve only
done the most rudimentary work with steel.

Will my regular saw blades (Rio Laser Gold) work for cutting out
blanks, or is there a better alternative? Should I use steel files,
or resort to abrasives (maybe diamond burs) used with the Flex-shaft?
Which etchant should I use to bring out the Damascus patterning when
the carving work is done?

Many thanks for any and all advice that you experienced folks can
offer. I can’t wait to start playing with this stuff!


Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, Ohio


Being a knife maker and jeweller (both as hobby only admittedly) I
am fairly familiar with the stuff.

Also, I have made a damascus ring myself…

So long as it is annealed, regular saw blades will work just fine.
Remember to anneal by heating to non-magnetic then cooling as slowly
as possible - ie maybe in a bucket of ash.

I use steel files on ANNEALED steel all the time - it is fine and
often what they were designed for in the first place. However, if
you don’t want to anneal it for whatever reason (I can’t think why)
then you would need to use abrasives.

As for etchant, this is something that will get you dozens of
different answers.

The simplest one is warm vinegar. Another is ferric chloride.
There are heaps of different opinions on this and as steel is pretty
easy to etch, most stuff will work. If you are really keen, try
looking up Damascus etchant on