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All that glitters is not Damascus...

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by , 07-24-2011 at 12:16 AM (1485 Views)
I've noticed on eBay that there have suddenly been a lot of Damascus blades crop up for around the 25 mark, and some of them are actually quite pretty. I can certainly understand why the newer folks might grab one thinking its a good deal.

I've seen a few of these blades recently which have been sent to me for honing (mostly Wildox branded) and these blades really will not take a shaving edge. The bevels come out a mile wide and wonky, the spines dont make contact with the hone and the craftsmanship stinks.... They have the Damascus steel but sure aint shavers! You can run your thumbnail down the edge and it'll deform and flake off.

More than anything I'm annoyed at the sellers for peddling junk to folks who are just after a good deal. I'd be pretty ashamed to put my name to anything like that but then maybe I'm just an ethical guy.

The words "Damascus" and "cheap" are rarely seen together, unless separated with the word "isnt" so thats one thing to bear in mind. If it looks to good to be true then it probably is!

But at the same time there are some great barains to be had on the 'Bay. Sellers like Taylors1000 who sell high quality blades for excellent prices are well worth looking at. I've snagged some awesome blades in very good condition for under 20 and they shave with the best of them. Check the SRP classifieds as well, there are always deals to be had there.

If you're after a Damascus blade... Well, there are places to get them. Guys like Alex Jaques, Mastro Livi, Buddel and Tim Zowada make awesome Damascus blades, but they'll be a bit more that 25!

So whats the point of this blog? I guess really just to say dont be afraid to search around on eBay and dont be afraid to pull the trigger on a good deal. But be aware there is some junk out there as well and keep an eye out for something that seems to good to be true!

Oh, and if you do find a source for awesome Damascus blades at 25 a pop, let me know.


  1. Ghostmutt's Avatar
    Heh heh,

    Gullible consumers that we are, we all get that sense of the unreal deal, when we come across the damascus steel straight razor for 25, I for one was swayed by the relative beauty of the razor, kind of knowing deep in my heart that i would end up with a pretty looking lump of metal in the shape of a razor, with little to no practical use. Well it does have one use, it shows how finely manufactured my 'Ebenholz' is!
    Also looks pretty on a stand in the bathroom and acts a practice razor for my stropping technique. So even though its about as much use to shave with as a bar of melted chocolate it has its uses.

    I have a mokume gane steel wedding ring and that was considerably more than 25, so i for one should have known better, eh you live you learn.

    I should have just bought the bar of damascus steel and whapped myself on the head with for thinking that this would be the 'real' deal.

    I guess i'll have to wait until my penny jar reaches 800 before a real damascus shaver is caressing my skin.
  2. Bruno's Avatar
    You know how some Japanese razors and knives say 'tamahagane'?
    I've talked about it with So Yamashita, and he told me something which surprised me.
    While the actual sale of actual tamahagane is very restricted and happens according to seniority, the word 'tamahagane' is not protected. I was told it was slapped on many things to help it sell, in the same way that those cheap razors use the word 'damascus'.

    Unless what you buy comes from an expert, or unless the item carries the name of a known smith and is traceable to Japan, you should be very careful to base buying decisions on that word alone. There is a lot of junk floating out there. Even IF it was made from steel that qualifies as tamahagane, it will not be the Japanese tamahagane which was made in the traditional ways. It will be modern tamahagane, made in big Chinese production runs to keep the cost down.

    Genuine traditional Japanese tamahagane used in things like razors is rare enough that due diligence is required before buying.
  3. Stubear's Avatar
    I guess with the increasing number of custom makers and restorers out there there are certain words that have become buzz words - Damascus, tamahagane, shave ready.... Anything unscrupulous sellers can slap on a blade to shift it is game.

    I certainly wouldnt point the finger at anyone and say "you should have known better not to buy that". Its absolutely not the buyers fault and its human nature to look for a good deal. But its the sellers who peddle junk, knowing that its junk, who get to me.