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"Wootz"
#1
Had one of those "aha" moments recently. Some of you know already that one of our distinguished Exchange members posts in other forums (or at least did so at one time) under the  moniker "Wootz". I've been in contact with some individuals in India recently (Hyderabad, Telejanga specifically) and learned that they claim that their region is the birthplace of Damascus Steel - except they call it "Wootz". Isn't that interesting?
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#2
Mike,
Speaking as the moderator of one of "the other forums where Wootz may have been active at one time", our Wootz is alive, well, and still posting.  Smile (and highly regarded)

Incidentally, your handle, "Mike", in some parts of the world means a tool used for very accurate measuring. (good choice)

Ken (Worthy and Worshipful Moderator of the Tormek Community Forum)
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#3
A little follow on to this story Ken and others: I'm headed to India and the Hyderabad region in a couple of months so thought that I would take advantage of seeing how "wootz" is formed into knife blades by skilled craftsman. To that end, I've been conversing on a "sort of" knife forum there and, I fear, am about to discover that it isn't done there any longer. Here is a sample of the replies I've received:

"Hello Mike, I have dabbled with knife making for the past 10 years or so and consider my self a hobby knifesmith. I am not too sure you will find professional knife makers in India as in the united states due to restrictions and various other causes. The village blacksmith would be you best bet but their expertise and knowledge base is usually limited to traditional agricultural tools and implements. Would love to catch up with you though if you could visit my state. "

Additionally: there seem to be a number of confusing restrictions on just what kind of knives that can be carries and transported legally. Another response:

"Any blade of length more than 6 inches of length is not permitted in India. As per law you can't carry them with you any where. But there are some points in the law which differs the first rule. Like the Kitchen Knifes and the Choppers of different purpose are usually more than 6 inches of Length and they are permitted. Blades used for Crop Cutting and other similar purpose is also permitted under agricultural tools."

 Very nice people but I'm afraid the I'm making little progress in witnessing a chunk of wootz steel being transformed into a beautiful blade.
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#4
Yeah well, don't feel lonely big guy. It's a universal quest. Believe me Mike, Ed Fowler, a man I count as one of my Heros, and greatest of friends, has been looking as intently as any man alive for about 40 years.

I could go on at length on the subject, but I have to admit, it's still an unexplained mystery IMHO. I've made blades that etched out to certainly resemble Wootz, but it seems to be something that can not be quantified.

It helps that Mr. Ed Fowler (and I) work with a simple high carbon steel. 52100 has unbelievable performance if you can simply NAIL the heat treat.

Some of the patterns of my etched 52100 blades are... hm... I don't really know how to convey the facts. I hope it's not too egregious to mention that you may find pictures with a simple search.

So here's a thought or two. Wootz may have been created from a small band of iron ore that had unusual alloys in place. This band of ore, which may have had some vanadium or other trace alloys, probably played out within an extremely small window of time, like couple hundred years.

Guess what. Mother nature and human error may balance each other occasionally. If you understand that it may be easier to comprehend God given gifts that can not be otherwise explained to this very day, some things can be extremely unique and otherwise quite unexplainable, even to modern science.

Seriously, JMHO.
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#5
(10-31-2019, 10:56 AM)Mike Brubacher Wrote: Had one of those "aha" moments recently. Some of you know already that one of our distinguished Exchange members posts in other forums (or at least did so at one time) under the  moniker "Wootz". I've been in contact with some individuals in India recently (Hyderabad, Telejanga specifically) and learned that they claim that their region is the birthplace of Damascus Steel - except they call it "Wootz". Isn't that interesting?

Mike, your post reminded me of an excellent video I watched a while back that documented the creation of wootz steel using ancient methods. Here's the YouTube link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP8PCkcBZU4).
The narrator makes the claim the origins of the steel can be found in Jordan, so may be you should pop in on your way to India Smile
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#6
Watched that video in it's entirety smurfs and very well done the video was. Of course I was disappointed in not being able to see "an authentic Damascus steel" at  the conclusion but the opinions expressed were very interesting indeed. This "wootz" thread has spawned quite a bit of back channel discussion here the past week and only yesterday I was convinced that wootz was merely a high grade steel exported from India and then turned into Damascus blades (with it's distinctive pattern) through the efforts, techniques and processes of  makers in other regions. The information presented in the video you provided blows that line of thought out of the water. Although the production of a wootz blade at the conclusion would have been good evidence of their theories and conclusions,  one has to keep in mind that, even without that evidence, the personalities involved in the making of  this video are not exactly your average bunch of YouTube yahoos - and far from it. 

I'm leaving the door wide open now regarding both wootz and Damascus steel. Thank you for this contribution!
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#7
Modern knifemakers might have recovered the lost secret of wootz making, I only have to say that the modern reinvented "wootz" is separate to the unbeatable fascination of antique steels and weapons made of them.
When I grasp a a 300+ year old sword or knife that is still battle-ready I feel my heart rate pumping up, but when I handle a modern "wootz" steel knife I feel nothing but cold curiosity.

I am lucky to have in my collection 2 antique swords and one knife of genuine wootz, one of them is wootz of rare and highly valued pattern kirk narduban - the ladder of the Prophet, shown on the photo below

[Image: wootz.jpg]

Another is a North Indian Talwar, the marking reads  "Kishangarh Batallion #103"
Kishangarh is a city and a municipality in Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Still crazy sharp, by the laser protractor the edge is 13 dps (26 degrees included).

[Image: wootz1.jpg]

[Image: wootz2.jpg]

[Image: wootz3.jpg]

The seller swears the man on the next photo was the late owner of this Talwar:
[Image: wootz4.jpg]\

The wootz knife I have has handle made of femur, carved with peacocks:
[Image: wootz5.jpg]
[Image: wootz6.jpg]
http://knifeGrinders.com.au
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#8
Mr. KG, interesting post.  Thanks.  Any idea as to the hardness of any of those "Wootz" blades?  Performance wise, how do you think they would compare to modern steel blades?  Do you think they are just very good "for their time" or do you think would actually hold their own in comparison to modern "super steel" blades.
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#9
(11-16-2019, 09:17 PM)grepper Wrote: Mr. KG, interesting post.  Thanks.  Any idea as to the hardness of any of those "Wootz" blades?  Performance wise, how do you think they would compare to modern steel blades?  Do you think they are just very good "for their time" or do you think would actually hold their own in comparison to modern "super steel" blades.

Performance-wise they can be likened to Japanese Katanas. 

But for their time the wootz was history-making.
Do you know that the wootz sword stopped Alexander the Great (Macedonian) invasion in India?
The Roman swords were heavy and of low hardness - the cohort had a routine of those battling at the front retrieving at regular intervals to straighten their bent swords before they could continue fighting. The sword would not chop through even a leather armor.

Wootz was lightweight, springy and of excellent edge retention - the Indian warrior could deliver 2 strikes at a Roman while the Roman was in his 1st strike, and the wootz sword cut through the metal armor.
In the age of cold weapons being armed with the wootz meant the win.
http://knifeGrinders.com.au
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