Make Your Own Stainless Steel Rose Using Scrap Metal Posted on 23 Jul 09:37
Make your very own rose sculpture using left-over metal scraps from the local junk yard. Not only is it a great way of expressing your creativity, it’s also a thoughtful way of preventing perfectly usable metal scraps from ending up in the landfills.
Time estimate: 55 hours
Step 1 – Gather your equipment and materials
- Tungsten inert gas (TIG/GTAW) or metal inert gas (MIG/GMAW) welder
- CaNibble Professional Metal Nibbler
- Ball-peen hammer
- Angle grinder with abrasive cutting wheels (4 ½ -inch)
- Stationary belt sander
- Metal work bench for ground cable attachment
- Vise grips
- Bench vise
- Safety gear
- Bead blasting cabinet
- Dremel tool with polishing and grinding bits
- Bench grinder
- Hydraulic press machine
- 20, 21, or 22 gauge Stainless steel sheet metal scraps, preferably taken from the end bin
- ¼-inch Bar stock (square or round)
- Stainless steel filler rod (TIG)
- Stainless steel electrode wire (MIG)
Step 2: Cutting the metal sheet into basic shapes
There are four basic shapes needed to create a steel rose: a) Petals, b) Leaves, c) Thorns, and d) Stem.
a. Petals: As the most ornate and visible part of the rose, the petals can be made in the shape of an ice cream cone. They need to be cut in increasingly larger sizes because they should get bigger and bigger as you go outward from the center.
The number of petals you need to make will depend on how elaborate and tightly packed you want your steel rose to be. An intricate steel rose sculpture will usually have about 30 petals.
b. Leaves: The leaves are cut in an elliptical shape with pointed tips along a large axis. There’s no required number for the leaves, and you can leave them out of the project entirely if you wish.
c. Thorns: These can be made with metal scraps left over from making the other parts of the rose. The thorns must be triangular in shape and measure ½ to 1 inch in length from the hypotenuse. The number of thorns needed for this sculpture is personal preference.
d. Stem: This part of the rose can be made out of any piece of metal with a diameter of about ¼ inch. You can use a square or round bar stock. Although round is ideal, a square bar can give the sculpture a unique look. The latter can also be sanded to a rounder shape if you prefer.
Another alternative is to create the stem by TIG welding four pieces of 1/8-inch filler metal rod together. Although this is time consuming and requires more skill, this process creates distortion from welding the filler rods, which in turn produces a more natural-looking stem. For a skilled welder, this process might take about eight hours.
You can shape the material anyway you want as long as you create these basic shapes. If you have access to a hydraulic press, you can use it to make clean and straight cuts while a stationary belt sander will help you create the rounded edges of the petals.
The CaNibble Professional Metal Nibbler Tool will also be effective if you’re using a lighter gauge sheet metal like 22ga.
A bench grinder and chop saw with abrasion blade will work just as well.
If you don’t have any of these tools, you can use a laser engraver or water jet to draw these shapes on AutoCAD and have them cut out for you.
Step 3: Creating the rose bloom with your petals
Fold two of your smallest sized petals in half to make them look like a hot dog bun. Slip the edge of one piece into the middle of the other then crimp them into a vise.
This forms the core of your rose bloom. From here, you can start with the welding process. Form each petal in such a way that it hugs around this core.
After shaping each petal, weld one side to the core, bending it to fit the contours of the core of the rose bloom, then welding the other side once you’ve achieved the shape your desire.
Bend the pointed tip of each petal inward to create the bottom of the bloom. Then weld it up and grind until smooth.
Once each petal has been welded to the core, don’t forget to sand off or grind the beads so that the rose bloom is tightly packed.
After you’ve formed a few layers from the core, start creating a lip on the top of each petal to give your rose sculpture a blooming effect. Alternate the placing of the petals so that your rose bloom won’t look too much like a spiral.
This is where you can truly get creative, so put your work bench, ball peen hammer, vise, and vise grips to good use. You’ll eventually get the hang of how the material behaves through trial and error.
If you do make a mistake, just know that metal is malleable, and that it can be fixed.
Once you’ve gotten the rose bloom up to the size you want, finish it off by welding up the gaps in the sides and bottom. Grind it clean before working on the stem.
Step 4: Making your stem
Hammer your bar stock and bend it slightly so that it looks more like an actual rose stem. Take the thorns and weld them into the stem. Then grind off the beads and use your Dremel tool to pull the triangular metal pieces into a more pointed shape.
After welding and shaping all the thorns, you can start working on the leaves. Here comes the tricky part: folding the elliptical metal cut outs along the axis into a V shape will help you create the leaves, bending the edges until they look like a pair of lips. Additionally, you have to bend them along the central ridge to create a more natural curved shape.
You can do this by placing each piece in a vise, with lips on one side and the ridge on the other, then hammering towards the ridge side. Then you can open the vise, slide the metal piece up just so, close the vise, and then start hammering again. Continue to do this until you’re satisfied with the shape.
After you’re done with the leaves, weld them onto the sides of the stem, then grind off the welds.
Step 5: Adding the finishing touches
After laboring over the stem, petals, thorns, and leaves, you can finally put it all together by tack welding the stem’s tip onto the bottom center of the rose bloom, then grinding the bead off.
From here, you can leave the rose sculpture as it is or polish it some more through sand blasting to create a smoother look.
When sandblasting the mouth of the rose bloom, the smaller petals might get heavily charred. As the petals get larger, the metal becomes more capable of dissipating heat and gets less charred. This gives the rose bloom a darker color in the center that gets lighter as it fans outward until it there are barely any sighs of charring.
You can also polish the thorns for good measure, and etch your signature or a personal message on the sculpture.
Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!