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The Sgian Dubh

Discussion in 'Koyote Custom Knives' started by Rotte, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    I got a second Sgian Dubh in the mail today. Just an awesome back up knife and general utility blade.

    As most of you already know, the Sgian Dubh design hails from the highlands of Scotland. Sgian Dubh is usually translated as "Black knife". The reason may be that the handles were often black or very dark wood; but, more likely, "black knife" refers to the fact that Sgian Dubhs were often hidden or secret knives and were considered sinister.

    I'm very excited that Christof has made a few of these handy knives; and even more excited that I own a couple! I thought I'd start a thread for discussion of the Sgian Dubh and a place for owners to post pictures of these beauties.

    Here are mine:


    My first Sgian Dubh is the upper knife with the black handle. The top edge is sharpened halfway back. They handle is very thin and the knife is quite light. Very comfortable for daily wear.

    The new SD below is single edged and has a heftier handle. It feels amazing in the hand and would be a fantastic back-up blade. I stropped it a bit and then used it too skin a tomato and cut up some dinner--this baby is sharp and handy.

    So, please post up pics of your Sgian Dubhs!
  2. pitdog


    Apr 13, 2007
    They look awesome, I really like them !!!!
  3. Snake Dr.

    Snake Dr.

    Mar 21, 2008
    Nice Knive's Rotte ! I like the Style of the Scottish Sgian Dubh, Christof has been making some Real Nice Rendition's of the "Black Knife", I got one on Order when I get It I'll be sure to add some picture's, Thank's for Starting this Topic and for sharing a picture of your Knive's,
  4. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008

    I think Christof has rally captured the essence of the Sgian Dubh. I've had the chance to visit Scotland a few times and have spent some time in museums there. Modern Sgians are fancy dress pieces made for ceremony. But look at some of the older pieces and it's clear the Sgian was a serious tool at one point. Christof is making real tools for real use and has captured the spirit and essence of the design.

    Snake Dr -- I've seen the pictures of yours in the Projects thread. I'm completely jealous of the white handle and blued blade (I had a similar design idea myself), that's going to be a great knife. Definitely post some pics when you get it!

    Pitdog -- you need one of these for sure.

  5. Rockywolf

    Rockywolf Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Hey Rotte, long time no see. I like the second knife a lot. I think it would be awesome with a black handle and sheath. Very cool.
  6. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Rocky, I've been lurking a bit, but I've been around. Oh, I forgot to mention Koyote Girl made two sheaths for these. One sheath just covers the blade--they are wet formed so they 'snap' into place--and are perfect for pocket use. The other sheaths are bigger and are designed to be mounted on a belt or vest. Very nice sheaths...the great stuff we've come to expect from Koyote Girl. I'll try to post a couple sheath pics later.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  7. Snake Dr.

    Snake Dr.

    Mar 21, 2008
    Hey Rotte, I Wish that one was Mine, I was just quoting the Thread and saying how Nice It was, I believe that one belong's to Hawkman In the Post right befor mine, I Think He's the Proud Owner of that one, Mine's going to have Ipe Scale's and an Etched Forged Finish,
  8. Koyote Girl

    Koyote Girl

    Jun 26, 2008
    yay for pics! I need a pic of the larger sheath for my portfolio, if you get a chance. I guess christof forgot to take pictures before mailing it out.

    Thanks :D
  9. koyote


    Mar 29, 2007
    I'm definitely working on these more. This was a purely intuitive design - I was having a conversation about them (thanks, Rotte!), did a bit or refresher reading and sat down with a beer.

    Over the beer, I was thinking about the various experiences I've had with sgian dubhs over the years and the things I've seen. I once saw a plastic handle come off while someone was trying to use a dress sgian dubh as a steak knife. I have seen a few that were good enough at holding an edge that they'd be used by re-enactors for decorating halls and helping cut tape and boxes and ropes- and I've held plenty that were hard to get a hold of.

    Right at that time I had been working on an Self Defense knife for dunefan and the palm heel and icepick grips were much on my mind. I couldn't handle the really small insecure grip styles, but wanted to keep a fairly low thickness profile.

    So I just started making the black one on a pure intuition base. That one was designed to be a bit more dressy than the more thick handled one dressed in canvas micarta, which is a bit more.....expeditionary.

    I have tried really hard to capture the essence of the black knife, and I want to thank you guys for your feedback and responses. This is far from the most complex thing I've done, but I think I feel the most accomplishment and professional pride from this design.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  10. koyote


    Mar 29, 2007
    The sheaths!

    I know we don't have a good full set of photos. But one of the areas I had been thinking about is where and how people who carry knives like that actually carry them. I've seen the boot top/stocking/sock carry a lot, but it's very common for one to be tossed inside a sporran or thigh pocket, worn in the cleavage or the cross halter outside of a dress, or just tucked into a belt.

    So the "standard" is the two sheaths- one Patriot, a tight fitting horizontal carry one (easy to rig for vertical carry with a strap or clip) and the "blade cover" style which You'd use to put it deep in hose or toss in a pocket.

    Sierra- Koyote Girl- is doing a really good job with these, and I love the results.
  11. hawkman


    Feb 12, 2006
    very nice blades Rotte .Christof sure has captured the essence of the sgian dubh . I cant wait to see mine in the flesh mine will be an every day carry Just cant wait to hold it .
  12. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Hawkman --

    The pics are awesome--great color combination. I suspect you will love it. Please post some pictures after you get it. Rockin' choice for an EDC.
  13. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Christof --

    Wood slabs look fantastic on traditional knives...on any knives for that matter. But with the Sgian Dubh, the slabs can be thin, wood might be weak if too thin. My black micarta Sgian has pretty thin slabs, but the micarta is very strong; I don't think there are any worries with thin micarta. Do you think there any limitations on handle shape if designing the Sgian with wooden slabs?

  14. koyote


    Mar 29, 2007
    I'm doing an ipe one for Snake Dr. - I have no qualms with ipe. As long as it's sealed it's a very hard and resilient wood. It's interesting to look up how it is used in bowmaking, for example.

    Osage orange I'd have no trouble with on the slightly thicker ones. For the woods like walnut, maple, myrtle or elm- any of the non oily woods- I think I might go for a solid soak in wood hardener or possibly a full vacuum stabilizing. Even then, I might want to use liners on them.
  15. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    I thought I'd throw out a comparison shot. I realized in my first photo there is no real sense of scale.


    The stag handled Sgian I bought in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was made by a local maker by the name of Graham. I don't know what the materials are. The blade can be sharpened to shaving sharp, but I doubt you could do much with it. I use it as a letter opener. It will slash through most tapes, including duct tape, like...like...like a knife through tape. Just a souvenir.

    It strikes me that the Gerber Guardian is actually a descendant of the Sgian Dubh. I might be wrong about that; perhaps it's just a diminutive dagger. But I suspect the Sgian Dubh runs in it's bloodlines.

    Of the three, which would you want with you if you were in a jam?
  16. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Well isn't that just Christof all over?

    Anyway, I'm very happy to show off your sheaths--love 'em.

    The first picture I call "Sgian Dubhs in Shorts". These are the sheaths I use the most. The knife can just slip into a pants pocket or day bag. I think I prefer the slightly longer sheath because it feels a bit more secure, but, truth be told, the shorter sheath works perfectly. And the tool work is very cool.


    The second picture I call "Sgian Dubhs in Breeks". These are really nice sheaths. Both can be worn on a belt. The tan sheath should be MOLLE compatible, although I haven't tried that yet.


    Great work Sierra!
  17. koyote


    Mar 29, 2007


    Now- There's a saying that there's "nothing new a knifemaker does that ain't been done before" and it's pretyt much true- I certainly don't think I'm the only one "reinventing" or modernizing the sgian dubh. I think I'm doing it in a very particular way.

    But I like the looks of the Graham- It's not the 'stan deployment style knife I made, but I imagine unless the steel is really nasty that it would be a good "gent's EDC" - something to cut salami and apples on a picnic and handle tape, string, and regular white collar chores. Which is certainly one type of sgian dubh! And it's really a pretty looking traditional style, I think.

    Yeah, if I was going somewhere where black knife was on my mind I'd want the middle one. I'm prejudiced, but- well, that's why I made it that way!

    Funny thing about the Guardian. I used to own one, and it did have that modern sgian dubh attitude, but it was a knife that always made me want just 5-10% more- especially on the handle. (and the blade is a bit thick, but I'm weird that way)
  18. dunefan


    Jun 22, 2003
    Hi Christof and group. I thought I'd show what self-defense knife Christof was working on that he mentioned earlier in the thread. It is not a great deal different from the Sgian Dubh design. I really like both styles and I have to say that the knife I have is a Hell of a cutter. I dressed it up a little by using 800 grit on the flats (I love to "improve" the knives I buy) and I think it would serve well in any situation.


    Don Todd (dunefan)
  19. Snake Dr.

    Snake Dr.

    Mar 21, 2008
    That Is Nice Dunefan, Tactical Excellence ! Thank's for sharing the picture of that Beauty, Christof you did a Great Job on that one !
  20. koyote


    Mar 29, 2007
    Don- really nice and even finish work on that. The finish goes well with the handle tone, too. :thumbup:

    And yep, that's the knife I was working on.

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