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I Forge Iron

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If ya don't want to read my story skip to the last sentence.

In case it's hard to tell from what I'm about to say, I've never had the opportunity to work metal before. It has been a long time dream of mine since I saw a blacksmith at work in one of those colonial reconstruction towns.

Essentially now that I'm in college I've found that I can afford to run a small forge for some beginner smithing. My only problem at this point is finding that "First Anvil."

I don't want to pay too much, but it seems like prices are pretty high right now. A new anvil is completely out of the question. I've found a few hefty anvils (250+) but one of them was severely cracked and repaired (not sure how all of this was done or what sort of anvil it is to begin with) and the other (350+) is unmarked on price and in Kentucky (Georgia boy here) that I could pick up at the end of the month.

Long story short: I'm looking for a few pointers and tips on picking up a good beginner's anvil for a good college kid price.

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Student you say,You don`t need an ANVIL.What you need is a hunk of metal,son.
Say like a hunk you would find in an old scrap yard,for an old scrap price.

Once you get to beatin` on iron enough to know if you`re going to stay with it then a "for real" anvil usually appears.
Course you do have to know the secret handshake and which small animals to sacrifice under the full moon in order to manifest said anvil.
Remember that secret handshake when the really intimidating guy appears out of the puff of smoke and asks you to sign on the dotted line,in blood. :o

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Better yet see if the school has a blacksmithing class. That way you can get credits for learning, and they supply the tools. The local JC where I grew up had a great blacksmithing program. It was Solano Community College in Suisun(sue-soon) Ca. The instructor is Dave Nourot (new-row). IIRC he was the VP of the CA blacksmith assoc. Great guy.

If not you may find a local on here close by that can help you out some.

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In the chatroom, last night, you expressed "reluctance" to pound on an "antique". These anvils, mostly manufactured in the 19th century, were made with the express purpose of banging hot metal atop them with a hammer. They accomplish, with few exceptions, their appointed task. If used properly(no pounding on it when the metal is cold", these anvils will last a thousand years, if used in the right manner. Your respect for these tools is a good thing; you will certainly not abuse your 150 pound antique "treasure"!

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We don't have any classes like that here. I'm going to end up transferring up to Virginia (hopefully). They will probably have a few blacksmithing classes up there. If not I'm sure I can figure something out. My main concern is finding a place to work if I'm living in dorms.

As for budget, I'm going to say $900.00 cash in hand to get started. I'm thinking of building a forge similar to this, but with a different blower. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cm/popularmechanics/pdf/pm-forge-1941.pdf

I was thinking of using a bench grinder for a blower if I can't get a hold on a 1/2hp motor. I'd prefer to keep the bench grinder as a bench grinder though. Might end up buying two.

Tools, I planned on making that my first goal for working metal. Try to work out some tongs and then move on from there.

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Welcome Xen, (short for Xenolith no doubt).

Most of the world doesn't forge on London pattern anvils---why should you pay extra for one right now? The famed japanese swords were forged on anvils that look like a rectangular solid of steel, (one of the things I teach beginners is that you don't need a horn to make curves with an anvil) So instead of an expensive anvil look for a large hunk of scrap steel. I used the broken off knuckle of a RR car coupler before---it had a flat area and a curved area and weighed enough for a starter anvil and was *free*. A chunk of forklift tine, (damaged tines cannot be re-used for liability reasons---make sure they *know* that it will be chopped for an anvil".

A friend of mine used a heavy duty fork lift thine that had a large head section with a 1.5" rod through it; cost him $25 to have it welded to a plate to stand vertically and makes an excellent anvil!

As for working out of a dorm---think about an aspirated propane forge. It frees you from having to have an extension cord and power plug. One student student of mine had his gas forge built into a gas grill setup and kept it out back of the dorm chained up with the real gas grill that other students had.

VA has a very active smithing scene with great folks and events going on all the time. Looking up a local smithing group can really speed up the learning curve and I will suggest it strongly even where you are at now!

If you are looking to switch schools New Mexico Tech is a top rated Science and Engineering School and has a Fine Arts Metals adjunct community college class that has me over to teach some smithing several times a semester and my shop is available for student use by arrangement...

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I was using a small piece of RR track (4 inches), an 8 pound hammer head (handle broke, haven't fixed) and a pick mattock as a stake anvil stuck in a log this weekend straightening the sheetmetal on my brother in law's truck so we could hang a new fender.

In this case the 170# Trenton was simply unable to get in the places needed. The RR track and hammer head were both set on a stump and used hand held to "buck" against the body parts that could not be removed with reasonable effort.

I called them all "anvils" as that was their use. When we were done the dented chassis was straight and everything worked...till my brother in law rear ended his mother on the drive home.

He called me and told me that one of his friends helped him use the same types of tools to straighten the new fender out almost as good as we had it.


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