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Robert Burns

Voivode Bowie WIP

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This type of lost wax casting was 100% new for me. I have done sand casting in the past but other than that it was all new. Due to my ignorance I opted for going to a more experienced friend's shop, if you don't know Matt Berry you should as his viking work is awesome and his castings are superb! Matt very kindly welcomed me into his shop and walked me through the whole process. The first thing we had to do was sprue up the waxes I had made. The sprue will create the channel for the molten metal to flow through.
 
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Then we placed them in the flasks that would hold the investment.
 
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Then after the investment was poured it had to go through the kiln at about 1300 F to burn out the wax for about ten hours. Once this was done we began weighing out the metals we would need for the casting. For the guard we figured about 300 grams and for the butt plate around 230 grams (this includes the sprue). So for shibuichi, a Japanese alloy of copper and silver this meant using 135 grams of silver! (Right around $85 at today's spot price).
 
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At this time Matt lent me his awesome pair of steam punk goggles and we were ready to cast.
 
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Matt had some of his own projects to cast so I photographed him to show the process, but I handled the casting for my project. After about ten minutes we were able to quench the casting and reveal whether it was a success or a failure.
 
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My casting was extremely successful with very few bubbles and all of the holes and slots in place and intact. Matt's also came out great, but no surprise there!
 
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Next I cut the sprues off and we cleaned off the fire scale and remaining investment.
 
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And after a little clean up the guard is fitting where it needs to be.
 
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And the butt cap needs more work still but it is not far behind.
 
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Well that is all for today. Thanks for looking and any questions or comments are welcome.
 
-Robert
Edited by Robert Burns
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Cool!  I only know Matt from Ashokan last year, but his work speaks for itself.  And in a very good way, might I add!  I'm glad you had the opportunity to work in his shop, I need to explore casting myself.

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Awesome WIP Robert! Thanks for the photo journal too.

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I have thought of doing what you are doing but, not even having an idea where to start always held me back. I did some reading on the subject but still didn't feel confident enough to give it a go. Love the WIP, this one is going in my personal file! This is a process I would love to see in person!! The knife is coming along very well! You guys make that lost wax casting thing look easy but somehow I bet there is a steep learning curve. Not to mention investment in the kilns and such!!!

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Great knife, and damascus.  I am with others on the casting, it is daunting and inspiring.  I look forward to the rest of this project. thanks for posting

 

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Thanks guys! Working in Matt's shop was a great experience, I learned a ton! But there is so much more to learn!

Now to the most recent update.  First I had to  begin cleaning up the casting with files, wire wheels, and carbide tools. I am trying to get a heavily aged effect with this piece so sharp precise lines are kind of the enemy.
 
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Unfortunately I got caught up in the process and did not document the refining process well, the above photo is the casting after running over it with a wire wheel.. But after getting the desired finish it was time to distress and patina the fittings. For shibuichi using cold gun blue followed by salt water with a heat gun gives the desired effect.
 
First round with salt water on the butt cap:
 
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And after several more rounds:
 
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Now that it is heavily crusted the patina is robust enough to be gone over with steel wool and some oil, leaving the desired finish for this piece. Then it was on to gluing everything together in preparation for peening the tang.
 
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Once the tang was peened, for the first time we have a structural knife!
 
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Now on to the handle carving. This is a celtic knotwork of a dragon. Dracula meaning dragon and there was heavy anglo saxon influence in Transylvania at that time.
 
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And now to start the carving:
 
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And that's all for tonight, thanks for looking!
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You really are going all out on this one.

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Thanks for the comment Garry I'm glad you are enjoying the build. :) Today I finished up the carving.
 
First we have the carving before it was scraped. I used charcoal and oil to darken the background.
 
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Then after a bit of scraping I added the touch of the dragon by very carefully heating the ivory to color the carving. I tested this method on several scraps before doing it on the actual knife and so long as you control your temperatures I have not noticed any ill effects to the ivory.
 
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And aside from a bit of cleaning and the odd touch up here and there the knife is pretty much complete. The sheath is going to be quite a piece of work in its self so the build is not over yet. I will be doing a stone setting on the sheath to make Dracula's broach and a few other odds and ends to add some character so stay tuned. Thanks for looking!
 
-Robert
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Thanks guys I appreciate the comments, I'm glad you are enjoying the thread. Here is today's progress.
 
Today was mostly about the sheath but I also wanted to finish darkening the background of the carving with the charcoal and oil mixture I talked about earlier. It wasn't getting the results I wanted (I believe because the ivory is so dense or the charcoal powder wasn't fine enough) so I opted for a leather dye and this worked very well.
 
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Then I had to practice stone setting. The plan is to place some blood red T-rex shin bone as the broach for the sheath. This is my first setting and I'll admit I messed this one up royally, thankfully I had multiple pieces of bone but here is the basic process:
 
First measure your bezel wire and bend to shape around your stone.
 
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Then solder it to the back plate:
 
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You then have to form the bezel wire over the stone to hold it in place. At this stage it became a wrinkled mess and I ended up cracking the stone by pushing the silver to far. So I opted for another piece of bone and changed the back plate and bezel finish to match the character of the knife more.
 
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Then it was on to the leather work, now I am no Paul long, but my sheathes are slowly getting up to a higher standard. Leather work certainly does not come naturally to me and I have to think really hard about it so don't take my method for anything but my method. 
 
First after tracing the blade and establishing a border I cut out the top piece of leather.
 
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Then I lay out the grooves for the overlay and the border for the silver broach.
 
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Then I shade the borders to create depth.
 
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Next I cut the top over lay:
 
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Then I texture the area behind the broach.
 
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Next to lay out the lower overlay and more shading.
 
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Then cutting the lower overlay.
 
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And then finishing the shading.
 
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Next I lay out the lines for the quilt pattern.
 
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Then I place the buttons:
 
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Next I stain:
 
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Then I set the silver broach with copper rivets.
 
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And that is it for tonight, more to come tomorrow.
 
-Robert
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The choice of stone was inspired.  I didn't even know one could get that!

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Thanks for the comment Alan, it actually sparked much of the design of this knife. I was at a local gem show looking for fossil ivory and came across a handful of these beautiful stones, once purchase I ran home to begin designing.  
 
Now today is nearly the last day in a mountain of work to get this knife done. In my eagerness to finish I did not document the process as well as I could have, but hopefully it will make sense. First thing I had to do was stitch the sheath together and trim the edges.
 
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Now with the structural sheath done I have to start on the frog or belt loop for the knife. I begin by making two copper rings from 3/32nd wire I fold about 28 inches of annealed wire on its self and twist it using a drill.
 
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Then I anneal it again, fold it and twist once more.
 
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This wire was then formed into the two rings.
 
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Then I made a series of straps and loops to finish the belt loop and with that the sheath is done! All that is left is to do the final cleaning and send it off to Caleb Royer for photos.
 
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YEEESSSS! I love it :D. I didn't see the vision until you put all the patinas on it. You should do a werewolf themed one next haloween:lol:

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Well the final photos just got in from Caleb and I think he really did the piece justice. Here she is finally done and just in time for Halloween.
 
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And the other side of the handle:
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Thank you everyone for following along on this build and Happy Halloween!
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This was worth the wait! That is one heck of a total package!

Two thumbs up! Man you rocked this one!! Image result for emoji bowing down

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Being super new to bladesmithing (as in I’m working on getting together tools to start) seeing pieces like this makes me hope that one day I could at least be half as good as this .... thanks for sharing!

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