Obsidian Sgian Dubh

Obsidian Bladed Sgian DubhHere’s a very interesting commission I undertook for David, a Geologist from Canada, who wished to a have a Sgian Dubh made with an obsidian blade (obsidian being a volcanic glass) and incorporate a pommel stone from his family’s ancestral croft.
Obsidian Bladed Sgian Dubh
We were fortunately able to have a knapped obsidian blade made to my drawing by Tony Stanfield in Oregon and incorporate that into an Ebony handle I carved with a cross-hatch weave. I sent this down to a skilled leather worker, Terry Osborne in Northumberland who made a lovely leather sheath, wet molded to perfectly fit the knapped blade.
For the pommel stone, on a lovely summer’s day we took a family outing and visited the old croft at Caphluich, Tarvie which was built by David’s great-great-great-grandfather around 1800, although sadly now it’s just ruins. We sent a small rock from there to Renato Forno at Scottish Gemstones who cut and polished it to fit our Sterling Silver ferrule top band which was hallmarked with our maker’s mark at the Edinburgh Assay Office.
I fitted the lower ferrule band which I had engraved with a Celtic knot design and finished the handle off with silver pins to the front only for sake of comfort when worn against the leg. This has been a lovely collaborative project to work on and David has kindly allowed us to publish the email he sent when he received his Sgian Dubh;
“It is with great joy that I announce the arrival of SGRS16 to its new home in Canada! …I turned it over in my hands smiling the while. I slid off the black wet-formed sheath to expose the black blade (black in reflected light!) I held the blade up to the light and joy of joys, there is a powerful striped texture to the depth of the blade. The ebony handle is comfortable to the hand, the seven pins handily identify the front of the haft, and the carved ebony just adds to the overall effect. Rab, my sgian dubh is nothing short of magnificent!
Thank you so much… Cheers, David”

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4 Responses to Obsidian Sgian Dubh

  1. Bernardo Turnbull says:

    This is indeed a good idea and surely a nice piece of work.
    A few weeks ago, thinking of a symbol for the Mexican branch of the Turnbull Clan I thought of precisely an obsidian bladed Sgian Dubh. I just googled it and lo and behold! here it is.
    Congratulations to both, owner and artist.
    Bernardo Turnbull

    • David Wood says:

      Wow, a long time has passed since I visited this part of the site. You are correct, it is a beautiful blade, an heirloom and quite the talking piece when you figure out where all the parts came from for Rab to put it together. I just love wearing it, and especially showing it in transmitted light. The banding in the obsidian is stunning.
      David Wood
      Sudbury, Canada

      • Bernardo says:

        I myself don’t visit the blog often.
        Once again: congratulations. Not many people know that obsidian knives were used by the indigenous people of Mexico long ago.

      • David Wood says:

        Hi Bernardo. Thanks for responding so quickly! If you go through the background to my blade carefully you can find that the obsidian came from Northern California and was collected and napped to Rab’s design by a northwest coast native. That’s the best place I could find to get an unusual blade created and Rab had two fashioned. He sent me digital images of both blades and the one I selected had the better banding! The handle is African Ebony, and the leather work was wet-formed by a guy in England who usually make exotic and possibly erotic leather fashions!
        It’s a very neat sgian dubh all around and suits me to a tee!

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