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View Full Version : what to look for in a used anvil



Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 09:07 AM
Kind of casually looking around for an old (or new) anvil. Have very little experience in working hot metal.
So what to look for? What to avoid?

Norman Bernstein
08-06-2016, 09:08 AM
What to avoid?

Hitting your thumb with the hammer.

jackster
08-06-2016, 09:18 AM
Sharp edges.

Peerie Maa
08-06-2016, 09:19 AM
flatness

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 09:23 AM
what about ring? is that over rated?

oznabrag
08-06-2016, 09:25 AM
There's an excellent guide in 'The Art of Blacksmithing' by Alex W. Bealer.

As I recall, it's a lump of wrought iron with a plate of steel welded to the top, so you want it to ring nice and clearly when struck. No dull, flat clank. That indicates the plate is separating from the lump.

You also want to have nice, crisp edges on the big, flat part (the nomenclature escapes me at the moment) These edges get used really hard when bending big stuff.

No broken-off bits, and Hardy and Pritchell holes should be in good shape.

With any luck at all, PaulF will be along to give you the straight scoop, and chide me for any misinformation I've foisted off on you.

Good luck, my man!

ron ll
08-06-2016, 09:40 AM
what about ring? is that over rated?


http://youtu.be/uFZoaTCrggQ

Gerarddm
08-06-2016, 10:06 AM
I was idly looking at anvil prices on websites a few months back and was surprised at how expensive a chunk of iron can be. Good luck.

Rob Hazard
08-06-2016, 10:13 AM
Could the top of a worn anvil be reflattened by milling or grinding?

oznabrag
08-06-2016, 10:17 AM
http://images.craigslist.org/00505_9NwfDVdzdLf_600x450.jpg

This is a really nice old Anvil. it's only 9in long by 4 1/2 in tall. It weighs about 8lbs. I don't see any markings or a manufacturers name on it. I am selling it for $75.00.
show contact info (http://austin.craigslist.org/fb/aus/tls/5717442323)


http://austin.craigslist.org/tls/5717442323.html

CWSmith
08-06-2016, 10:19 AM
Whenever I've visited a blacksmith I've been impressed, but it's hard work.


http://youtu.be/bSVna96acAE

https://youtu.be/bSVna96acAE

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 10:33 AM
Material is first on the list. NO cast iron, also known as ASOs, (anvil shaped objects), they are junk. Forged steel first, cast steel second. The only N. American forged anvils you'll find are under the brand name of Peddinghaus.

A clean, flat surface with intact edges. You can reface an old anvil with a welder and some hard facing rod, but it's a big job and best avoided for a few extra dollars when you're shopping.

Size, get the largest anvil you can find. 75lbs is about as small as you want it, 150lbs is better. Unless you need to have this as a portable tool, going even larger is preferred. The larger your anvil, the less energy you'll waste.

A bounce test is a good indicator of a well made anvil. A ~1" ball bearing dropped from 1' on the face, should bounce back to around 75-90% of the height from which it was dropped.

You'll find more than you need to know here.
http://www.anvilfire.com/anvils/

goodbasil
08-06-2016, 11:15 AM
A friend of mine who'd forgotten more about metal than most will ever know was looking at Asian made anvils in a store , he asked if they were hardened? Told they were so asked to test? Okay. So he ran his fingers across the face for flatness abd smoothness. Fine. Wacked it with a ball peen hammer of about 3-4 lbs. could feel the dip. Store owner was not pleased since it said hardened right on the label.

C. Ross
08-06-2016, 11:27 AM
Easy portability.
If used, check for coyote shaped dents.
Acme is a good brand.

http://i.imgur.com/z9WfJ4T.gif

jpatrick
08-06-2016, 11:42 AM
I was gifted a 140 pound anvil some years ago. The blacksmith who sold it to my friend (the gift giver) said I could take it to a machine shop and they would be able to mill it flat without removing all the hard facing. This guy seemed to know his stuff, his anvils were things of beauty…. but I don't know. Anyway, I'm not a blacksmith so I never had it machined. Having the anvil in its somewhat worn condition doesn't bother me. Sure, I'd like it to be pristine, but as it is the anvil is quite useful for many tasks.

I have this anvil mounted on a rolling stand that is made of steel. The stand itself probably weighs 100 pounds. The casters are lockable and make for easy movement. A necessity in my diverse shop.

Jeff

ps… why is this thread in the bilge?

paulf
08-06-2016, 11:54 AM
A good anvil won't be cheap. Depending what you want to do, 100 to 300 pounds. Names like: Peter Wright, Pedinghaus, Kolshwa, Nimba Eagle are all available.
Forged tool steel best, cast steel next, no cast iron.

Contact a local ABANA chapter in Hell and go to one of their hammer ins, there will be things of quality for sale "reasonable" in pick up trucks like a flea market.

expect to pay a couple hundred bucks/100 pounds.

Flat surface, 1/4 radius edge far side. 1/8 radius near side. clean Prichel and hardy, no cracks no dings clean smooth surface ring is over rated, but is a good indicator of heat treat. A forge welded top is OK but pay less.

J P
08-06-2016, 12:34 PM
Powder capacity.

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 12:38 PM
lol

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 12:43 PM
Prepare for sticker shock. . .
http://www.oldworldanvils.com/anvils/index.html

oznabrag
08-06-2016, 12:44 PM
lol

You are aware of 'shooting the anvil'?

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/7f/63/83/7f6383959d6dd83883e91cc0a3f9f32a.jpg

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 12:47 PM
of course. . .

when kat decided she wanted a small forge setup, shooting anvils was the first thing i mentioned to her :D
oh yeah, did i forget to mention, this is kat's forge - did i marry well or what???

oznabrag
08-06-2016, 12:49 PM
of course. . .

when kat decided she wanted a small forge setup, shooting anvils was the first thing i mentioned to her :D
oh yeah, did i forget to mention, this is kat's forge - did i marry well or what???

Indeed you did.

I didn't do too badly myself. :cool:

ccmanuals
08-06-2016, 01:26 PM
of course. . .

when kat decided she wanted a small forge setup, shooting anvils was the first thing i mentioned to her :D
oh yeah, did i forget to mention, this is kat's forge - did i marry well or what???

Most of us married well above our pay grade. :)

The Bigfella
08-06-2016, 04:57 PM
Make your own.

I was really impressed with this guy's whole operation. Bamboo twin cylinder bellows, etc. He's making farming implements. I'm not sure what he's filled the old bomb with... but it does the job

The old converting bombs into plowshares doesn't quite fit... but it's close enough

https://photos.smugmug.com/Thai16/i-LB9qLgz/0/X3/0g9-X3.jpg

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 05:44 PM
Ribbon burner forges are cool.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26HyA9RqxRg

JayInOz
08-06-2016, 07:16 PM
I paid five hundred dollars for my 220 pound anvil- it's in good order and that size new here is $1,400. My old anvil had mushroomed so much at the edges that it was almost impossible to get a square bend. The face (top) of an anvil is hardened but the small step down between face and horn isn't- it's for cutting without damaging tools. You need a hardy hole- the square one- and the tools to fit it. The small round pritchel hole is for bending, for hammering in a hold fast, but mostly to allow the point of a tool to pass through the piece of hot metal you're punching for pins, hinges etc.
I make the charcoal for my forge- stringy bark has always been considered the best around here- you can get a small stringy bark fire hot enough to slump the cast iron grate in a stove. My bellows are "Alldays and Onions"- mine were made in 1861 but the company has been going since around 1650- the longest running manufacturing company in Britain. I will be adding a small electric blower this year though- the present need to constantly bring the fire back up to heat adds a lot of time to a job. JayInOz

Vince Brennan
08-06-2016, 08:31 PM
I've had two anvils... one I found in an old barn with the remains of a charcoal forge... that one cost $10... they paid me to haul it out. The best one was one my father made from a section of rail. He was a Master Machinist for the Reading Railroad and needed a small anvil occasionally, so he took a two foot section of train rail and trimmed it to be a miniature anvil, with the crowsfoot base amidships and used to fasten it to a large balk of timber. He could do the most delicate metalwork using it... I, unfortunately, have no artistry in metalwork. Damned if I can say where either of them are now.

Hugh Conway
08-06-2016, 08:39 PM
Free shipping.

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 08:45 PM
:D ...

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 09:01 PM
This would be my advice. Use a big honking mill file to flatten half of the rail.
can i at least use an angle grinder instead of a file?

Jimmy W
08-06-2016, 09:14 PM
Is railroad rail tempered?

Jimmy W
08-06-2016, 09:21 PM
At the house in Mississippi, I have a Peter Wright anvil that is about 125 pounds. Someone must have used/abused that anvil for many years. I have no idea what my father paid for it, but probably not much. I need to get a photo of it while I'm there next week.

Jimmy W
08-06-2016, 09:33 PM
I tried to post this earlier, but don't know what happened to it.

I have a small anvil that my brother-in-law made from about a 1 foot section of railroad rail. I sometimes have used it for small projects. It has not been flattened at all.

Paul Pless
08-06-2016, 09:35 PM
Yes. It's forged steel, and tempered. . .that surprises me, i would've guessed rails would've been hot rolled, continuously. . .

oznabrag
08-06-2016, 09:37 PM
that surprises me, i would've guessed rails would've been hot rolled, continuously. . .

Hot-rolling is pretty much forging, and if a railroad rail were not hardened and tempered, it would simply mushroom into oblivion in short order.

Jimmy W
08-06-2016, 09:47 PM
I have walked along tracks where there weren't pumps to grease the rails and the outside rails can wear quite a bit in curves.

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 10:18 PM
Rail will work, maybe, but it's not your best ad hoc option.

Find a big chunk of 4140, a 6" round x 5" long is about 50lbs. Improvise a base, say a 2 foot length of heavy wall tube, add some ballast, and you'll have a nice DIY anvil.

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 11:05 PM
4140 is chrome/moly. It's about Rockwell C25 hardness, so you'd have to make it harder. It can go to C60. McMaster will sell you a 6" diameter 6" long annealed piece for ~$195 + shipping. It weighs ~.283# per cubic inch.

452lbs of 4140. That is 2.5" square stock being worked.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzYVk8XcfkA

Old Dryfoot
08-06-2016, 11:18 PM
Here we go, heat treating a stump anvil of 4140.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rA5rqf8nM4

It could have gone better. . . :D
But it did work.

paulf
08-07-2016, 12:16 AM
Actually, almost any reasonable used "good" anvil will work. The skill of the Smith is all important. Take courses from local smiths, learn to control the heat, learn to move the metal where you want it, get a feel for what works for you.
After a while you will have a solid idea as to what you want.
http://www.samuelyellin.com/history/work/dragonthumb.jpg

You will know when you are on to it!

Old Dryfoot
08-07-2016, 12:28 AM
^ There is your advice.

Canoeyawl
08-07-2016, 02:24 AM
I have a stack of 4" thick, 48" square plates of 4140 if someones wants an anvil you could turn one on edge.
shipping might be tough though. They are about 2500 lbs each.
I keep a small piece 24x18 on my shop table as a handy fixture/anvil about 500 lbs, it has an assortment of drilled and tapped holes to bolt various weldments to.

Ross M
08-07-2016, 09:29 AM
I have a stack of 4" thick, 48" square plates of 4140...

Sounds like an interesting story in itself

Old Dryfoot
08-07-2016, 12:29 PM
I have a stack of 4" thick, 48" square plates of 4140 if someones wants an anvil you could turn one on edge.
shipping might be tough though. They are about 2500 lbs each.
I keep a small piece 24x18 on my shop table as a handy fixture/anvil about 500 lbs, it has an assortment of drilled and tapped holes to bolt various weldments to.

From one piece you could make an anvil, several swage blocks, a dozen or so hammers, and a whole bunch of other stuff. . .
A blacksmithing starter kit.

paulf
08-07-2016, 01:01 PM
From one piece you could make an anvil, several swage blocks, a dozen or so hammers, and a whole bunch of other stuff. . .
A blacksmithing starter kit.

Just handling, cutting and heat treating plate that size requires industrial tools!

Michael D. Storey
08-07-2016, 04:08 PM
This would be my advice. Use a big honking mill file to flatten half of the rail. Use RR spikes to mount it on an 8x8.

Let this be your anvil until you get a good idea of how much you'd use a real one. There's nothing worse than a 300#+ chunk of metal sitting around taking up space in your shop if you don't use it.I have a piece of heavy rail that I keep in a box of sand. I don't like the casters idea myself. A box with a good flat base filled with sand holds it just right, and in my pin allows maximum wham to be absorbed by the metal. BTW I was taught that the hammer was called a beater. Anyone else heard that?

Canoeyawl
08-07-2016, 05:43 PM
Just handling, cutting and heat treating plate that size requires industrial tools!

Cutting and welding it can be interesting. It is easy to harden it by mistake, (you can do that by running a drill bit too fast! or using a cutting torch. Both cutting and welding, the edges of the cut will be quenched by the mass of the plate) and then it becomes problematic to machine it. It is also tricky to anneal it it because of the size.

(For what it is worth the "stack" is 5 feet high, there are steel "stickers" between the pieces, it will probably go for scrap. It was purchased at 2 cents a pound)

Old Dryfoot
08-07-2016, 05:47 PM
Just handling, cutting and heat treating plate that size requires industrial tools!

Oh, no, nothing at all would be easy, or practical, or even expedient. The only real reason would be the satisfaction derived from working on and anvil you made, with a hammer you made.

I think of all of it though, the quenching would be the hardest.

Old Dryfoot
08-07-2016, 07:14 PM
This starts out as a 12"x12"x18" block.
http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=22155

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa189/haphazard6/P2042782.jpg%7Eoriginal

Stiletto
08-07-2016, 07:28 PM
That link is fascinating! Thanks.

Old Dryfoot
08-07-2016, 07:44 PM
I love stuff like this.

The Bigfella
08-07-2016, 07:52 PM
Excellent link. A friend has a very large anvil... and uses it as a garden ornament. He's an ex-banker, so knows a bit about value... and he's not going to let it go cheaply, if at all.

Another friend gave me some nice pieces of steel. A 4' diameter lay-up table, made of 3/4" steel. It used to be a lathe face-plate, I believe. Lots of nicely tapped holes for holding things down. The other piece he gave me is a slab of steel 2' x 1' x 1 1/2" - nicely attached to a hefty steel base, to bring it up to 8" overall height. It's to use as a precision lay-up base. I'll have to pay him a visit. That home-made anvil has me thinking :D

Michael D. Storey
08-07-2016, 09:29 PM
Not a fire extinguisher in sight.behind the camera

Dannybb55
08-08-2016, 05:56 AM
If you can find one, get a Fisher. They are as tough as tank armour.

dbrown
08-08-2016, 07:49 AM
This thread belongs in the "tool" section. It makes too much sense to be in the bilge.

jack grebe
08-08-2016, 10:45 AM
I've had two anvils... one I found in an old barn with the remains of a charcoal forge... that one cost $10... they paid me to haul it out. The best one was one my father made from a section of rail. He was a Master Machinist for the Reading Railroad and needed a small anvil occasionally, so he took a two foot section of train rail and trimmed it to be a miniature anvil, with the crowsfoot base amidships and used to fasten it to a large balk of timber. He could do the most delicate metalwork using it... I, unfortunately, have no artistry in metalwork. Damned if I can say where either of them are now.

I was wondering when that would come up. Yes, a good piece of rail is fantastic as an anvil.
I had one myself years ago when working for Reading Railcar in the old Reading Rail Road buildings in Reading, Pa.

A walk around the area and city will show you rails damn near everywhere.

paulf
08-08-2016, 11:07 AM
I started out with a rail anvil. The three in this picture are front, Nimba # 450, next Eagle #180, last Kolshwa #100.

Even have a fire extinguisher!


http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa66/farley_p/cammera_download014_zps6c575b71.jpg (http://s199.photobucket.com/user/farley_p/media/cammera_download014_zps6c575b71.jpg.html)