Damascus Steel Sgian Dubh in Scottish Red Deer Stag Antler/African Blackwood,
Scottish gift, antler gift, wedding gift, groom gift, mens gift
The Sgian Dubh is a ceremonial dagger that is traditionally worn (tucked into
the sock) as part of Scottish Highland dress along with a kilt. The translation
in Gaelic is knife or dagger for "Sgian" and black for "Dubh".
This is one of my new range of Natural Antler Sgian Dubhs combined with
Hardwood in Damascus steel. I have really been enjoying making Natural Antler
Sgian Dubhs as i feel the Damascus totally sets them off so adding some of my
most popular hardwoods was a logical progression. It all adds up to a very
unique and stunning looking natural knife.
Damascus steel was first made over 2000 years ago and has a legendary status,
it is referred to as the steel of the Ancients. It is thought to have
originated in or near Damascus, Syria. During the Crusades, the Crusaders where
in awe of this steel that they witnessed slicing through their own lesser
quality swords. The exact process of making Damascus steel was lost around 1750
AD but it became very popular again in the 1970s with various craftsmen
claiming to have rediscovered the process. The process involves taking multiple
layers of metal and folding them together and bonding them by forge welding. If
done correctly the metalsmith will end up with a blade that is both hard and
flexible and of course have the swirling Damascus steel pattern that is so
sought after. Each blade has its own unique pattern, just like a finger print.
I have sourced top quality 15N20 Damascus steel blanks, they have a higher
Nickel content for extra hardness and are simply stunning to look at, an
absolute must have for any knife collection. The blades will be supplied
unsharpened but if required, they can be sharpened and will hold a razor edge.
If Damascus steel is ground to sharpen then the pattern will disappear, to
people unfamiliar with this metal, quite a distressing thing. After sharpening,
application of hydrochloric acid will instantly make the pattern pop again.
There is one draw back with Damascus steel, due to the high carbon content it
will rust and rust quickly. If the blade gets wet it must be dried quickly and
if stored for a period of time, especially in an environment that could get
damp, simply rub a little clear oil onto the blade to protect it.
I have made the primary outer handle of this Sgian Dubh from some Scottish Red
Deer Stag Antler. The antler came from a stag that roamed the hills above
Lairg, Sutherland, an extremely rugged and untouched part of Scotland. Antler
is one of these materials that is a joy to work, approximately the working
hardness of Oak, it responds well to careful working with both machine and hand
tools. My wood Sgian Dubhs tend to be very exacting in their shape where as
antler, due to its flowing curves can offer a more natural handle which is
exactly what has been achieved in this knife. I have left the antler just how
the deer made it, only sanding where necessary. When working this particular
piece of antler, there was a gorgeous smell of pine resin, this lad had been
thrashing about in Scots Pine, this is often where the dark colour on antler
I have combined the Antler with some stunning African Blackwood. All the
Blackwood i use is FSC 100% and comes from community-managed forests in
Tanzania, 100% of the revenue from wood sales goes back to the local people
involved. This true Rosewood has a beautiful grain, jet black streaks
intertwined with dark iridescent brown. It also has a high natural oil content
that makes it very resistant to moisture. African Blackwood is a very
traditional wood to be used in the making of Sgian Dubhs fitting the bill
perfectly for a "Black Knife". The wood is extremely hard and finishes to a
For a professional finish i have used some local Wild Cherry (Gean) as a
centre to lock the knife tang and the outer scales together. This piece came
from a tree that grew on the Black Isle, just North of Inverness. Like most
Cherrys, Wild Cherry is a lovely wood. It has a complex grain pattern, is
orangy brown with streaks of green and a golden iridescence. I used this wood
in some of my early knives and loved it so have been waiting very patiently for
this piece to dry for the last couple of years. Wild Cherry is now officially
my most popular Scottish Hardwood knife centre and goes perfectly with the
Blackwood and Antler .
To finish and protect the handle I could not use polyurethane varnish as this
would turn the antler yellow. So in this case i first apply a sealer of Shellac
and Cellulose Thinners only to the wood sections, this brings out the colour.
Then i apply two types of industrial wax, the same as used on my antler kilt
pins. This gives a hard wearing finish and an attractive sheen not dissimilar
to a polyurethane finish.
This Sgian Dubh comes complete with an attractive embossed black leather
sheath and a black presentation box.
The Sgian Dubh measures:
Overall Length 175mm x Width 28mm x maximum Depth of 20mm
Blade Length 85mm x Width 25mm, this complies with UK knife law sizing.
As with all my pieces i have applied my company logo "UBC" with pyrography, in
this case on the bottom rear of the handle.