Sgian Dubh making course

What is a Sgian Dubh?

The sgian dubh is a very traditional Scottish knife.  It 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.

This Sgian Dubh Making Course will go through each stage of creating your very own sgian dubh which will be yours to keep or perhaps as a personal gift for someone special.

We 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 sgian dubh.  From there we will be polishing the blade and finally doing woodwork for the handle.  We will guide you through every step of the way to making your very own sgian dubh.

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

Sunday’s schedule is to make the grip and creating the leather scabbard and having your completed sgian dubh ready  for you to take home with you.

Saturday will be a more work intensive and tiring day than sunday but breaks are scheduled throughout both days.  Breaks are accounted for at the end of several parts of the process.

Schedule for the weekend

9:30amWelcome and induction with tea/coffee.
10:00amForgework – practice piece to get a feel for the steel and fire. Your second piece will be your main blade with a choice of a couple of different styles to make.
12:45pmHardening and tempering – I will explain and demonstrate the heat treatment process and why both steps are important. After I quench your blades in oil to harden the steel, the blades will be placed into the tempering oven to soften them slightly.  They will be in the tempering oven before lunch as this stage takes an hour.
2pmCutting and grinding. After your blade profile has been forged and is cool enough post-temper, it will then be time to tidy up and grind your blade to the final dimensions using the appropriate machinery.
3-3:30pmSanding and blade finish including polishing and sharpening.
10amArrival tea/coffee/juice and setup
10:15amplan and choose your grip material
10:30ammark, drill, cut and shape the grip to closely and securely fit your completed blade. Sand the top of the grip to a high finish and epoxy the blade into the grip, allowing it to set over lunch.
2pmSand the rest of the grip by hand to a high uniform finish.
4pmOil and polish the grip, clear the working area


I can only offer lessons for 1 student at any one time.

1x person £285 (valid for 2019 courses only)

1x person £310 valid from all 2020 lesson dates

Price includes all PPE (personal protective equipment) which includes as standard – eye protection (safety goggles and/or visor), gloves, dust mask, apron and ear defenders.

The price includes snacks and refreshments – bottled water (still/sparkling), tea and coffee which are available throughout the day. Lunch will not be provided.

Gift certificates for part or the full cost of the beginners course are available.

18+ only


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

We 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