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  1. #1
    Join Date
    1st December 08
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    Why Fi---ling the back of th blade

    I notice that many but not all of the sgians dubh have a row of serrations on the back of the blade.

    What are the historical basis of this?
    the reason for it?

    I do remember a story from "All Quiet on the western Front" where an old sargeant was warning the recruits that a "pioneers'" blade would get them executed out of hand if captured as it was felt that the "sawback" bayonet they used was dirty pool
    May you find joy in the wee, ken the universe in the peculiar and capture peace in the compass of drop of dew

  2. #2
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    23rd April 09
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    I have an old sgian that doesn't have the scalloping on the back of the blade. Nearly all of the newer ones I have seen do. I suspect it may be a modern fashion. I stand to be corrected.

  3. #3
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    6th July 08
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    Sgian Dubh Jimping

    I was told it is to provide a more secure surface for the thumb. When the fingers are wrapped around the blade, and the thumb along the back, it reduces the chance of slippage. This is another reason I think the sgian was a weapon only at last resort, since this is NOT (believe me, I have trained in knife fighting) a grip one would use in combat, but is not infrequent in skinning, whittleing, etc.

    Geoff Withnell
    Geoff Withnell

    "My comrades, they did never yield, for courage knows no bounds."
    No longer subject to reveille US Marine.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    3rd August 09
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    I've seen this referred to before as "engrailing"...a decorative effect achieved through the use of various files and sometimes coupled with some engraving along the flat of the spine as well. While it may have a utilitarian purpose, I think it's mostly just a decorative feature. I can definitely see how it may come in handy in blade control while doing complex tasks like skinning an animal, etc.

    In my reenactment hobby, custom made knives are very common. The more expensive models by top knife makers typically use this technique to make a well made knife even more decorative and visually appealing. I just did some searches online and could only find a few references to engrailing or engrailed knives. Incidentally, engrailing is also a technique used on decorative powder horns...the act of shaping the throat of the horn by using gouge chisels, etc.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -- Thomas Paine

    Scottish-American Military Society Post 1921

  5. #5
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    31st August 09
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    I have to agree with Geoff, with a bit added.

    Having the thumb there adds control and precision: more than you would need in a weapon, but something you would certainly wish in a tool.
    No Child Deserves to Live in Fear: [url]www.bacausa.com[/url]

  6. #6
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    Jimping seems to begin to appear on Scottish blades in the mid-18th century, and is almost exclusively confined to dirks. It seems to be a cheaper/quicker alternative to the "Cup and Dot" engraving found along the back of earlier dirks. When it first appeared on sgians dubh is a bit harder to pin-point, but it probably occurs, albeit infrequently, at about the same time. Certainly by the early 19th century it is not uncommon for dirks and sgians dubh to have jimping on the back of the blade. By 1840 jimping is seen on a large number of blades, and by 1870-1880 virtually all military and civilian dirks and sgians dubh display jimping on the back of the blade.

    Although any number of theories have been advanced concerning the jimping on sgians dubh, the most likely explanation is that it nothing more than a simple decoration on the blade.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    26th March 08
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown View Post
    Although any number of theories have been advanced concerning the jimping on sgians dubh, the most likely explanation is that it nothing more than a simple decoration on the blade.
    Though I'm not well read on this topic, everything I've heard from what seem like reliable sources tends to support the above.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    2nd October 07
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    Denver, Colorado- a mile high, baby!
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Deil's Chiel View Post
    The jimping on the back of the sgian dubh blade was for a utilitarian purpose, to scale fish caught for one's dinner, or at least that is what I was told by an old Scotsman when I asked him that question.
    I received a sgain as a wedding present. It's a very practical one. That's exactly what I use the scalloping for- it works great!
    "Two things are infinite- the universe, and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein.

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