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I Forge Iron

So I bought an anvil.....

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Hi, I'm new here, my name is Will oliver. I've wanted to do smithing stuff for a long time now. I finally got off of my laurels about doing it. I put a post up on craigslist.com, simply stating that I was looking for a anvil to do metal work on. One fella wrote me back and said he had a large old anvil, what was it worth to me. I said $100. Sounded like an ok deal. He agreed to it. Now I did this without asking what condition it was in, for I was in a hot mood to get an anvil.
When I got there he said it was 100lbs. I picked it up and knew that it was certainly more than 100lbs. It wasn't in the nicest condition. the top was all rusted and pitted. The edges are not in the best of shape. There is a large depression, from where all the work was done on it. But it rings like a bell and weighs in at 160lbs.
I took it to my fathers shop and used his angle grinder to remove some of the rust. I tried to clean it up as best as I could but I was pressed for time. So I turn to yall for advice. Suggestions as to what I should do with it now, to clean it up. I figure more grinding and such. Could I take it to a machine shop to have them flatten it with a mill and clean up the edges? Any and all comments welcome! Thanks a bunch.

This is a link to pictures of it.

Anvil - a set on Flickr











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You've done as much to the face as you need to do and probably more.

The face of your anvil is, at this age likely to be 1/4 Inch thick or less.
Unless I'm totally off base that is a wrought Iron body with a forge welded on steel face.

At this point start using it!

Good Luck and welcome to Iforge

Btw. Please give us an Idea of where you are. State would be good.

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If you want to make it look just a weebit better coat entire anvil with a little paste wax. (IMHO you could have done this alone without using the grinder at all) This process is best done with anvil slightly warm so maybe place it out in the sun a while and then wax. Once wax dries buff with an old cotton cloth and enjoy. The anvil will have a slight sheen and take on an almost new look. No more grinding, sanding, wire brushing, painting, or machining. See what added details and markings the wax finish brings about and check into the anvils pedigree. Rust is considered a primary color here and waxed rust looks real nice as a surface finish, almost wood-like or leather-like.
Enjoy your new friend. Treat it right and it will return the favors!

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I am located around Albany, ny. Thanks for all the good comments. Now I have to get my forge set. I built one of the washtub forges nearly ten years ago and I've never used it. Now I can! : )

I have no idea what make it is or how old it is. It looked like It got pulled out of a river. Itd be neat to find out.

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I am looking forward to using it. I wish I had taken a before shot of it. The pitting on the top section was really really bad. If you look you can still see some of the pitting. But I shan't grind upon again. My craigslist post as actually found a few more anvils that I'm gonna check out this weekend.

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I had a friend who had his anvil's face milled nice and flat---it was then too thin to use and he had a professional welder spend 5-6 hours building it up again to a usable thickness.

I have seen another anvil that was taken to a machine shop to mill flat. Turns out that the face and the bottom were not parallel so the machine shop clamped it down on a large mill and made them parallel---milling all the way through the face in places. That person paid a goodly chunk of change to have them RUIN his anvil.

Do no more on yours till you have used it a year or two and know more about what really is needed!

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The pits are far less concern than you believe, even severe ones aren't a big deal. If you need a fine surface for finish work, a certainly reasonable need, simply make a polished hardy tool. Same goes for a sharp edge, make a tool if you need one.

I think more anvils, heck tools in general, are ruined by beginners "repairing" them before then know the whats and whys of a craft. For instance, there was a guy at work who was always "adjusting" the lathe's tailstock because HE couldn't get a straight cut on small diameter rod. He'd never even heard of a follower but boy oh boy could he scream to the front office if I suggested using one.

Anyway, outside of a little wire brushing, rehandling, degreasing and maybe mud dawber nest removal, most blacksmithing tools and equipment you find will be good to go when you get it. Nicks, dings, etc. were put there during use and except for gross examples like torch cuts, put there by experienced smiths doing the daily work of a smith.

If you'll click "User CP" at the top of the page and edit your profile to show your general location it can make a big difference. IFI is represented by members from more than 50 countries and a lot of info is location specific. If local folk know you're there they can invite you to gatherings, tip you to tool deals and offer hands on help.


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well if it is mostly normal forging work use it and do as all others said :) and since it is really old don't grind it any more..

but a know many will disagree with me on this but if you forge a lot of blades and price flat stuff and have a old but not that old anvil (one piece steel ones) i grind em down to smooth and it any really big digs I weld em up using 0,60carbon self hardening welding stick and I also grind it up high in the grits so I can see my own reflection and keep it that way or the prober use of it keeps it shiny.

and oil it up if you are leaving it for more then a few days with out use..


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use it but look for another one to replace it. You've got an artifact on your hands; be gentle.

EXACTLY!!!!! Put that thing away - it's got good edges and looks like a Mousehole. Take very good care of that baby!

Here's a link to a site that will help you identify the anvil:
The Celtic Knot - Identifying Anvils

and one of the things they note:
If there is no pritchell hole, it was made before about 1790-1795.

This is like the Antique Road Show :D Edited by sloscheider
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