Intro: How to Forge a Rose
The rose is a powerful symbol of love throughout society, and it has been since the dawn of civilization. Show your valentine that they are a powerful part of your life by giving them a forged rose.
This is a fairly difficult project, but with patience and hard work, you will have a gift that will last a lifetime.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
For this instructable, I assume you have some basic blacksmithing experience and you know how to use a grinder and a welder. All you really need to know in regards to blacksmithing to attempt this project is how to heat, hit, and clean the metal.
For this rose, I used sections of 3/16" scrap metal. It is what I had available, and being that it is thick, I was able to shape the petals from more basic parts. This leads to really easy cuts and a more hand-forged look at the end.
Here are the measurements for the petals:
1" x 1.5"
Between 2" x 2.5" and 3" x 3"
.25" x 2.5"
3/8" round rod (length depends on how long you want the stem)
I recommend using a cross peen hammer for this project
Vise grips (or bench vise)
Brass wire brush
Normal wire brush
Dremel with grinder attachment
Use tongs that can grip the metal tightly. Flying, red-hot chucks of metal can be a rather large health hazard.
The measurements are approximations of what is needed to make the rose. Small variations are not a bad thing, but rather, they can help make the petals less uniform. Remember, this project does not aim to create a perfect object. It aims to imitate nature, to imitate beauty.
As you can see in one of the pictures, I made a hardy hole attachment out of a ball peen hammer. It is EXTREMELY nice to have for shaping the outer petals of the rose. The handle was metal, and it happened to fit the hardy hole well, so I made this specifically for shaping the outer petals on the rose. However, due to the large amounts of stress it faced, it broke by the end of the project. I recommend using an attachment like this, but only build one if you are not able to buy one. If you do decide to build one like this, BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS WHEN USING IT. make sure it has a strong weld and the base fits the hardy hole properly.
Safety should be your primary concern when blacksmithing. It is extremely fun to bend ordinary sections of scrap metal into useful and aesthetically pleasing objects, but it can be life threatening if you approach it without caution. The metal can be hot even if it is not glowing, so use proper safety equipment AT ALL TIMES.
Step 2: The Stem
The stem is the easiest part to make. Heat it up in the forge, and gradually hammer the entire length. This is for texturing and shaping the stem, so do not try to flatten it out too much. After you are done texturing it, clean one of the ends with a grinder for the welding ground. The other end will be where the rose attaches to it.
Step 3: The First Petal
This is the second most difficult petal to make for the rose because of the complete roll. If you are able to make this petal, you will be able to make the rest of the rose.
The goal is to create a bread-like/tooth-like shape before creating the petal's contours. Start by rounding out the top corners and leaving the other two flat. You can see what corners need to be rounded in the second picture. Also, the flat corners need to be angled in. This can be done by standing the petal up lengthwise and using slightly angled hammer blows on the flat corners.
Once you have the tooth shape, you need to draw the metal out a bit, while still maintaining the overall tooth shape. This is done by just hammering the petal flat on the anvil face. Drawing it out will allow you to fine tune the shape, while making it easier to form the contours.
After the petal is drawn out a bit, bend the petal down the length. You can choose to expose as much of the petal as you want for this curl, but I found that bending it about a third of the way down works the best. This is the same for all of the petals. The easiest way to make this bend is to use the cross peen hammer and hit the petal on the inside corner formed by the cutting table and the face of the anvil. The last picture is one that I pulled from later on in the rose in order to demonstrate this. You can also use the corner of the anvil face if your anvil does not have a cutting table.
Now that you have a nice curl going down the length of the rose, roll the petal. This can be done using a combination of corners on the anvil, the horn, and the tip of the horn. The important thing to remember for this part is to take it slow and cautiously. The first curl will want to come undone, so take some time adjust it while rolling the petal. Adjusting it after the petal is fully rolled is difficult.
Once you have the desired petal shape, weld it on the end of the stem and clean up the welding slag.
Step 4: The Three Other Inner Petals
These will be formed in pretty much the same way as the first petal, but they will not need to be rolled into a complete circle. I provided lots of pictures for these petals so you can see the rose grow.
For each petal, form the bread/tooth shape before forming the contours. Then, draw it out a bit. Once it is drawn out, form the contours, keeping where it will go in mind. As you form the petal's contours, make sure to check to see how it will fit on the rose. Doing this is as simple as holding it up to the first petal and seeing how it will look on the rose. If you do not like how it looks, either move it around the first petal or toss it back in the forge and continue to shape it.
Once you have the petal shape you want and you know where to attach it to the rose, cool it off and weld it on. After welding it on, clean up the rose and move on to the next petal.
DO NOT make all three of these petals at once. The shape and position of each one largely depends on how the previous petals fit. Make one, weld it on, clean it up, then repeat for the next petal.
Also, try to keep the rose balanced, like in the first picture. Place the petals in such a way that the final rose will be pretty close to circular. The placement of the first few petals will really influence where you will be able to place the rest of the petals.
Step 5: The First Two Outer Petals
Now we are moving on to more difficult petals. The outer petals are larger, and they should have a bowl shape to go under the inner petals. So, it is time to make some bread bowls.
Similar to the other petals, start by shaping them into small bread slices. Round out two of the corners and push the other two in. Then, draw the petal out. Once drawn out, form the first curl across the top of the petal. Again, the best results are achieved by curling it about a third of the way down from the top.
Now comes the hard part.
Instead of rolling the outer petals like the inner petals, they need to be formed into a bowl. This process is a time consuming process, and it takes lots of patience. This is where the ball peen hardy hole attachment is really helpful. Ideally, I would use a swage bock and a normal ball peen hammer for this part, but I currently do not have access to a swage block. Anyway, the horn of the anvil can also be used to help create a tighter curve in the bowl shape. However, be careful since the horn can mar the inside of the petal.
Also, be diligent about maintaining the first curl since forming the bowl shape will be more likely to distort it.
Just like the other petals, occasionally check to see how it is going to fit on the rose. Once you have the desired shape, weld it on, clean it up, and move on to the next petal.
Step 6: The Final Petal
This is the most difficult petal to make. Since it is the last one, it must be formed in such a way to complete the rose. If it is not done properly, the rose may look lopsided.
The process for making this petal is the same as the other two outer petals, but more time must be put into fine tuning the shape of the petal in order to cater to the shape of the rose. When I was making the final petal, I needed to cut a portion of the bottom off and grind down the bottom corners in order for it to fit snugly. Do whatever you need to do in order to get the right shape, but remember that it is far easier to shave a little bit of metal off than it is to over cut and have to start over.
Again, be patient with the metal. Do not try to form it all after one firing. Heat up the metal as many times as you need to, remembering to clean it off every now and then (and don't burn it).
One other thing to remember is that it is likely that the curl will be pretty straight. This can be seen in one of the pictures included in this step. When this happens, you must carefully shape it to curve around the core of the rose.
Congratulations, you can now move on to the finishing touches!
Step 7: Guard Petals
These are really easy to make. Shape one end to a blunt point. Then, flatten the petal to about half of its original thickness while still keeping the original shape. Finally, add some leafy details by gently hitting it diagonally with the cross peen hammer and curl it similar to the ones in the picture.
The dimensions provided compensate for having some extra material for the tongs to grab on to. After shaping the pieces, cut off the excess material, weld them on, and clean up all of the slag dropped by the welder. My design calls for three of them placed about 120 degrees apart from each other, but feel free to add as many as you want.
Step 8: Clean, Sign, and Personalize It
Now that the rose is almost finished, you must decide if you want to personalize it. Consider adding a date to it if the rose will be a wedding or anniversary gift. Or, inscribe a name or short phrase on the stem with the Dremel grinder wheel. For the rose I made as a wedding gift, I chose to personalize it by adding the wedding date at the base of the stem. I flattened the stem out where I wanted the date to go, and I used a set of number punches save the date.
After the rose is personalized, it is time to get rid of the welding slag and sharp edges. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the rose for sharp edges and unwanted slag. Once it is up to your standards, find a way to sign it. I chose to add a small signature on the bottom of one of the guard petals. Figuring out how to sign it can be an art form in and of itself. Take some time to figure out how you want to leave your mark since it will be on the rose as long as the rose is around.
Step 9: Finish It
Start out by firing the entire rose one last time. This gets rid of any shiny sections left by the grinder, and it gives the rose an even blackish color to work with. Once it has been fired, let it cool off and place it upright in the vice.
For the finish on the rose, I chose to go with a small coating of brass. This is done by heating the rose up past the melting point of brass and brushing it with the brass brush. The heat is supplied with a standard propane torch. This step could potentially be done with the forge, but using a propane torch allows me to finish the rose one section at a time. The heat from the forge could easily burn off the finish if you needed more than one attempt to apply it.
Use the propane torch to heat a small section of the rose. I broke the rose up into six total section. Three on the top and three on the bottom. For each run, hold the flame over the section you are finishing for about 45 seconds. Then, brush that section with the brass brush thoroughly and quench it when you are done. Repeat the process for the remaining five sections.
Now you have your very own forged rose!
Step 10: Enjoy!
Now that you have made your very own forged rose, you can give a gift that will last a lifetime. Make your next anniversary or valentines day one that your partner will remember forever, or show someone you care about that they mean a lot to you.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that it inspires you to pick up blacksmithing!