Turn Old Metal into a Magnificent Steel Rose
Follow this simple guide to find out how.
Before we get into actually making this amazing piece, you'll first need some tools and gear.
Tools and equipment needed
- Scrap metal sheets
- Pair of compasses
- Wood glue
- Table saw
- Belt sander
- Nitro thinner
- Orbital sander
Step 1: Plan your design
Like any project of this nature, the first step is to plan what the final product will look like. So, grab some paper and a pencil and sketch out the rough design and size of your final steel rose piece.
Mark out a set of circles using a pair of compasses and sketch out the petals and other details of the rose on your paper. This is a planning stage so you can rub out and amend the design as you go.
With that complete, you can now cut out the designs using a pair of scissors. These will be used as your templates for the final piece.
For this piece, you'll need a series of about six rose heads of varying sizes and petal numbers. You can design and cut out as many as you like.
Step 2: Cut out the basic rose shapes from your steel
With the basic design now ready, we can now begin to actually make the piece. Grab your steel sheet and transfer the designs to it.
To do this, apply a layer of PVA glue to one side of the sheet and glue the paper cutout to it.
With the designs now in place, mark the very center of each rose head using a hammer and sharp chisel. Then transfer the sheet to your milling machine and drill a hole through the center of each rose.
With that complete, take the sheet to your band saw. Using it, carefully cut out the designs of the roses. Try to follow your designs as faithfully as possible.
To make the process as easy as possible, cut out each individual rosehead into a rough square. Then carefully follow the outline of each rose using the smaller piece of steel sheet.
Cut out around the petals, but also cut a small channel down the joins between the petals until your meet the corona of the rose.
With each rose cut out, transfer it to your belt sander. Work the cut edges of each rose against the belt sander to remove any barbs and cut marks as needed.
You want to get them as smooth and curved as possible.
Also, take the opportunity of greater control to cut off any remaining excess to match your rose design. Your main objective is to remove any remaining sharp edges and make the steel look as organic as reasonably practicable.
Rinse and repeat for the five other roseheads.
Step 3: Clean up the roses
With that complete, place the roseheads in an old plastic container, and submerge them completely in Nitro Thinner to remove the paper and clean up the metal.
Allow the thinner to soak into the paper, and then remove each rosehead in turn from the thinner. You should now be able to easily remove the paper templates from the steel sheets.
With the templates removed, give each side of each steel rose a good once over using an orbital sander. You want to make each side of the rose as shiny and polished as possible.
Step 4: Begin to forge the steel rose
Once complete, grab your blowtorch. Heat up some lengths of steel rod, and hammer the end into a beaten, slightly curved shape.
With that complete, take one of your smaller roses, and begin to bend the petals into shape using some tweezers. You may want to cover the jaws of the pliers with some tape to prevent them from unduly damaging the shiny surfaces of the flowers.
You will want to curve the petals inwards lengthways first to give them a sort of valley shape to form the rose's calyx. Once complete, transfer the rose to the rod you previously hammered into shape.
Thread the calyx over the rod through its central hole, secure it into place, and then weld it to the rod. Next, grab the largest rose petal piece, and weld that above the calyx as needed.
Next, take your next largest rose petal piece, thread it to the rod, and also weld that into place. Try to weld it slightly elevated from the larger petals.
Do the same for the next smallest petal piece. For each of the petals, pieces make sure they are not completely aligned with the previous piece.
Keep going for the last two remaining smaller petal pieces too.
Leave the welds to fully cool before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Bend the petals into the rose shape
With all the rows of petals now in place, we can begin to sculpt the actual rose. Using your pliers, begin to bend and shape each petal of the rose.
You want to curve the petals and slightly manipulate them at an oblique to the center to imitate a real rose.
Bend the petals upwards as you go and curve the inner petals around one another as you see in a real rose.
Keep working each row of petals and make them less curled, and more open. Also, loosen up the curling of each row of petals to the previous row.
Use images of a real rose to help you out here.
Keep going until all petals are bent upwards. With that complete, begin to crimp the top edges of each petal to make it look more wavy than straight.
Once you are happy, you can now begin to pull out the outermost edges of each petal to open up the rose. Keep working on the metal until you are satisfied with the overall look of the piece.
Refine the design as you go and keep going until the piece looks, more or less, like a real rose.
Step 6: Make the leaves
With the main rose now complete, we can move on to adding other details — like the leaves. Sketch out the rough shape of several leaves as best you can from images.
Alternatively, go outside and grab some real rose leaves and then trace their shape and size onto some remaining pieces of your steel sheet.
Trace about four, leaf shapes, or as many, or as few, as you want. Once complete, cut them out using your bandsaw as you did for the main rose petals.
With the leaf shapes now cut out, secure each one into a vice and bend them along their central lines to form the v-shape of the leaf.
With that complete, take each leaf and hammer a series of notches on either side of the leaf using the thin end of a hammer. This is to simulate the ribs and veins of the leaf.
With that complete, take some old nails, or cut small lengths of steel rod, and flatten off one end to attach each leaf too. Weld the leaves to the steel rod sections as needed.
Where needed, weld some more leaves to the stem.
With the leaves now complete, mark out where you want them to attach to the main rose stem and drill a hole through the stem.
Insert the leaf pieces into the hole, and weld them into place as needed.
Once done, your steel rose is now complete. All you now need to do is find somewhere to put it — or indeed someone to give it to!
If you enjoyed this metalworking project, you may be interested in something a little more ambitious. How about, for example, a Star Wars-themed outdoor burner-come-BBQ?
ReachBot, achieves large reach with a small footprint, accessing steep, vertical, and overhanging surfaces in Martian caves.