How to Make a Steel Rose
Once you've put in some practice time as a blacksmith and gotten familiar with figuring out how stuff works, you can move on to cooler projects. Complexity usually isn't an issue as long as you're willing to do the research, practice a lot and work through the many failures that come with the trade. The steel rose project requires patience, so take the time to make a super-nice gift for thatspecial someone.
Planning and layout
Gather design ideas.Look at a variety of metal roses both online and in publications, the more the better. Look at some pictures of real roses too, to get an idea of how the real and metal roses correlate. Spend a bit of time up front looking at many designs.
Visualize all elements of the fabrication process.Visualize the end product, then use backward planning to visualize the needed starting materials. Visualize, also, the entire fabrication process that will give you the awesome metal flower you visualize. Consider also any jigs you might use if you really like your finished flower and want to make more. Jigs for individual flower parts like petals and leaf forms might be a good investment. They will certainly save time.
Acquire the necessary materials and tools.Use heavy gauge sheet metal for the petals and leaves and a metal rod anywhere from 3/16" to 5/16" for the stem. You will need a fastening method/tool for piecing the flower together, perhaps a welder. The forge used for flower-shaping can be a propane forge or a coal forge. You'll also need an anvil with a horn, a cross peen hammer or swage block, a ball peen hammer, a vice, channel locks, needle nose pliers and a jigsaw with metal-cutting blades.
Fabricate the petal shapes.Layout out some petal plates with four and five petals in a star configuration. These should have the same radius all the way around. Use anywhere from three to six of these petal plates for one flower depending on the steel thickness. A star with thin stems can be made as a bottom piece bent downward as sepals.
- Drill a hole in each petal plate with a diameter 1/4" larger than the stem.
- Cut the petal plates with a jigsaw . Leave at least 3/8" between the petal cuts to the hole in the middle.
Layout and cut the leaf shape(s).Leaves aren't necessary, but make the flower seem that much more realistic. Draw and cut the general shape of the leaf. It should be at least a 1' long and 1/4' inch wide.
Detail the parts.Heat the flower parts in your forge. Don't let any of them get hotter than an orange heat. Hotter might cause the metal to melt and you want to avoid phase changes of the metal.
- Detail a leaf with the cross-peen hammer, making a ridge from the tip to the stem. Add light radial ridges for scratch detailing. Flatten the stem end with the flat face (peen) of the ball-peen hammer. This will enable the leaf stem to wrap around the flower stem (rod).
- Use the ball peen hammer to make shallow bowls out of each petal plate.
- Rough up the flower stem a bit while it's hot for a realistic look.
Mount the parts onto flower stem.
- One at a time, heat a leaf stem and bend the edges around the flower stem. This can be faggot welded onto the stem using a wire feed welder.
- Weld each individual flower petal plate onto the flower stem, starting with the bottom one. Alternatively you can upset the stem while all of the petals are in place. If you use the latter method, rivet the top over the last petal plate. Welding is preferred, but if you don't have a welder these welds might be hard to do with forge welding.
Shape the flower.Heat the entire assembled flower. Bend the petals upwards and curve each into the middle using a pair of needle nose pliers. Do this plate by plate in one direction around the stem. You should only do two petals per heat to avoid creating stresses and fractures.
- You can leave the flower as a bud. For a full-flower look, bend the petals outward.
Perform the final finish.A wire brush finish leave a shiny, bumpy edge, which is a favorite. You can leave the metal scale finish, which is usually flat gray with some oxidation effects, or grind off the scale using a belt grinder. This needs to be done to at least a 400 grit for a nice shine. Note that you won't be able to get into the inside of the flower.
Video: Fabricating a steel rose.
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