Sgian Dubh making course

What is a Sgian Dubh?

The sgian dubh is a very traditional Scottish knife.  It is thought to have started as a day-to-day utility knife in ancient Scotland and is now traditionally worn with the kilt and is largely ceremonial but often a very personal blade.

  The meaning behind the name has 2 schools of thought.  Sgian dubh means “black knife” which some believe to derive from the common use of bog oak for the handle.  Others believe that “dubh” meant black in this context to a hidden knife.  It was often worn anywhere on the body but became a regimented practice for it to be worn in the hose (sock) of the kilt in later years.

I will demonstrate and explain each stage of the process throughout the course – from shaping your steel to the shape of a blade using forging techniques.  This will involve the use of heat and a hammer, grinding the blade with appropriate tools and machinery to hardening and tempering your blade and why this is important.

Saturday’s schedule is to have your blade forged, ground and polished.

Sunday’s schedule is to make the grip and time provided, make a leather sheath for it.  By the end of the course you should have completed your very own sgian dubh, which is yours to keep.

Schedule for the course

Day 1

  • 9am Start.  Introduction, coffee/tea and a brief overview of the day.
  • 9:15 Fire up the forge
  • practice piece for 40 minutes
  • break
  • main blade start

Just before lunch we will harden and temper the blade which takes a little over an hour.

  • Lunch – 1 hour
  • grind the blade
  • sand blade
  • polish
  • Close 5:30pm

There is extra time if required during certain steps

Day 2

  • 9:30 start
  • Choose wood for handle
  • measure and mark wood
  • fit bolster and main grip
  • grind to shape
  • sand and oil
  • if there is time, make a leather sheath
  • 5:30 close

2 Person course upgrade

Much the same as above, but this option, yourself and a pal/partner/family member can each make a blade each – let that friendly rivalry flow and fuel your creativity!

What to bring

We ask that you wear old clothing that is not flammable and that you don’t mind getting dirty.  No fleeces should be worn in the workshop nor jogging bottoms or clothing made from a similar material.  Footwear will ideally be steel toecap boots, leather boots or robust footwear. No sandals or open-toed shoes will be allowed in the working area as no alternative can be offered and you would run the risk of serious injury.  Trousers should cover any top opening of the footwear to avoid any hot steel or shrapnel falling into your shoes and causing injury.

There are shops and cafes in the immediate area that serve good food at reasonable prices, as well as a small corner shop and a small Sainsbury’s store.

Social Media

 I would of course like to promote images and videos of the courses in action. If you are not comfortable with this or have any concerns then we will of course be happy to address any questions you have, or omit you from the media on your chosen course dates. We want you to be safe and comfortable whilst having fun on the course!

Any images taken on the course will be used for the purposes of a teaching portfolio on my website and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) unless otherwise specified.

Please send all booking enquiries to

Photograph by Robin Mair