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Thread: Anvil

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Anvil

    Guys,

    got a question about anvils. I have an anvil bought from HF. It is 10lb or something. I do not do any blacksmithing, but use it for "cold" work, pounding something with hammer on it. With time the anvil got a lot of dents and marks on it and surface became pretty uneven. I just start to think is it cheap anvil which is rather soft? Though I believe good ones have the same problem. I saw a lot old American made anvils which are in terrible shape. Is it supposed to use anvils for "cold" work, should the surface be thermally treated or some kind hardened surface plate should be used on top? Anybody flatten anvil surface and how?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Lexington MA
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    Over on a blacksmithing forum, Harbor Freight's offerings are derisively known as "ASO"s, or Anvil Shaped Objects. That said, no anvil (or similarly shaped object) should be used for a lot of cold work if you value its appearance.

    Refacing an anvil can be done. You can repair areas with beads of a special welding rod called a "hardface rod" then refinish by grinding. Welding on entirely new top plates of tool steel can also be done. Neither is a task I'd attempt without major guidance from a pro welder.

  3. #3
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    My small anvil is made from railroad track. I don't use it much but there are no dents in it from use and I doubt that I am strong enough to cause any.
    David B

  4. #4
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    To test an anvil you bounce a ball bearing off the top face. On a good anvil you should get more than a 75% rebound all over the top face. That rebound implies that the energy behind your blows is going into the work, not being dissipated in the anvil.

    My anvil is an 1850's-era London pattern anvil from Mousehole Forge. I consider it a good Craigslist score, even though it has a real dead spot in one place where the ball-bearing bounce turns into more of a "thud".

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Cheap anvils are just made from cast iron. Good anvils have either a thick,hardened tool steel face on their tops,and welded around their horns,or can be made of solid tool steel like mine is.

    True,you can see old anvils sway backed and beaten up,but those anvils stood over 100 years of heavy daily use to get them that way. My anvil cannot become sway backed since it is solid,hardened tool steel.

    Eventually,the anvils with welded on tops can get sway backed,because even a 3/4" thick tool steel top can eventually get pounded into the soft,wrought iron body beneath the hardened top. It takes many.many years,though.

  6. #6
    Railroad track can make a nice anvil. The top surface where the wheels ran is seriously work hardened and will not be easy to dent. The rounded long edges are safe too. Be careful about striking close to a square edge because the metal can chip, and those chips come off with some speed. Enough to embed in your hand or take an eye out. I have a chunk that will some day become an anvil. If I can find it again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    A round edged anvil is not as useful as a fairly square corner. You often have to hammer square bends over the side of an anvil,and the round edge will not permit that.

    I made the patterns for both types of anvils in use in the Anderson Blacksmith Shop in Williamsburg,Va.

    An anvil should be tempered so that pieces do not readily chip off the corners.

  8. #8
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    I have a grizzly anvil that dents with peening brass
    Steve knight
    cnc routing

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    A good anvil is typically forged or cast steel. It should ring at a tap. A ball bearing should rebound 85-90%. The top is typically dressed flat. I dress my edges in a variable taper from about a 1/16" radius to maybe 3/8" radius. This allows a choice of bends depending upon you intent. I typically work iron only hot. But I might work copper cold.
    Shawn

    "a little mayhem breaks up the ennui of everyday life"

    "be the change you want to see in the world"

  10. #10
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    It is rather too bad for a company to represent a cast iron anvil as a good anvil. Cast iron is not suitable for hammering on. It's too soft,and will eventually crumble after enough hammering is done on it. They CAN be made from 4140 cast steel,and hardened. I made the patterns for the large #300 anvils in the Anderson Blacksmith Shop in Williamsburg. They had them cast thusly,and have been hammering on them for over 30 years without damaging their tops.

    Since no properly made commercial anvils with welded on thick tops of tool steel,in 18th.C. patterns are currently available,we had to make our own patterns and have them cast,ground,and hardened.

    I made another large anvil pattern in an earlier pattern before I retired for them. They are costing about $1500.00 each,unfortunately,but it's the only way we could get authentic pattern anvils.

    I think if a large company could get them made in quantity,they would be a lot cheaper. But likely still to expensive for the casual user to invest in.

  11. #11
    Has anybody seen the new one Lee Valley is selling in person? It's only 7lbs but also only $30: http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...31&cat=51&ap=1

  12. #12
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    Harry H,
    Looks like it would be a handy item to have mounted on my bench especially if the specs are as stated by Lee Valley.
    David B

  13. #13
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    I got LOML one for Mothers' Day with the peen and fold hardies. It is a nice little anvil. We were concerned at first because the hardies wouldn't drop into the hardy hole. Cleaning the paint off the inside fixed that. You wouldn't want to do big work on it but for cold folding and forming, a nice little tool.

    Quote Originally Posted by harry hood View Post
    Has anybody seen the new one Lee Valley is selling in person? It's only 7lbs but also only $30: http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...31&cat=51&ap=1
    Shawn

    "a little mayhem breaks up the ennui of everyday life"

    "be the change you want to see in the world"

  14. #14

    Thanks for the testing info

    Carpe Lignum

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Pixley View Post
    I got LOML one for Mothers' Day with the peen and fold hardies.
    You got your wife an anvil for Mothers' day? I trust that since you're still here she didn't bludgeon you with it...she sounds like a keeper, congratulations.

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