Explosively Formed Damascus Steel

Hi - I am looking for input on how to approach making damascus steel.

I have access to an explosives lab and I am interested in adapting a technique called explosive welding to potentially create a new type of damascus steel. I can easily source any metal and potential fillers such as carbon nanotubes, nanodiamond, and small microdiamonds if that's of any benefit.

I envision filling a pipe with various types of metal, inserting a piece of roundstock to pack it in tightly with a hydraulic press, and then set off an explosive above the roundstock. The shock wave should theoretically fuse the contents together in an instant. The containment pipe would have to be cut open to extract the material inside, which should be one fused piece of metal.

If a square or rectangular geometry is preferred, I can use such a shape as a die and send a planar shock wave through the inner mixture regardless. I can use a combination of C4 and detasheet to do that, so it's no problem. And if immediate quenching is required, that's fine, we can do the shot in a tub of water - messy but doable.

I will be booking time at the lab some time before June, and I would like to go prepared with a few prefabbed assemblies to send explosive shock waves through to see if we can produce something that you guys can potentially work with.

Please share any thoughts on this and whether becoming involved is of interest.

Thanks tons - Daren
Thanks! Unfortunately, the explosives lab is in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. However, if you can get yourself up here when I book the lab for the next set of tests I am allowed to have up to four guests accompany me.

In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts on the metals/powders etc that you think would work best. Have you experimented with making damascus steel before? If so, what are the most important considerations I should keep in mind when approaching this?


Well-Known Member
Daren, I'm sure you have MUCH more insight to welding than I do. I'm just starting to dabble in San Mai which is only 3 layers. Normally you want alloys that have similar expansion rates, and contrasting appearance. like 15N20 with it's higher level of Nickel and perhaps 1084 or 1095 steels. I am NOT the person to give tech advice on Damascus pattern welding steels.

Good luck - and I'd sure like to make the trip, but guess I'll stay down here in the South where it's not so cold {g}

Ken H>
Hey Ken, I actually have no experience with welding, just explosives. I remember going to a conference once and spoke to some veteran welders, and like knife making, welding is an entire artform of its own.

Thanks for feedback! Much appreciated