San Mai steel, much like Damascus steel, is incredibly durable, even though forged and cut into blades. In addition, the cutting power, particularly of San Mai steel, is exceptional. The process, however, of making this type of steel is wholly different. The unique combination of the core of high carbon steel or Damascus and stainless steel is why it has such unique characteristics and looks.
San Mai steel originates from Japan. The Japanese term San Mai means three layers. And that’s the most accurate description because these blades consist of a center core made using hardened steel and two outer layers or edges made with more pliable, milder steel.
This forging method includes the best of both worlds – carbon steel and stainless steel. The carbon steel in the center creates a sharp edge for cutting and slicing. The stainless steel layers that surround the core provide excellent shock resistance—at the same time, preventing the carbon steel from being damaged. This combination of various elements is responsible for the unique attributes and legendary popularity of blades constructed of San Mai steel.