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Full time Blacksmith/ Damascus Steel Bladesmith Shop
11571 West US Highway 40
Cambridge City Indiana 47327
(765) 478-9343

Robert P. Shyan-Norwalt

Damascus steel was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking from about 1100 to 1700 AD. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be not only tough and resistant to shattering, but capable of being honed to a sharp and resilient edge.

The original method of producing Damascus steel is not known. Due to differences in raw materials and manufacturing techniques, modern attempts to duplicate the metal have failed. Today, the term is conventionally used to describe steel that mimics the appearance and performance of Damascus steel, usually that which is produced by the techniques ofcrucible forging or pattern welding.

The reputation and historicity of Damascus steel has given rise to many legends, such as the ability to cut through rifle barrels. No evidence exists to support such apocryphal claims.


Several theories on the origins of the term "Damascus steel" exists, but none of them may be confirmed definitively. Damascus may refer to:

  • The swords forged in Damascus. For instance, al-Kindi, refers to swords made in Damascus as Damascene. This word has often been employed as an epithet in Eastern European legends (Sabya Damaskinya or Sablja Dimiskija meaning "Damascene saber"), including the Serbian and Bulgarian legends of Prince Marko, a historical figure of the late 14th century in what is currently the Republic of Macedonia.
  • The name of the swordsmith. For instance, the author al-Beruni refers to swords made by a man he names Damashqi.
  • The comparison of the patterns found on the swords to Damask fabrics woven in theByzantine empire.

Back at the Forge, with a all new line of products
We are again back in the shop Tuesday through Saturday, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

We are in full operation. 

I'm putting about five to ten swords a month out in rebatted steel.  I lean towards late Romano/Celt, Migration, Saxon, Viking, Norman, and Crusader period arms.

I'm finding myself doing more and more helms for the Wuffingas Historical Re-enactment Club.

We are setting up a motorcycle saddle bag company that makes them covered in various types of armour.  Pictures coming soon.  :)

About the Smith.
Robert became interested in and started reading about general blacksmithing as a hobby in 1989, while working as a Corrections Officer at the "Farm," Putnamville, Indiana. Not until after he'd been in Live Action Role Playing, ...two years, starting in 1994, did he become a smith part-time with charcoal & coal to make his own period swords & knives, other cutlery, simple armor, and camping accouterments. Six years of trial and error, victory, and failure, reading hundreds of books, going to hammer-in's, apprenticing, becoming a member of ABANA, ABS, IBA, and with thousands of hours of practice, he opened his own shop in Indianapolis, in October of 1999. In the last ten years, his wife Dr. Melissa Shyan-Norwalt's career has seen them moved to Cartersville, GA, and then back to Indiana, -then to Missouri, and again back to Indiana.

As said above, ...with the economy tanking after 9/11, 4 moves, an open-heart surgery in 2003, and the present Recession of 2008-- he had to change the entire scope of operation in order to keep it going.

Robert says: "To save Hammer Forge and File, Inc., ...I no longer do pure-commission damascus, pattern welded swords, or cutlery of any kind. The market has been flooded with Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani damascus, driving the demand up, over-all, and, with thousands of new makers each year to the Blade Hobby, ...the price-per-inch way down. Yet the materials, gas/coal, and other shop expenses keep going up, up, and up.

He will, on occasion, do some blades, catch-as-catch-can, but doesn't rely on it 100% and now sells off-the-shelf only. He no longer deals with reenactors "only" as a primary "base," and has branched out into all mediums and genres, to include Fantasy, Collectors, Renn Faire, General Utilitarian, Artist Blacksmithing, Architecture, Furniture and Railings, Fabrications, and Sculpture.

Also, he works part-time, on one-of-a-kind motorcycle tanks, fenders, sissy-bars, and other accents in damascus and mokome gane.

Last but not least. he dabbles in banjo parts, jewelry, stock removal one-of-a-kind damascus billets, and utilitarian items in damascus, powdered, mosaic, and reproduction oriented pattern-welded steels.

Pictures of all the above soon.

Robert also has broken into the scabbard market, for those needing a historically correct scabbard to go along with their authentic blades. Also pictures and prices of each soon to come.

Please be patient, as retooling a business of any kind takes time. Being a one-man operation, running a farm, and attending to life with a commuting marriage is not an easy task at all.