Beginners Bladesmithing Course – Sgian Dubh

Sgian Dubh making course

What is a Sgian Dubh?

A Sgian Dubh is a traditional Scottish knife with a rich history. Originally a utility knife in ancient Scotland, it has evolved into a ceremonial blade often worn with kilts. The name has two interpretations: “black knife,” possibly due to the use of bog oak for handles, or “hidden knife,” suggesting its concealed nature. Traditionally, it was worn anywhere on the body but later became associated with the hose (sock) of the kilt.


About the course

On day one of the course, I’ll walk you through the fascinating process of crafting a Sgian Dubh, starting with shaping the red-hot steel using traditional forging techniques. We’ll delve into the crucial steps of hardening and tempering the blade, followed by grinding and polishing to your desired finish.

Day two will be dedicated to creating the grip, and if time permits, we’ll delve into crafting a basic leather sheath. By the end of the course, you’ll proudly possess your personalized Sgian Dubh, ready to be worn with your kilt, representing both tradition and craftsmanship.

Get ready for a hands-on journey into the art of blade making!

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


Upgrade – 2 person course

Take your course experience to the next level with the dynamic option to include a friend! Picture this: you and a pal, partner, or family member each diving into the world of blade crafting, unleashing your creativity in a friendly rivalry. Imagine the sparks flying as you forge your unique blades side by side. It’s not just a course; it’s a shared adventure, a chance to craft memories along with your blades. Upgrade your experience and make it a journey you’ll both remember!


Upgrade – San-mai blade (intermediate course)

In this optional upgrade, we skip the initial practice blade and dive straight into crafting your San-Mai (3-layer) steel billet using the mesmerizing technique of firewelding. The course then follows its regular progression until after the polishing stage. Here, we introduce a unique twist by etching your blade using a combination of acid and polishing techniques, adding an extra layer of uniqueness. While beginners are welcome, it’s recommended that participants have some prior bladesmithing or blacksmithing experience to fully appreciate and grasp the intricacies of this advanced process. It’s a hands-on adventure for those ready to take their bladesmithing skills to the next level!

What to wear

I 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.


What to bring

For your safety and comfort during the workshop, I kindly request that you wear old, non-flammable clothing that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Please avoid wearing fleeces, jogging bottoms, or clothing made from similar materials in the workshop.

For footwear, the ideal choice would be steel-toe boots, leather boots, or sturdy footwear. To ensure your safety, sandals or open-toed shoes will not be permitted in the working area. This precaution is essential, as no alternative can be offered, and it helps minimize the risk of serious injury.

Additionally, please ensure that your trousers cover the top opening of your footwear. This simple measure will help prevent any hot steel or shrapnel from falling into your shoes, reducing the risk of injury. Your safety is a top priority, so let’s make sure we’re geared up appropriately for a productive and secure workshop experience.



Fortunately, there’s a range of options for your convenience in the immediate area. You’ll find shops and cafes serving good food at reasonable prices. Additionally, there’s a small corner shop and a Sainsbury’s store nearby.

If you prefer bringing your own food, there’s a small seating area in the kitchen equipped with a kettle and microwave facilities. Feel free to make use of the available fridge to store any items you bring along. Whether you choose to explore the local dining options or bring a homemade meal, you’ll have the flexibility to make the most of your time in the workshop.

Bottled water & Teas/coffee are freely available



Social Media

Your comfort and privacy during the courses are priorities for me. If you have any concerns about the sharing of images and videos, please communicate them. By default, images taken will be used for a teaching portfolio on my website and social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram. However, if you’d rather not be featured or have specific preferences, let me know, and I’ll respect your wishes. I’m here to ensure your experience is enjoyable and aligns with your expectations, and I appreciate your understanding in sharing the course highlights on social media.

Please send all booking enquiries to


Photograph by Robin Mair


In this course, every step is tailored to optimise the outcome in bladesmithing and metallurgy. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that failures, whether large or small, may occur despite our best efforts. These could stem from unforeseen factors- including inherent flaws and stresses in the starting steel. Embracing the nature of smithing, we’ll do our utmost to address and work around any issues that arise, though this may not always be possible.

It’s crucial to recognise that the primary focus of the course is the experience itself, regardless of the final result. The journey, the skills gained, and the hands-on understanding of the craft are the true treasures of this bladesmithing adventure.

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