Intro: Blacksmithing a Metal Rose
So a little while ago, I made a bunch of metal roses to give out as gifts for people. I documented my process so I could share it with you lovely people! Hope you enjoy!
Materials you will need:
14 guage sheet metal (steel)
16" steel pencil rod (1/4")
Mig/Tig/Stick welder (something that will allow you to bond steel) (i used a mig welder)
A decent hammer
A chipping hammer with a well sharpened edge (a common welding tool)
Hand grinder with flap wheels
Step 1: Stencil
So first off, I made the stencil out of paper to get an idea of how large i wanted my petal sections. The first and smallest layer (or what will be the rose bud) is 3" in diameter with 3 petals. the second layer is a 4" diameter split into 5 equal petals. the third layer is a 5" diameter with 6 equal sections. the fourth AND fifth layer are 6" diameter with 6 equal sections. then the final leaf layer is 4" divided into 5 equal leaves. And lastly there is the option to do small leaves along the stem (you will see those at the end but they are the same process as the rest) This was all done with a compass and a protractor.
Step 2: Drawing Out the Pieces
This next step took some time but it makes it all worth it in the end. I just took the stencil and traces it using soap stone onto the sheet metal. As you can see, I drew out quite a few pieces but in order to make one rose there should only be a total of 6 pieces to complete the rose.
Step 3: Plasma Cut Out Each Piece
When drawing the pieces onto the metal i tried to put them as close as i could so as to not waste much material. Any of the small excess i ultimately used for the leaves along the stem of the rose. At the center of each piece i blew out a 1/4 inch hole to be able to slide the pencil rod through (all except the first 3 petal piece which the rod would be welded directly to the bottom of)
Step 4: Grinding Each Piece After Cutting
Plasma cutting can leave a bit of dross (solidified metal from the cutting process) which will require some grinding. I used a flap wheel on a hand grinder to remove it all. I would also suggest using some vices to hold down each piece while you grind it. I mostly just focused on the edges because 90% of the surface area on each petal will not be showing until you get to the bottom and larger petals.
Step 5: Putting Detail Into the Petals and Leaves
You will see the detail that I put into the petals and leaves in later pictures. This is where you need the chipping hammer. While the petal layers are still flat, I heated them up and then hammered detail into each piece rotating along the edge of each petal. this part is purely up to your artistic discretion on how much or little (if at all) you want to put into the piece. On the first two petal layers, I decided not to put any detailing on in order to save a bit of time. This is mostly because you will not be able to see any detail on those pieces because the rose bud is too closed up at that point to see it.
Step 6: Begin Forming the Rose Bud
I forgot to take a picture of the bud itself before i put the next set of petals on but this gives you a good idea of how things will work . Take your small 3 petal piece and tack the pencil rod right to the bottom of it. Then heat each petal until it is red hot and form them around each other. To heat the piece i used a oxy torch in a bench clamp. This worked but it ultimately took a lot of time. Since then i have built a foundry using this youtube tutorial by Grant Thompson .
It works a lot better because now i can just throw all my pieces in the foundry and keep them red hot rather than trying to heat each petal as i go. Since the rose is made out of steel, it will glow red hot but it should not melt as the foundry , when running off charcoal, shouldn't be capable of reaching temps hot enough to melt it.
you can also see in the photo how the petals will be attached to the rod (stem). with a hole in each piece, once the first 3 petal rose is welded onto the end, each piece afterwards will slide down the stem and be tacked on, increasing in size each step.
Step 7: Forming the Petals
WIth each set of petals, I used the oxy torch to get them red hot and then I used pliers and a hammer to form them around the previous set. When bending the petals into the piece, I tried to alternate petals in order for the rose to have a more even look. As the petals begin to build outwards, I started bending the tips of each petal out a little more each time in order to give it a more natural "blooming" look. This is probably the most fun part of the whole project because this is when you start to see the flower emerge from the metal. It takes some time and is slightly repetitive but it is interesting because no two flowers end up exactly the same.
Step 8: Adding on Final Details
Once the petals are all done, I added on the leaf pieces i had made. the 5 leaf piece slides down the stem just like the rest of the petals. I put a nice big bead of weld along the stem once the leaves were on to give it a bit more of a natural transition from stem to rose. I then heated the leaves and put a bit of a curve to them and welded them onto the stem. And finally (and this is a top secret trick so don't tell anyone), in order to make the thorns along the stem i turned the gas off on my mig welder. without shielding gas, the metal will bubble out. I used this to my advantage and put quick small tacks all up the stem and they bubbled out to nice little thorns. It is also nice because the thorns are not sharp. Once i had all my details in place, i heated the stem and bent it in a couple places to make it look a little more natural than just a straight rod.
Step 9: Final Product
Well, there you have it. A pile of metal roses. It took me roughly 10 hours to do 9 roses, but with the new foundry i think i should be able to cut that time in half. I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and I hope i have inspired you to do some metal work of your own! Thanks for reading!
JosephVD made it!