New Tool Alert!

New tool alert!!!  New tool alert!!!

Yes, many of you are just as excited as I am to have a new tool.  Especially one you invent yourself.

Mine sprang from the requirement to make a number of different kinds of leaves for a project I am building (more on that in another post).

My challenge was to make leaves heavy enough to stand up to the environment and still look native and botanically (somewhat) correct.

So I was off, creating something new!

The leaf blanks were started by drawing a number of different shapes and leaf designs on a computer so they could be cut with a laser.  Each of the leaves had to be slightly different to look more natural.

Then came the chore of making all the leaves look alive!  That requited the new tool!

press 1s

I have a manual press which was designed to do a number of mechanical processes (of which I have no knowledge, so don’t ask) which I have now converted to doing sheet metal work.  The press is supposed to exert about 2 tons of pressure when used properly, and can bend a lot of metal if used correctly.

So with my new tool in hand I was to become…the superhero…. Leaf Man!

Yes, I redesigned it as a leaf maker.

God made all the leaves in the world in one day…I quickly learned, even with this new tool, I was not going to be that productive!


press 2s


I had to start with a redesign of the business end of the press.

I first added round bar sides to the base of the unit, to give me a smooth surface to push against with the press’ arm.


I then made a small die which pushed down into that recess and would alter the metal. And thus a leaf was created.  As you can see, the process is not a complicated one but it sure saves a lot of time when you’re cold forging steel as opposed to heated and working on an anvil.  I have a lot of leaves to make, (about 25 for each Hosta) all of different kinds, (the Dogwood leaves are next) and this tool was going to save a tremendous amount of time.


Bend leaf s




Here are some photos of a Hosta leaf being formed.  I placed the Hosta leaf in the base and used the rounded dies to shape the undulations and gentle curves in just a matter of moments as opposed to the time it would take to heat the metal and work it with a hammer and anvil.

bend leaf 2s











The finished plant was welded to the stems and is awaiting sandblasting and color.

hosta 2s hosta s



















Here are some of the first Dogwood leaves I made.  I think they are going to be just fine.

leaf bend 1s leaf bend 2s












They use a slightly different die, but the operation is the same.







Now some of you purist will not agree that this is the proper way to work metal, but it certainly turned out fine for me. If you look at the leaves, I think you will see that it has been a successful experiment and I will be using this press to create a number of other leaves for this project as well.


If you think you have a good refinement, or you think this is sacrilegious… I’d love to hear about it.


Email me at


or use the form below to write you comment.



  1. Stephen,

    Great work on the leaves. My first thought was to hammer the leaves before I noticed how thick of sheet metal you used.



  2. Nice use of the press! It is a lot faster than hot-work. If you ever did get fired up about fancy leaves, here is a great book for that:


    • thanks Jim, That is a great book and a true resource for design as well as execution.


  3. Love em. You are the man!

    * God bless, Sylvia *


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