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Thread: dressing an anvil

  1. #1
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    Default dressing an anvil

    A local scrap yard was closed recently and there were several anvils going for 'if you can carry it you can have it' down in a field, no alternative way except serious tractor stuff which I dont have So I carried it and I've got it but it needs sorting.P1020630.jpgP1020631.jpgThe top face has a 5mm at least deviation in several places.. if it was a cylinder block it could be skimmed but there's a lot of of places …..and its not a head.

    so the thought of grinding away with a disc on a 250cm angle grinder doesn't appeal,, what about a slab of mild steel 20mm plate or take it to a machine shop and go for a major grind.. Any ideas
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Never gave any thought to worrying about how flat the anvil for hand forge work might be since the striking is not more than four square inches, often less depending on the hammer in use, and almost anything is flat enough for that. Were this a drop forge for making large parts, different story.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    I think you're right there….what am I worrying about…
    but you know how it is ...oooh I've got a lovely new tool and I want to at least start off with it in good nick no matter what might befall it in the future
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    The top of an anvil should be hardened. I can't imagine grinding it down.
    (Mine has a pretty good dip in it maybe 5mm and has never been a bother.)
    To test the hardness drop a hammer on the face and note how far it bounces back. Many/most of the anvils I have seen have been in a fire and were tempered, i.e. soft...

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil


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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by jonboy View Post
    I think you're right there….what am I worrying about…
    but you know how it is ...oooh I've got a lovely new tool and I want to at least start off with it in good nick no matter what might befall it in the future
    Just a quick note:
    Pick the best one...clean flat surface, clean and sharp edges, clean Pritchel and Hardy holes, clean and smooth horn...the heaviest one you can get.
    Take my word for it!

    You wont regret it.
    PaulF

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    The top of an anvil should be hardened. I can't imagine grinding it down.
    (Mine has a pretty good dip in it maybe 5mm and has never been a bother.)
    To test the hardness drop a hammer on the face and note how far it bounces back. Many/most of the anvils I have seen have been in a fire and were tempered, i.e. soft...
    So if you found an anvil for sale and it didn't bounce a hammer well, you might talk the seller down a bit. Is there any way to re-temper it if that is the case, or is it a doorstop?
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    There are, I suppose, different standards of work. My limited smithing was only welding the iron tires for carriage wheels and horseshoes. And bashing stuff. Anyway, a surface flat as a plane sole (anouther thing I'm just not that fussy about) was not required. I know there are so many finer crafty folk who need to get these things just right.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Hit that board a few times , it'll fit.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    As has been suggested, I’m not sure you want to do anything to it, other than to use and enjoy it.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    So if you found an anvil for sale and it didn't bounce a hammer well, you might talk the seller down a bit. Is there any way to re-temper it if that is the case, or is it a doorstop?
    A clever experienced heat treater can re-harden it for you if it isn't cast iron (junk) but it will involve heating the entire anvil red hot, quenching and then "tempering" or softening to the proper hardness. I myself wouldn't bother with a soft anvil, just thank him and walk away.
    (The use of the word "temper" to mean hardening awakens my inner pedant!)

    Edit; Older anvils are forged wrought iron with a steel face (maybe a half-inch thick?) hammer welded on, providing the best of both materials. I have heard newer anvils are made of solid steel like 4130, I have no idea how they might go about tempering the bulk ok it while retaining a hardened face. It would seem that a through-hardened anvil might just break? That and the "table" wants to be dead soft for cutting pieces without ruining your chisel. Lots of details to that highly specialized tool. I stole the one I have from the local blacksmith shop in 1957, carried it in home along with all the dies, the post vice, forge, and countless White Oak whiffle trees in my Radio Flyer... The shop had been abandoned since the smith died in the 1930's, the roof was caved in then and it burned down a few years later. Not even a trace of it now. Today I have several anvils of different types. A post or stake anvil similar to the op's, a set of 4 small jewelers anvils, a knee anvil or harness makers anvil, a classic anvil about 100 lbs, and a small drop hammer anvil (200+lbs) which just fits like a pyramid between your knees while sitting in a chair, it has a dovetail through the top for changing dies. I am definitely a tool nut!
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 07-07-2018 at 12:01 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quenching and tempering an anvil face is not that hard, oops, difficult conceptually. Actually manipulating 200 lbs of red hot iron takes a little forethought. This video https://youtu.be/b5noM1NnXeE is good for the heating phase, but quenching by hanging it on a pole attached to a trailer hitch and backing the truck into a pond isn't necessarily the best way to quench. After quenching, you need to polish the face and reheat the anvil slowly from the bottom until the face turns straw yellow (~400F?) and then cool it in water. The Modern Blacksmith has a page about making and heat treating a railroad rail anvil. I seem to recall that you can quench the top of the anvil (horn out of the water) until it is cool to the touch, then file a bright spot, watch the color come up to straw yellow from the heat in the body of the anvil, and then immerse the whole thing in water to cool. It works for chisels anyway. FWIW, Practical Blacksmithing says that any anvil with edges sharper that a 1/4 inch radius is no good. Well that's what the author thought in 1890.

    Yeah, I tend to go into too much detail... The face has to be cooled very quickly to get past the nose of the time temperature transformation curve. Carbon steels need to cool very fast to harden, so only thin parts can harden all the way through. Alloys like 4340, a Ni Cr Mo steel take a lot longer to transform, so they can cool more slowly and thicker pieces can through harden. Most low alloy steels are somewhere in between. Bottom line is that the hardened layer on the face can only be a few mm deep because the temperature will not drop fast enough at any distance from the surface to reach the martinsite start temperature before it has transformed to perlite or bainate. (Unless it is a modern 4130 alloy steel anvil.)
    A link to the page with this image is above:

    I enjoyed Gib's video, but I have a similar beat up old anvil that belonged to my grandfather so I have a mild interest in refurbishing it. Lacking a machine shop, I need a more hands on approach. The next video that came up was a little more my speed. If you have a heavy duty angle grinder and a straight edge, you can -- eventually -- do the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGal5WnhFJ4 Good detail on preheat, not much on the welding.
    4.5.JPG7 inch cup.JPG
    More on filler selection and why you might want a tougher filler rather than a hard filler. https://youtu.be/IKEG9YXjGgc

    Another take https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i2fYo9zF_g
    Better one on how to heat and weld: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AbkWTX2py0

    EDIT 2 semi off topic making a 260 lb anvil from scratch using 2" mold steel plates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzMLYeEcITM
    Bolted body welded to the face and horn. Hot to heat treated mild steel (Not very hard). Heat treating the face: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNCf1Rva-L0
    He didn't know which mold steel P-20 maximum working hardness is BHN 301 Rc 32. H-13 maximum working hardness is BHN 525 Rc 53.

    Warning?? https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/107...ting-an-anvil/ says that if you immerse the whole thing to quench because it can crack the face.
    Last edited by MN Dave; 07-07-2018 at 02:43 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Any local machine shop can flatten the top quickly and easily by just taking a pass on a Bridgeport.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    I love this joint. I'm pretty sure I won't ever actually have or need a real anvil, though my inner tool collector lusts for one. Thanks for the knowlegeable posts.
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Jake, it’d be awesome to see pics of your anvils. I have a little one. Maybe it’s a jeweler’s anvil.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Thanks everypeep. favourite reply Wizbang, made me chuckle. Mr Mcolgin, always on the mark. Gib's vid was great…..haven't had time to see the links in MNDs post yet, just too busy with the bread earning to play about in the shop yet, but I guess the anvil's not going anywhere. There is a good machine shop nearby, it might be the quickest option…. muito obrigado todos
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    Jake, it’d be awesome to see pics of your anvils. I have a little one. Maybe it’s a jeweler’s anvil.

    Jake, it'd be awesome if you could tell me where there is another derelict blacksmith shop that hasn't been ransacked or burnt to the ground. I like the bit about the Radio Flyer.
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Worth reading before you do anything to the anvil: (It pretty much says DONT! unless you really have to)

    http://www.anvilfire.com/article.php...Qs/anvil-3.htm

    First page because there is no back link at the bottom, just forward
    edit arrgh, page 1 doesn't seem to have the next page link http://www.anvilfire.com/article.php...Qs/anvil-2.htm
    http://www.anvilfire.com/article.php...Qs/anvil-1.htm
    page 5 has good detail on bouncing steel ball hardness test.
    corners --edit, oops, wrong link it was page 5 http://www.anvilfire.com/article.php...Qs/anvil-5.htm

    http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/an...vil_radius.php
    HT 4140 semi off topic:
    http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/heat-treating-4140.php
    Last edited by MN Dave; 07-07-2018 at 01:30 PM.
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

  19. #19
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    The face on my (big) anvil is harder than the hinges of hell, and if you were to try to flatten or "dress" it with a mill, it would just wreck any tooling you might have in a Bridgeport...

    Not only was the face hardened to begin with, but a hundred years of hammer work concentrated in one spot has made it even more so.
    I passed on a 300 lb anvil about a year ago that I could have had for the taking, it was old yet in like new condition, an English pattern with an unusualy long horn.
    I couldn't move it...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    Any local machine shop can flatten the top quickly and easily by just taking a pass on a Bridgeport.
    blanchard
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    blanchard
    You hit that hardened anvil top with a mill, especially with an auto feed, and you can kiss the tool, spindle shaft and drive gears good bye...

    Precision Grinder with coolant is what ya need.
    PaulF

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    A larger surface grinder might do it, but the question remains, Why?

    The work produced on an anvil is limited by the skill, not the relative flatness of the anvil. That is not important. There are specific places all along the top of an anvil used for very different purposes.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    Jake, it'd be awesome if you could tell me where there is another derelict blacksmith shop that hasn't been ransacked or burnt to the ground. I like the bit about the Radio Flyer.
    https://sacramento.craigslist.org/se...la?query=anvil
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    A larger surface grinder might do it, but the question remains, Why?

    The work produced on an anvil is limited by the skill, not the relative flatness of the anvil. That is not important. There are specific places all along the top of an anvil used for very different purposes.
    Not totally true, skill is important ,however, every flaw in the surface will be transferred to the work at every impact. Many smiths polish their hammers and anvil tops.

    True enough if your just pounding stuff, probably not an issue. But if you really get into it, a clean flat surface is the desired tool.
    PaulF

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Yes, I understand polishing hammers and I do that to keep them nice but I use a belt sander. And the face of my anvil directly opposite the hammer is smooth, polished even, but not flat...

    edit; Are you saying you don't use a waffle faced hammer?
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 07-07-2018 at 02:11 PM.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Yes, I understand polishing hammers and I do that to keep them nice but I use a belt sander. And the face of my anvil directly opposite the hammer is smooth, polished even, but not flat...

    edit; Are you saying you don't use a waffle faced hammer?
    Oh yes I do!!! I just don't hit hot Iron with It!! only my thumb!
    PaulF

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    ask a spanish blacksmith what it's supposed to look like? clearly a different shape than the general north american.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mahan View Post
    Jake, it'd be awesome if you could tell me where there is another derelict blacksmith shop that hasn't been ransacked or burnt to the ground.

    there's a passel of smithy things floating around the upper midwest if you are patient and have the cash. scrap value alone makes things not cheap these days.
    Last edited by Hugh Conway; 07-08-2018 at 12:19 AM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    What about this? Sixty-six pounds. Forged steel. $150. Free delivery.



    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Round-Horn-6...-/263536244066
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    buthardened

    tehe, i just had a beavis and butthead moment
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Dangerous! Paul.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Probably a good buy...

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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Probably a good buy...
    I suspect that this is a -- Good bye.

    After subtracting the shipping cost* from the $150, this is the cheapest lump of scrap iron that can be shipped half way around the world. Buthardened indeed. Hardness is 55 mm? There ain't no Rockwell mm scale, but there is an A scale and 55 HRA is 90 HRB, same as annealed stainless or hard aluminum, which is believable for a hardened lump of 1030 steel.

    *EDIT -- an argument unworthy of a bump. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If the product "ships for free" it means that the seller has included the shipping charge in the price. When you look for something on Amazon, or the Rio Negro for that matter, you can sort by lowest 'price plus shipping' or however they describe it. Often you will see a $10 part with $13 shipping from one vendor and a $23 part with free shipping from another. Shipping might really cost $6, but the $10 part is listed first on a sort by price search. Sorry, but I served a 14 year sentence in a quality assurance department, and sorting Bevis from Butthead was so routine that I can never stop looking for the man behind the curtain.

    You can't harden any inexpensive alloy 2" deep. 4340 maybe or A2 tool steel, but not for $2.59/lb. Case hardening is also added cost and too thin to be any good. This is a piece of crap. Don't waste your money.
    Last edited by MN Dave; 07-09-2018 at 10:36 PM.
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    Still, 150 us bts is cheap, but I bet it ain't free shipping 'half way round the world' or to the land of the pork and cheese. I once bought a gasket set and a tooth generator drive belt for a 40hp Johnson seahorsepoop. purchase price from a vintage outboard specialist about 70 USD IIRC, whole lot went into a JiffyBag, shipping another 50. customs duty when it arrived an entirely arbitrarily decided 100 €. Love to see what they make of an anvil.
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

  34. #34
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil

    BTW, I wasn't posting that cheap one as a suggestion; I was asking as a novice, trying to see if there was some way it wasn't a too-good-to-be-true thing. Like maybe they are giving away the anvils as a loss leader, to get you to buy tariffed steel in some quantity.
    I don't care to know what the tough do when the going gets tough.

    I am interested in what the enlightened do.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: dressing an anvil



    Rus Jaqua, Nimba forge anvils in Port Townsend Wa.
    http://www.nimbaanvils.com/gladiator.php
    PaulF

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