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Flea Cowboy Roping A Steer Sculpture

Use these step-by-step instructions to create a metal sculpture of a flea cowboy roping a steer.

Project by Greg Quayle.

Materials and Tools:

22-gauge sheet steel
copper coated mild steel welding rod:
- 1/16"
- 3/32"
- 1/8"
- 3/16"
.030 mig welding wire
2-1/2" x 14" x 2-1/2" redwood
clear gloss spray lacquer
oxyacetylene torch
flywheel punch press
tin snips
table saw
table sander
welding safety glasses
protective mask


1. Stamp out 12 half-egg shapes (figure A) with a flywheel punch press (figure B).

2. Stamp a smile into one of the egg shapes.

3. Using tin snips, cut out sheet metal parts:

  • cowboy hat brim
  • tongue
  • horse's tail
  • mane
  • forelock
  • horse and steer ears
  • strips for girth strap
  • stirrup straps
  • bridle piece

4. Hammer the parts flat, fold and pinch ears into shape, curl up the tailpiece.

5. To create the cowboy flea head:

  • weld seam together two egg shapes
  • add a tongue
  • build up the nose using 1/8-inch rod
  • create eyes from 1/16-inch rod
  • create pupils from .030 wire
  • weld on the cowboy hat brim
  • form the hat top using 1/16-inch rod (figure C)

6. Weld together eight egg shapes to make the horse and steer bodies. Join the horse body together.

7. Weld on a neck with a 3/16-inch rod.

8. To create the head:

  • hammer the head piece flat
  • join to the neck rod
  • fill in underneath
  • roll rod and create the lower chin (figure D)
  • shape and fill in the jaws
  • add a bit and bridle mounting points
  • pop two holes for the nostrils
  • add eyes and pupils (figure E)

9. Create mounting pins in the vice. Add two front hooves using a 3/32-inch rod.

10. Weld on two front legs using an 1/8-inch rod and lean forward.

11. Attach the body and adjust the angle and posture.

12. Fill in the front legs, add shape to the legs using 3/32-inch rod. Fill in the hooves, ankles and knees and blend into the body.

13. Create back legs using 1/8-inch rod. Add hooves using 3/32-inch rod.

14. Fill in the back legs. Add shape to the back legs with a 3/32-inch rod. Fill in the hooves, ankles and knees and blend into the body (figure F).

15. Shape a tail (figure G) and weld it onto the body (figure H).

16. Weld on the hair and forelock.

17. Add ears.

18. Weld on a mane.

19. Create a bridle from .030-inch wire and a thin strip of sheet steel (figure I).

20. Create a saddle and shape with a 1/16-inch rod. Fill in as needed. Add a horn and a seat shape. Add a girth strap and stirrup straps.

21. Create cowboy feet in stirrups using 3/32-inch rod. Add legs using 1/16-inch rod.

22. Weld on the flea cowboy head and blend into the body with a 1/16-inch rod.

23. Weld on the left arm using 1/16-inch rod. Position the arm to hold the rope and reins.

24. Add a right arm and hand using a 1/16-inch rod. Shape in a throwing pose (figure J).

25. Attach .030-inch wire to a drill to twist to create the cowboy's rope.

26. Coil up a piece of rope wire, lock it into the vice, and weld it onto the left hand.

27. Hold in place and roughly shape the rope. Weld on the left hand and weld the rope to the left arm (figure K).

28. Create a lasso loop and weld to the end of the rope.

29. Add the steer's head to the body. Hammer the egg shape for the cow's head and weld onto the neck.

30. Create a rod shape for steer neck using 1/16-inch rod. Fill in both sides from a 3/32-inch rod. Add a hump on the back of the steer.

31. Back to the head.

  • fill in underneath
  • roll rod and create the lower chin using 3/32-inch rod
  • shape and fill in the jaws
  • add a bull nose ring
  • shape and fill in the nostril shape around the nose ring using 1/16-inch rod
  • add eyes and pupils
  • weld on horns using 1/8-inch rod
  • add ears

32. Create mounting pins in the vice using 3/32-inch rod and weld on two rear legs using 1/8-inch rod.

33. Attach the body and adjust the angle or posture.

34. Create cloven hooves using 1/16-inch rod.

35. Fill in the back legs and add shape using 3/32-inch rod. Fill in the ankles, knees and blend into the body and add hip bumps.

36. Form a pointy bottom and add a tail.

37. Weld on the front legs. Tip: Fill in the same as rear legs (figure L).

38. Roughly position both pieces of the sculpture together, adjust or bend the rope to suit spacing or action.

39. When sculpture pieces are cool, dip in clear gloss lacquer, or spray, let dry.

40. Cut a 2-1/2" x 14" redwood base piece on the table saw.

41. Sand the base piece on the table sander with 80-grit sandpaper.

42. Spray the base piece with clear gloss lacquer and sand prior to the third coat (figure M).

43. Clip 3/4-inch mounting pins. Position both pieces (steer and cowboy) on the base and press into the wood to make indentations. Drill holes with a 5/64-inch drill bit. Gripping above the hooves with pliers; pound mounting pins into the base (figure N).

Greg Quayle of Rocklin, Calif., received an acetylene torch set from his parents when he was just 13 years old. It has since defined his life's passion, being consumed by melting and welding comical metal figures. He invented his flea character while still in his teens and has been using it in his subject matter ever since. One of his favorite pieces is this metal sculpture of a flea cowboy roping a steer.


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