Forging a Pattern Welded Sgian Dubh

Last weekend I attended a knife making course with Ferrum D near Basel. I'd become interested in knife making and blacksmithing after seeing some youtube videos, and decided to book a course.

In order to learn as much as possible, I decided to make a pattern welded Sgian Dubh, which would allow me to learn a lot about the forging process, and metallurgy, as well as knife making.

A Sgian Dubh is the traditional Scottish knife worn in the sock with kilt, and usually has an elegant leaf shape, and a simple ornamented handle, although it wasn't traditionally a dagger, but rather a utility knife.

The first day of the weekend was spent creating the pattern welded billet, and forging the knife blank. We did a simple folded pattern, with 128 layers (8 layer billet folded 4 times). This involved getting the forge up to an incredible heat, plenty of flux, and a lot of power hammering and hydraulic pressing. It simply wouldn't be feasible to forge weld a billet like this without machine tooling - it would require a team of people with sledgehammers to make the same impact.

I shaped a small piece of the billet into a knife blank on the forge, but we didn't profile the blade on the anvil as more grinding would expose more of the pattern.

The second day was spent grinding the blade, heat treating and making the handle.

We made the bolster and pommel from stainless steel, and the handle from an African walnut. After a lot of sanding, the blade was glued into the handle and then pinned with a stainless steel wire.