Making A Wooden Damascus “Steel” Knife General Woodworking

This one started on a whim, just to test out the idea of making something that looks like damascus steel from thin layers of wood. It’s something that I had been wanting to try for a long time.

I made a short video going through the process from beginning to end:

I used two clear, straight grained pieces of wood and shaved thin layers off with my block plane:

Spruce for the lighter colour and cedar for the darker one.

I didn’t know how many layers I would be able to stack up, so made sure I had plenty of shavings:

When it came time to glue it up, I had a problem with the cedar shredding and breaking apart. The spruce was super tough and other than its tendency to curl up, I had no trouble with those shavings. Next time I’ll use a different wood for the darker colour, or maybe even a dark cloth material.

To imprint a pattern into it, I made forms from plywood backer and the plastic lens from a light fixture. It has the right amount of texture to give the “damascus” a snake skin look:

Up to this point I hadn’t decided to go any further with the experiment. After looking at the results, I thought I may as well go ahead and try to make a knife from it.

For the handle, I used sumac wood from a tree I cut down about three years ago:

I used epoxy again to glue that on and let it set for a few hours.

Then it was just a matter of shaping the handle and blade using regular woodworking tools:

An interesting project and even though the knife is not really practical for use as a cutting instrument, it does look pretty neat. It also shows what’s possible with this material, and I expect I’ll be using it again in upcoming projects.