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 Post subject: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:33 pm 
Trigger Junkie
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At the last Richmond ELGS, Rob Charlton of Damascus USA knives had a table.

http://www.damascususa.com/knives.htm

His knives were beautifully made. They were about the same price as high-end commercial machine made knives (Cold Steel, SOG, TOPS), and a lot cheaper than name-brand custom knives (Randall). He seemed like a good guy as well.

If I buy one of his knives, it will be to use, not to collect. Any issues with damascus blades? Any comments on edge holding, toughness, brittleness, etc.?

TIA



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:59 pm 
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He makes excellent knives and his pricing for Damascus is cheaper then some of the commercial makers s/s blades...If you are even remotely thinking about another maker, DON’T as theirs will not compare in quality for the same price…Buy him! $200 for a custom made, good Damascus blade hunter with giraffe bone (hardest bone in the world)—You can’t go wrong and I can’t sing his praises any higher without making you think I’m a distributor for his knives or something…

Don’t you just love his Marine Combat Knife all prettied up! I had his Hunter/Camper and a Capstick American (African?) but no more...I’m also interested in his JRS Hunter and the General Yeager Hunter Skinner…Did you get to handle the Bird & Trout by any chance, sheer beauty in balance and design…I first came across his blades many years ago at the Reno Show that takes place with the Safari Club Int. convention…I won the bid on one of his donated knives, the Capstick, but I never met him until much later when I got the Camper at some show out east Florida(?)…

Why would you treat Damascus any different then any other carbon or s/s knife...There isn't anything unique about it...it isn't more delicate then any other steel...

What to look for is how it's made, from what the bars were made from...the forging technique as those will determine the price...

I will buy Damascus before any other material in the knife I’m wanting and if the maker works with it and lots of them don’t or won’t because it is time consuming, hot & sweaty and if you miss a quench at the right time you have a piece of brittle metal paperweight…Lots of guys buy their Damascus blanks from professional makers and either forge it further or stock remove it to shape…

There is also cable Damascus where they use the steel guy wires from cranes etc., heat them up, bang them together and call it Damascus…It is, just a cheaper version of it but it can make for some lovely blades…

Remember a Randall is a $400 to $500 knife with a fancy makers name on it, making it a $700 knife and worth every damn penny...Why there is a four+ year waiting list for their custom work! That's right four+ years!

Check out Rehoboth Custom Knives who is a dealer in some excellent blades…Look for Wally Hayes, Craig Camerer, David Brodziak, Bailey Bradshaw, Don Norris, Harvey Dean, Scott Smith, Shawn Ellis, Shawn McIntyre to see some of the greatest patterns available in Damascus…Birds flying, horses marching, flags waving worked into the steel…



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:34 pm 
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Thanks for the info SH.

I was looking at the Capstick African & the Chuck Yeager skinner. I'll look for him at the next ELGS & pick them up. He was selling them on the table for a few $s less than his website.

The Marine Corp knife is beautiful, but I'm not sure how useful it will be as a hunting knife.



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:25 pm 
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Ahhh dang it. If you guys had just showed me this about six months ago.
Damascus blades you could afford to carry, drool.


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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:24 am 
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toad wrote:
Ahhh dang it. If you guys had just showed me this about six months ago.
Damascus blades you could afford to carry, drool.


From???



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:32 am 
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The only thing to watch about a Damascus hunting knife, AFAIK, is that the ridges, etc tend to hold blood. Eezox is a good thing for them.



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:30 am 
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Well most of the Damascus Knives I've seen to date were beautiful and had a four figure or high three figure price tag. I'd end up keeping then in a safe somewhere even if I could have afforded one.


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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 11:25 pm 
I'm getting a couple of his Randall-style damascus blanks. They are well forged, not like the Indian/Paki imports. I'll post some stuff when I get them.

Image


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 12:49 pm 
And to respond to your questions regarding damascus;
Edge holding - they are softer than one of the high-Rockwell modern steels so, in comparison, no. They are not made with a core of hard steel, they are made to be beautiful. Damascus will take a hell of an edge - I pretend it's the different metals creating a micro-serration, but it's just easier to sharpen a plain forged steel to a razor.

Brittleness - I think Damascus is probably less brittle than a modern steel, but don't have any real info. I shoot damascus barreled guns with low pressure loads, and know that 100 year old damascus barreled guns pass British proof tests on a regular basis. Cheap clunker-status damascus barrels on hardware-store shotguns is what gave damascus a bad name in this country. High grade damascus barrels are excellent, and were not made obsolete by nitro powder, but by cost of manufacture.

Toughness - I would not try to bend or pry, or do of those Cold Steel bending demonstrations with Damascus. To my knowledge damascus has not been surface hardened and forging is the only process affecting molecular structure. So, consider it similar to a high-carbon steel that has not been heat treated. The damascus pattern on the surface is fragile; it's been highlighted by acid etching and can polished off leaving a plain steel-looking surface. The acid (I use ferric chloride) etches the lower carbon steel faster than the higher carbon steel.

For a hard-working knife I'd get modern steel. Damascus is like a professional fashion model; very very hot and will make your friends jealous as hell, but probably not the right girl to marry.


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 6:19 pm 
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Thanks Zero,

A casual search of "damascus knives" turns up 10,000 ebay listings of $20 knives. Bob's knives start at $100. I'm glad to know I'm paying for better forging.

These days, a machine made K-bar costs $80, so a Charlton knife at $200 seems like a reasonable deal -- and at a price point that I'm not afraid to use it.

An Ontario Knife K-bar is my reference point, btw. I buy other knives, but I seem to keep coming back to that K-bar. It keeps a good edge, it takes rought treatment and keeps ticking (steel wool for the surface rust & stone for the edge).

If you don't recommend the damascus for a working knife, what's your recommendation for a reasonable factory blade? Have you tried any of those new "crucible" steel knives? I see them a lot on smaller blades, but not on big, working blades.



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 8:49 pm 
Busted.
My steel knowledge is 2" deep and 20 years out of date. I asked my brother about one of those "number steels" last week while trying to figure out which blade to make into a project knife. His response sounded like advertizing fluff; "they're really hard and make excellent knives" :P

If Charleton's ready made knives are $200ish, then what the heck - GO FOR IT- The blade blanks I bought from him were $95 each...and the ugly knife guys at www.scrapyardknives.com make $200 knives.

The knife I use (abuse) to open cans, scrape dried grass out out of the lawnmower, and other non-cutting tasks is 440 stainless with a 'chute cord handle. I can lose it or break it, and I sharpen it with a file. So maybe my definition of working is bogus.

Here's the "number steel" blank that got my attention to waver from Charleton's stuff . I had to look again to see about the number: CM154

http://www.knifekits.com/vcom/product_i ... ts_id=1235


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 4:03 am 
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Thanks! Nice looking blade for a nice price - $95!

I'm not into knifemaking, so I'll probably just do the thong-thing with some 550 cord and use an old sheath.



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 4:27 pm 
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I use knives everyday in the bush and I mostly prefer Damascus (except for filleting knives)...Yes, I might have to touch up the blade after skinning and finishing out a moose but I have to do the same thing with most of the knives out there...

I also found that Damascus is a lot easier to use when it's -20, it warms up faster then other steels...

I now carry a D2 blade by Bob Dozier as my daily carry as it's nearly indestructible and has stayed sharp after doing 5 caribou and a moose...Pro Guide model is $255 and has no character compared to Damascus...



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 8:19 am 
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ZeroGravitas wrote:
The damascus pattern on the surface is fragile; it's been highlighted by acid etching and can polished off leaving a plain steel-looking surface. The acid (I use ferric chloride) etches the lower carbon steel faster than the higher carbon steel.


Even so, a close look with a loop or even a bright light along the edge will show the folds of a true Damascus blade. Ive seen acid-etching and it almost NEVER goes to the area where the blade meets edge and is not traceable along the edge where portions might be visible. If you look closely, the etching lines disappear where the blade has been sharpened, in contrast to a true Damascus blade where you can trace the folds right through the sharpening edge (although you might need a loop depending on how fine and tight the blade fold are).



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I remain pessimistic given the way BATF and the anti gun crowd have become tape worms in the guts of the Republic. - toad
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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 12:51 pm 
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Mike, very good point...We had a question regarding this and a folding knife awhile back (that I'll have to find) where it was discussed...

There is three kinds of Damascus--Acid etched, cable and folded and go up in price accordingly...

Acid etched is regular steel for lack of the term coloured and lines almost drawn on--I've seen folders, Trapper Models going for $8.00...This is not Damascus, this is fake and this is pure crap in most cases...

Cable is where they will take steel cable, bridge supports etc. and heat the metal add flux and pound it into one glob of metal, maybe twist it and voila, a Damascus type of blade, which it truly is, billets (layers) of steel married under heat and pounding but it is still not "TRUE" Damascus...prices begin around $100.00…I’ve got a few and they’re nice blades…some very interesting patterns can be accomplished but you’re still only sharpening one steel (usually)

True Damascus is a melding of two or three (sometimes even more) metals of different hardness under heat and hammer, folded and twisted many times to form the blank...to be true Damascus is must be of two different metals--hard & soft which is also what a true Japanese blade is constructed of but of course not called that...priced begin at $200.00…

Prices vary by the method of forming the blank (by hand or machine). Quality of the steels used, makers’ reputation and whether the knife maker(s) made their own blanks or bought one from someone else (very common) and size/shape and all the bells and whistles…

EDIT
Found it--Xmas Knife



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 2:16 pm 
I agree regarding fake damascus and etching, but in my experience all damacus must be etched to highlight the different steels. When forging is complete the damascus pattern is not very apparent. The acid etchs the two different steels at slightly different rates, creating the pattern. Etch for too long and both steels look grey. To get a fine finish it takes several short etch/polish steps.

Below is a current Dam project knife, that got badlly scratched after assembly, so I repolished and am carefully re-etching. :cry: One side shows a single pass and the next pic shows two passes. I think I'll be happy after about four etches.

Image

Image


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 10:10 pm 
I received the 2 blanks from Charleton and as Rob explained on the phone, they are nicer than the web photos. I'll need to get a natural light photo to do them justice.


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 10:29 pm 
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[quote="ZeroGravitas"]I agree regarding fake damascus and etching, but in my experience all damacus must be etched to highlight the different steels. When forging is complete the damascus pattern is not very apparent. The acid etchs the two different steels at slightly different rates, creating the pattern. Etch for too long and both steels look grey. To get a fine finish it takes several short etch/polish steps.

Below is a current Dam project knife, that got badlly scratched after assembly, so I repolished and am carefully re-etching. :cry: One side shows a single pass and the next pic shows two passes. I think I'll be happy after about four etches.


Nickel iron meteorites can display the so-called Widmanstatten pattern, and can be very attractive. It must be etched to bring out the pattern:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widmanst%C3%A4tten_pattern


Last edited by Darrell on Fri May 15, 2009 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 11:54 pm 
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Zero, you very correct but that is a finishing technique for Damascus manufacture not a method of faking its appearance...

I know a very good Damascus smith who uses--and he's very particular on this--Female (not male) sheep urine and alfalfa honey for his final quench and you'd be amazed at the outcome...

Looking at the Boker site, as that was prominent in the other post they indicate that their really cheap blades are acid etched yet they just refer to their real Damascus blades as Damascus...

If the knife is under $50 to $100, depending on size of course, the probability of it being genuine Damascus is slim to a snowball's chance in Hell...

A few that I really like:
Image Wayne Whittaker

Image Ken Steiger

Image Bill Fiorini

Image Fred Ott

Check out some blades by:Norman P. Bardsley, Craig Camerer, Jerry Corbit, Herb Derr, Luciano Dorneles, Kevin Harvey, Wally Hayes, Peter Martin and a slew of other makers--some truely spectacular blades...



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 6:09 pm 
Charleton 7 1/2" bowie blanks. This stuff is hard to photograph, both blanks are great, it's the lighting, angles and idiot behind the camera making them look different.

Image
Less foreshortening
Image


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 3:58 pm 
...speaking of knives that I wouldn't use but admire, this skinner is more sculpture than cutter.

Diving Falcon by Valentin Baretta
Image

*borrowed from the knifemaking forum on AccurateReloading.


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:38 am 
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I picked up a couple of Charlton knives from Rob Carlton at the last ELGS in VA.

A Capstick African
http://www.damascususa.com/knife_pics/v6.html

and a USMC Fighting knife
http://www.damascususa.com/knife_pics/v1.html

Mine look like the ones in the pictures, with the giraffe bone handles. He told me he hardens them to Rc 52 or so. He says the blades need more stropping and dressing than they need sharpening. He claims most people oversharpen the blades when they really just need dressing.

I was looking for a Randall style knife like ZeroG had, but he didn't have any finished ones on his table.



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:11 pm 
That Capstick is about perfect with those clean Loveless style lines; elegant, useful...all good. Congrats!

I don't have the hardness test file kit but standard Nicholson files kinda skipped across the metal, and drill bits got nowhere. Some work-in-progress on the first one. Guard: 416 SS. Handle: claro walnut (nice leftover from a big blank) and vulcan/nickel silver spacers. Pommel: 7075 aircraft aluminium. Nearly done, need to epoxy the pommel and hidden nut, saw off the hidden nut and rod flush and polish the butt.
Image


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:56 pm 
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ZeroGravitas,

Nice knife!

One question, and this may be dumb, but...did you thread the end of the tang for the nut, or weld or something a bolt back there for the hidden nut?

Thanks! Again, veryvery nice looking knife there!


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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:21 pm 
I cut a notch in the tang, then welded threaded rod into the notch and cleaned up the weld on the grinding wheel. I thought about tapping the notch for the rod, but the metal was wayyy too hard.

thanks, BTW.

Finished pics in this topic:
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=7693


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:10 am 
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Pictures of a new Ariel Salaverria from Argentina Nessmuk knife...San Mai steel with stag scales and copper/bronze mokume bolster and bead...$199 base and $60 for the mokume -- being delivered after two years -- not mine but photos are close...

Image

Image
Blade Detail

He's stopped taking orders for this year to catch up on his backlog...

He's making a Damascus salad serving set of large spoon and blunted fork and a meat serving fork with some dense, local, hardwood handle matching all three pieces for an anniversary present for my wife...


Image
Damascus Spoon

Rubin Calo, also of Argentina, is making me a set of wedding bands in titanium that looks like mokume with swirls of red, grey, blue worked into it...$110 the pair for one of my 20th anniversary presents (Apr. 2010) to my wife with the above salad set/server...

Image

Image



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 Post subject: Re: Charlton Damascus Knives
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:10 am 
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ZeroGravitas wrote:
Busted.
My steel knowledge is 2" deep and 20 years out of date. I asked my brother about one of those "number steels" last week while trying to figure out which blade to make into a project knife. His response sounded like advertizing fluff; "they're really hard and make excellent knives" :P

If Charleton's ready made knives are $200ish, then what the heck - GO FOR IT- The blade blanks I bought from him were $95 each...and the ugly knife guys at http://www.scrapyardknives.com make $200 knives.

The knife I use (abuse) to open cans, scrape dried grass out out of the lawnmower, and other non-cutting tasks is 440 stainless with a 'chute cord handle. I can lose it or break it, and I sharpen it with a file. So maybe my definition of working is bogus.

Here's the "number steel" blank that got my attention to waver from Charleton's stuff . I had to look again to see about the number: CM154

http://www.knifekits.com/vcom/product_i ... ts_id=1235


That Busse guy with his INFI steel actually is cryogenically treating a high chromium custom steel. That is why no one is able to really duplicate it.

Us cryo guys are a small group, we know what each other is up to. Cryo does wonderful things for blades.



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