Turn Old Metal into a Magnificent Steel Rose

Follow this guide to turn old scrap steel sheet into a wonderful steel rose.
Christopher McFadden

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If you are looking for a new project, and happen to like metalworking, then this steel rose might be up your street. Using some simple tools, and some scrap metal, you too can turn trash into something beautiful!

Follow this simple guide to find out how.  

diy steel rose complete
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Before we get into actually making this amazing piece, you'll first need some tools and gear.

Tools and equipment needed

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. 

diy steel rose plan
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose cut out templates
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose transfer design
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose drill hole
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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.

diy steel rose cut out
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose cut out each rose
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose belt sand
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose nitro thinner
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose remove templates
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose orbital sand
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose hammer rods
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel roses shape petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose weld
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose weld inner petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose inner petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Keep going for the last two remaining smaller petal pieces too. 

diy steel rose all petals in place
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose bend petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Bend the petals upwards as you go and curve the inner petals around one another as you see in a real rose. 

diy steel rose form shape
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose outer petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel petals crimp petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose open petals
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Refine the design as you go and keep going until the piece looks, more or less, like a real rose. 

diy steel rose final look
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose leaves
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose leaf shapes
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose bend leaves
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose leaf veins
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose leaf stems
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Where needed, weld some more leaves to the stem. 

diy steel rose leaves to stem
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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. 

diy steel rose leaves to main stem
Source: AVmake/YouTube

Insert the leaf pieces into the hole, and weld them into place as needed. 

diy steel rose weld leaves
Source: AVmake/YouTube

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?

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