View Full Version : Refinishing damascus steel

jack robson
October 15, 2007, 11:24 AM
I have an old 12ga. double hammergun. It is in very poor shape,shattered stock,missing hammer very rusty. My question is do I work damascus steel, as in polishing ect. as I would a steel barrel? I know that the barrel has a pattern and do not want to polish it off. Thanks Jack.

Bill DeShivs
October 15, 2007, 12:38 PM
The pattern true damascus is in, rather than on, the steel.
Note: some guns had fluid steel barrels with damascus patterns imprinted on them.
Damascus patterns can be brought out by etching the polished barrel with a weak acid solution. Most knifemakers use a solution of ferric chloride etching solution mixed with water to etch damascus steel.

James K
October 15, 2007, 02:17 PM
I hope you only want to make a better looking wall hanger, as it sounds like the gun is not worth a lot of work or time and certainly should not be fired.

If that is the case, this is an instance where a good cold blue can make the gun look better and also show the Damascus pattern. Clean the stock, maybe find an old hammer of the approximate shape and it would look OK over a fireplace.


October 16, 2007, 04:43 PM
Check Dixie Gun Works for hammers.

Austin Cowart
October 17, 2007, 09:25 PM
If the damascus has a nice pattern I say take what’s left to a good metal worker preferably a blade smith and have him make you a badass knife you can pass down.... just my 2 cents

Bill DeShivs
October 17, 2007, 10:48 PM
The dasmascus steel used in shotguns is not suitable for knives.

Wolf Lies Down
October 18, 2007, 11:51 PM
--I'd dismantle the weapon completely (here's where a set of real gunsmith's screwdrivers comes in handy) and scour the whole gun with 000 or 0000 steel wool and plain old vinegar, which will help clean it up and slightly etch the steel, bringing out the pattern in the damascus. I would not use any stronger of an acid.

Take the other hammer to a machine shop and have them duplicate it in mirror image form. Try to get some springs and stuff from Brownells or some other supplier and buy a cheap stock that closely matches the gun and carve it to fit.

The gun may still be suitable to shoot if you shoot low-load black powder (or a black powder substitute) loads, but that's your call. Smokeless powder will blow the gun, even with very low loads of smokeless, because it burns differently than bp. Smokeless has a high spike on the initial explosive burn, which will weaken old guns like yours until they pop, which of course could happen on the very first smokeless shot. So, don't shoot smokeless powder in it, ever.

You can buy a very inexpensive shotgun shell Lee reloader from Cabellas for under $40.

Wolf Lies Down

James K
October 19, 2007, 12:06 PM
Hi, Wolf Lies Down,

I always advise against shooting any of those Damascus barrel guns. If the gun has good Damascus barrels, it is probably too valuable to take a chance; if it has poor quality barrels (and 95%+ fall into that category), then it is dangerous.

The difference between black and smokeless powder is not in the initial pressure spike but in the fact that with smokeless powder the pressure curve extends further out, with high pressure still remaining at the point where the barrel thins. Since this is the point at which a shooter will grasp the fore end, a barrel failure almost always trims the shooter's fingernails a bit too far back. With real bad luck, the thumb and part of the palm can end up missing as well.