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        Q: What happens when you put steel into water?
A: If the fire is hot sufficiently ... and there 's sufficient oxygen , the steel will burn . ( think cutting torch ) . The simplest answering is that the steel heats up . A cutting torch does n't `` burn '' the metal away ... it melts the metal along your cutting line . Very few chemicals can oxidize steel with sufficient ferocity to burn it with a flame . A couple of the exceptions that I have witnessed in my career were F 2 and ClF 3 . Of course those is extremely strong oxidizers.. Heating steel to a prescribe temperature subsequently either quenching it swiftly or holding the temperature a one particular level for a given period of time will change the grain structure and therefore the correctties of the steel . Think tempering . You learn lessons much better about that by researching steel stage diagrams . Time-temperature relations are the oldest and the majority common the manner of changing a metals strength and harshness . 

Q: Ways of cutting thin sheet metal, other than laser?
A: easiest would be a scrolling saw with metal blades . Though you presumably wo n't have accessing to one , and they 're n't very cheap .  If you 're ready to do it by hand you are able buy a jeweller 's saw with dignified manner throat depth ( how far the saw blade and the back of the saw are aside from one another , that will impact how deep you are able cut into a piece of metal ) . Or a fret saw with blades for metal .  Either saw will be roughly $ 15- $ 20 .   Look up how 's using a fret saw , in general people make the same sort of silhouettes using plywood , but you could use metal as well as longer as you 've got the right saw blades .   You 'll need an angle grider as well if you wish to reproduce the pattern on the steel , as the steel plates been obviously gone over with an angle grinder and probably a sanding disc ( those shiny streaks ) .   It would is rather easy art to copy . If you have photoshop or gimp you are able use the posterize functioning to get a pattern which will give you the analogous effect from any photo/portrait you want . Print out at desired sized , transferring to steel plate , used elbow grease with the saw and play games with colours ... .