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Some of you may know this and others not, but each year I like to do some type of Halloween themed knife, and while it may be early on yet in the year, I wanted to make sure it was done in time for this Halloween. A few years back I did my Van Helsing Bowie which was based around several elements of the Van Helsing legends/ stories. This is what I had come up with:
 
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Pretty much from the moment I finished the Van Helsing bowie I wanted to do its brother in the style of Dracula. Each time I attempted this project I found my skills lacking for what I wanted the end result to be, so now three years later I am making myself finish the set.
 
Now due to having other paid work to complete this project will go in fits and starts, but at this point the blade is successfully heat treated and ready to be polished and etched. I started this project over two months ago and only have time to work on it a few hours at a time, but by hell or high water I will have it ready in time for Halloween!
 
Now with all of that being said the name of this bowie (as the title of the thread suggests) is Voivode which was the title of Vlad Dracula a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler. Voivode translates roughly to prince or ruler in the native tongue of that time in the kingdom of Wallachia. The styling I will use on this knife is a blend of the historical Vlad Dracula and the modern myths around the figure. Hopefully everything will come together in such a way that it will embody the character we all know from tales of horror. 
 
So without further ado let's get cracking shall we?
 
This whole blade will be forged in a multi-bar construction from  1084 and 15n20. There are two billets that will comprise the edge, one being a jelly roll and the other being crushed W's. First the billet for the jelly roll is welded, drawn down, and rolled up.:
 
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It is then welded together, cut, etched (to check the pattern), then drawn down to 1 1/2" x 3/8" flat bar.
 
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Next we start on the W's billet:
 
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 I drew this billet down and re-stacked it six times to achieve a low layers Ws, this was then drawn done to 1" square and twisted:
 
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Each of these bars were 4 1/2 inches long and drawn down to 3/4" square. I then cut two pieces of jelly roll billet to a matching length. I then took a piece of the jelly roll billet and cut it in half length wise.
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Then with the top bar of JR in place it is fully encasing the crushed Ws:
 
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After forge welding, this is what the bar looks like. In the future with this type of pattern I think it would be wise to increase the thickness of the outer layers as they ended up getting a bit thin.
 
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 I then cut this bar in half and welded it to its self:
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I then cut this in half and forge welded it again to give four bars.
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And that completes the edge bar.
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Now for the other bars I wanted to have them be a more basic pattern so I about twenty layers and three billets of JR evenly placed throughout. This was then welded together, drawn out and cut for re stacking:
 
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Then to add some additional interest, I added .30" W2 in between the layers, this was then drawn out to almost 50 inches of 1/2 inch square bar:
 
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I gave these bars a Turkish twist configuration so every other bar twists the opposite direction from the previous one.
 
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 After being re-squared and ground clean on their mating surfaces we can now see how they will be ordered in the billet. Between the edge and back bars I placed a single piece of 15n20.
 
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I trimmed a bit off the ends of the Turkish twist bars to make everything even and tack welded it all together.
 
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Then it was all forge welded:
 
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The next installment of the thread will cover the blade forging. Thanks for looking!
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And this post should bring everything up to date.
 
First I forged the tang. My intention is to do this as a take down construction hence why the tang is so long.
 
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Now that I have something to hold on to I can cut the billet free from the handle and check the state of the welds.
 
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Looks good to me, now to cut the rough lines of the point. (This will allow me to bend the pattern back in line with the flow of the blade.)
 
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Now I begin the rough forging:
 
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And a quick etch on that corner piece to see some pattern.
 
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And finally a normalizing cycle post forging:
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Then I left the rough forging in a vinegar bath overnight to remove most of the scale.
 
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Then surface ground the tang and ricasso to .25"
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 From the sharpie lines on the rough lay out you can see I will be doing my usual beveled ricasso and also another bevel on the spine. To me these are the scariest grinds because if you mess them up you pretty much have to scrap the knife and they can mess up quickly.
 
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With the bevel done on the ricasso I can now move on to the spine.
 
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Then cleaning things up via hand filing.
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Finally I roughed in the clip:
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Then on to the primary bevel:
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And a quick sneak peak at the pattern near the tip:
 
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And here is the blade, as of today, successfully heat treated, and ready for the final polishing and metal carving to be done to the blade.
 
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Thanks guys! Joshua I wish it was only a day! But my hope is to have the blade etched tomorrow and ready for the guard which there will be quite a delay on I think. Here are a couple of last photos from today (my wife is away so I can work late into the night :) ) I wanted to add some metal carving to this blade so that is what I have done. This first side is now all finished to a base 400 grit.

 

[IMG] 

 

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Cool, lots of hot work!  I'm staying tuned for this one...

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Robert, this is amazing. I had to go through the patternwelding pictures twice because I got overwhelmed and lost track of what was going on.
How did you cut the decorative grooves at the base of the blade there?

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Wow, I lost count as well but, dude I am loving the result! I am tuned in to this one!!! 

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Thanks guys,  I was able to finish the carving today and do the etch. Overall I am pretty pleased with the pattern and look on the blade.
 
Here is the finished carving:
 
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And then the etch:
 
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Wow, this is amazing. I can't wait to see it finished. That nickel line between the body and edge is a great look. Your Van helsing themed blade is amazing as well!

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Awesome blade and great craftmenship as always. I feel proud as a romanian that you make a bowie inspired by Vlad Țepeș or Drăculea (Dracula by the foreigners) in romanian language was the name that was given by the people to Vlad Țepeș father, Vlad Dracul, because he was the member of an military-religious order, The Dragon Order - similar to The Teutonic Order or Sovereign Military Order of Malta,  that had as a symbol a dragon - named dracul by romanian people. From that symbol the entire family following the blood line of Vlad Dracul, Vlad Țepeș father was named as to be of Drăculești. 

And if i may, the corect term is Voievod.

 

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Catalin, Thank you so much for the correction and additional information! As I am making the knife I am learning more about your country's history. My plan is to replicate the Iron Crown of Romania for the top but that holds the knife together.

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On 8/13/2017 at 9:40 PM, ScottWright said:

Wow, this is amazing. I can't wait to see it finished. That nickel line between the body and edge is a great look. Your Van helsing themed blade is amazing as well!

OK.  I like what I am seeing! I got to ask though, why the nickel line?? I assume that is the line in this pic!

[IMG]

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Just a small update today. So when planning for this knife I knew I wanted to use shibuchi for the guard and but plate (in the same way I did on the Van Helsing Bowie), but with this one being more refined and complicated I decided to try my hand at lost wax. This is my first time carving wax and it really has been fun beginning to learn the process, definitely something I want to do more of in the future.

First I made the rough cuts in the wax and roughly fit the tang. I also cut my wax too short on the back part of the guard, but as I learned that is very easy to fix.

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First things first is to add back on the piece I cut to short and to thin down the guard a bit.

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Then I began rounding the junction between the (quilion?) and the center of the guard.

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Then I carve the first channel:

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Then I add in the second step to complete the ring.

 

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Now I am just laying out some lines for future carving to take place tomorrow.

 

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Captivating to follow the many facets of complications going into this one Robert.

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Thanks Garry! 

Another small update on the wax carving, the guard should be complete by the end of today, and the butt cap and finial should be done by Friday, then on to casting.
 
But here is where the guard stands after refining the one side and starting the other.
 
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Then carving mostly done on the other side:
 
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Lastly I seated the guard up further on the knife and now need to tweak and correct certain aspects on the center of the guard.
 
[IMG] 
 
Thanks for looking!
 
-Robert
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Wow, the carving looks great. I have never seen it used other than a few youtube videos and I'm very excited to see how it comes out. Will it be brass?

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Thanks Scott! This is all flying by the seat of my pants as I have no clue what I am doing with carving or wax, but it will hopefully turn out alright. 

Here is another small update on the knife. I am still working on the wax to have everything ready for casting this week or early next week. All of the fittings will be cast from shibuichi (an alloy that is approximately 25% sillver and the remainder is copper). To start off the center of the guard is finally roughed to shape.
 
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Then the decorative elements are carved in and the fossil ivory handle is finally fit up.
 
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Then I trim the end of the handle to size and to shape for the butt cap.
 
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This being my first time working with wax, perhaps this was the wrong approach but it worked well for me. To fit the curve of the but cap to the curve in the ivory I cut the curve into the wax pretty closely then heated the wax with a torch on a low setting and pressed the but of the ivory into the wax. This seemed to work well as it fit the wax very precisely to the fossil ivory and it also showed me exactly where to put the slot for the tang.
 
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I then cut the tang slot and trimmed off most of the excess wax.
 
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I then trimmed the thickness of the wax down to a more uniform dimension:
 
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I then began the rough file work on the butt cap. I am leaving a lot of meat on either side of the cap for post casting clean up. With this being my first lost wax casting I'd rather do more clean up later on than risk not having enough metal in the right places once it is cast.
 
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I then began work on the peen block/ finial, it is inset into the butt plate approximately 1/16th of an inch.
 
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I wanted the finial to have aspects of the steel crown of Romania in its style, a very cool story if you wish to look it up. The photo doesn't show the detail well, and while crude, I believe the carving will lend its self to the overall feel of the knife.
 
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And that's all for today, next is clean up of the wax and then on to casting.
 
Thanks for looking!
Edited by Robert Burns
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