Folding and pocket knives are useful for a wide variety of purposes. Because they are used daily basis, they need to be built to last. Damascus steel blades are a great solution because they are strong, durable, and beautiful.
My Top 3 Damascus Pocket and Folding Knives
Here is your guide to Damascus steel folding and pocket knives, what to look for when buying one, the best knives on the market today, and how to care for your new Damascus pocket knife once you’ve found the perfect one.
Best Damascus Folding and Pocket Knives
So, let’s first check out some of my favorite Damascus pocket knives.
The Damascus Skyline Linerlock Knife from Kershaw features a three-inch blade, a black G-10 handle, a removable pocket clip, more than 400 layers of steel, and a stainless steel locking liner. The pocket clip can be repositioned to allow the knife to be carried tip-up or tip-down.
Though the knife is sturdy and the clip is convenient, it can be a little tricky to get the knife to deploy when I need to use it.
- The blade is among the smallest on this list.
- The handle is textured for a secure grip. It’s a G-10 handle, which offers military-grade strength.
- The pocket clip allows for easy carrying and access if you need to use the knife often.
- 400 layers of steel offer strength, stability, and durability.
- The stainless steel liner offers resistance to rusting.
- It’s difficult to pull the knife out of its locked position.
- The blade sometimes arrives a little off-center.
The Baby Blue Custom Damascus Handmade Folding Knife from Knife King features a 3.5-inch blade, a four-inch handle, a leather sheath, and over 200 layers of steel.
The knife is forged into a beautiful leaf design. It’s a classy knife that I’ve been complimented on several times when carrying it.
- The knife arrives well-oiled and wrapped in layers of plastic.
- The leaf design makes the knife perfect for gifting.
- It feels solidly built.
- The blade is very sharp.
- There is no locking capability.
- The leather sheath is durable, but absorbs moisture and could contribute to rusting.
- Though the knife feels sturdy and well-built, it also feels too heavy to carry.
The Fallen Leaf Damascus Steel Pocket Folding Knife from DKC Knives features a 3.5-inch blade, a four-inch handle, a leather cover, an included pocket sharpener, and over 250 layers of steel.
The handle is hand-engraved with a leaf pattern. I really like the aesthetics of this one. It’s got a special look to it.
- A pocket sharpener is included with the knife for keeping the blade sharp.
- The handle is beautifully engraved and contains no wood.
- The knife arrives well-oiled.
- The knife is small enough to carry anywhere.
- The leather cover may absorb moisture and cause the knife to rust.
- There may be imperfections due to the handmade process.
This handmade Damascus knife features a 4.5-inch blade, rose wood handle, brass bolsters, leather sheath, and over 500 layers of steel. The handle features both rose wood and camel bone, and the sheath is made of cowhide leather.
I found the blade to be sharp enough to easily cut clothing tags, dig out staples, and other handy tasks. The sheath is also very well-made.
- The knife is larger than other pocket knives, but still small enough to carry around.
- The brass bolsters are sturdy.
- 512 layers of steel lend stability to the knife.
- The handle features camel bone, but is mostly made of rose wood. This will make it more troublesome to keep dry and avoid rusting.
- The leather sheath will also retain moisture.
The Abalone Damascus Folding Pocket Knife from Tchochke Heaven features a two-inch blade and a five-inch handle. The blade features 33 layers of Japanese steel in a style known as Raindrop Sanmai. The handle is made of Damascus steel and features an abalone design.
I found the knife to be a little small for some tasks, but it is definitely beautiful, strong, and sharp.
- The blade is small enough to carry in the smallest of pockets.
- The handle is made of Damascus steel as well, making it very sturdy and very easy to keep clean and dry.
- The abalone in the handle combines with the Damascus pattern to create a gorgeous Damascus pocket knife.
- Stainless steel in the Raindrop Sanmai style makes the knife less vulnerable to rusting.
- The blade is very small, which may make it difficult to carry out certain tasks.
The Winchester Damascus Folding Knife from BlackBeardShop features a three-inch blade, a walnut wood handle, brass bolsters and liners, a stainless steel spine, and a leather case. The handle features walnut wood scales and buffalo horn. The leather case is embossed and has a snap button closure and belt loop.
This is a sturdy knife with a comfortable grip and sharp blade. The handle was a bit unstable, though, and prone to coming apart at times.
- The blade is small enough to carry, but not too small.
- Brass bolsters and brass liners add sturdiness and durability.
- The stainless steel spine resists rusting.
- Snap button closure and belt loop are convenient for securing and carrying the knife.
- The handle has walnut wood scales, which can retain moisture and rust the blade.
- Its leather case also absorbs moisture, potentially further contributing to rusting.
- The handle can break apart.
The Outdoor Folding Damascus Knife from KUBEY features a 2.6-inch blade, a shell handle, 67 layers of composite steel, a lanyard hole, a thumb stud, and Liner Lock.
The handle is made of colorful shell and includes a hole on the end for hanging on a lanyard and a thumb stud for easy opening with one hand. The Liner Lock keeps the knife locked in place when it’s open. The composite steel consists of VG10 steel and 420 stainless steel.
I found that this knife can handle many small tasks that are encountered day-to-day. The thumb stud allows you to open the knife easily, and it stays open thanks to the Liner Lock.
- The blade is a bit smaller than the others on this list, which makes it light for carrying.
- It’s slim and fits inside your hand well.
- The colorful handle and Damascus steel blade give the knife an attractive look.
- The composite steel contains stainless steel, which reduces the blade’s vulnerability to rusting.
- A lanyard hole allows you to hang the knife from a lanyard, which you can wear or carry.
- The thumb stud allows for easy and quick one-handed opening.
- The Liner Lock keeps the knife in place while you’re using it.
- The small blade may be too small for some tasks.
- The handle is made of synthetic colored shell, rather than authentic abalone shell.
- The blade dulls easily and needs frequent sharpening.
What is a Damascus Knife?
A Damascus knife is any knife that is made using a Damascus steel process. There are two main methods for producing these knives, which results in two types of Damascus steel: cast Damascus steel and pattern-welded Damascus steel.
Cast Damascus steel is made by melting together iron, steel, and charcoal. The alloy of iron and steel absorbs carbon from the charcoal, then it is cooled slowly and forged into blades. A constant temperature is maintained through each phase of this process.
Pattern-welded Damascus steel is also made from an alloy of iron and steel, but no charcoal is involved. Instead, the iron and steel are layered, then forged together by hammering at high temperatures and welded together.
In both methods, oxygen is kept out of the alloy. Cast Damascus steel is produced in an environment with little to no oxygen, while pattern-welded Damascus steel involves sealing joints to keep out oxygen. This quality makes Damascus steel blades stronger and more durable, since there are no “air pockets” to weaken the metal.
Both methods produce blades with unique wavy patterns. Each blade is usually custom-made, so the patterns vary from one to the next.
Advantages of a Damascus Knife
There are many benefits to using a Damascus steel knife, including:
- Aesthetics: The beautiful patterns on Damascus steel knives make them perfect for displaying in the home, showing off to guests, and giving as thoughtful gifts.
- Strength: The alloy of iron and steel makes the blade very strong and able to handle any task.
- Durability: Damascus steel blades are known to last for a long time, due to their resistance to impacts and rust.
- No Flaws or Impurities: As the blade is being produced, impurities are evened out, resulting in a smooth, flawless blade. The lack of oxygen also contributes to the smooth nature of the metal.
- Sharpness: Damascus steel knives maintain their sharp edge longer than other types of knives. They do not need to be sharpened as often and can cut almost any kind of material.
Damascus Pocket Knife Buying Guide
There are a lot of different Damascus steel folding and pocket knives out there. Here are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when looking to purchase one of these knives:
- What will I be using the knife for? Folding and pocket knives are intended for daily use. They can be used for a variety of uses, including self-defense, opening envelopes, cutting twine, string, clothing tags, slicing fruit, removing splinters or staples, pruning plants, and much more.
- What is the handle made of? The material that the handle is made of will affect your ability to maintain the knife, as well as the knife’s lifetime. Wood retains moisture longer, which will rust out the entire blade. A Damascus pocket knife is especially susceptible to rusting since the entire blade folds into the handle. Wood handles are also susceptible to very low humidity, which can cause cracking and separation.
- Do I love the design? Every Damascus steel folding or pocket knife will be unique in its design. This is due to the manufacturing process. There are many, many different designs available. Because Damascus steel is meant to last for a lifetime, you should choose a design that you will love for a long time to come.
How to Care for Your New Damascus Knife
Damascus steel is exceedingly strong and durable, but it requires a certain level of care. The following tips will help you maintain your new Damascus pocket knife and extend its lifetime:
- Wash and dry the blade immediately after use. Damascus steel can rust and become compromised from moisture, so it’s important to dry the blade thoroughly after washing it.
- Don’t put the knife in the dishwasher. Washing Damascus steel in this way will cause chips and corrosion. Always wash Damascus steel knives by hand and dry right away.
- Keep the handle dry. Wood handles especially retain moisture, which is why you should avoid a knife with this type of handle. If you do opt for the wooden handle, make sure to keep it as dry as possible.
- Store the knife in a dry place away from extreme temperatures. This place should be free of all moisture and humidity.
- Sharpen the knife every so often. Damascus steel doesn’t require sharpening quite as often as other types of folding knives, but it does need to be sharpened sometimes. If it’s been a while since the last time you used it, you should sharpen the blade before using it.
- Maintain the blade by coating it with oil. This will keep the blade from staining and protect it from corrosion.
- Dust can build up on the blade over time, especially if it stored for extensive periods. You can prevent this by polishing the blade every few months.
- Avoid using rough cloths, steel wool, and other abrasives. These will damage the blade of Damascus steel knives. Instead, use microfiber or cotton cloths.
Damascus steel folding and pocket knives can serve you well if you use them on a regular basis. They are strong, durable, sharp, and beautiful. The downside is that they require careful maintenance, and of course, not all Damascus knives are created equal.
It may take some time to find the perfect one, but once you do, you will not regret your choice.