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I Forge Iron

I need a face


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I am trying to find out what is the best steel to use for an anvil face. I am new to the smithing trade and do not have many of the tools I need ,so I have to improvise. Oh, did I mention I am broke $$$$$.

Anyway, I need to do some work on my anvil. I built it out of 1" plate welded together.
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Only real problem is the steel I used is pretty soft and seems to pick up stray hammer marks really easy(thank you my bad aim brother).
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I had thought about facing it with some hard rods (welding), but I would really rather put another plate on top. I think a piece of something harder and about 1" thick would work. I could have it cut over sized and weld it around the bottom edges. Also I need to add some supports for the outer edges. They aren't warped yet but If I try to forge with a big hammer I am afraid they my bend. I am still looking for an anvil locally, but for now I have to use what I have.

So if any of you know which steel would work best "please" tell me. Thanks

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The HF rods to resurface that plate will be very expensive. There's nothing wrong with forging on mild steel except that it dents easy and mushrooms with use. But hey, it's easy to do some maintenance with the welder and grinder every now and then. I completely believe you that it was your brother dinged the anvil ;) But imagine it had been a hard face and chips broke off?

Grader blade is very tough stuff. Designed to be impact and abrasion resistant. If you can find a thick enough piece it would make a useful anvil stood up on edge. The one thing I dont like about your anvil is that there is no backup for the top plate which is just sitting on that webbing (I guess its a piece of plate welded in). If you can find something compact and blocky whether MS or tool steel, it will work much better than what you have now.

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I completely believe you that it was your brother dinged the anvil ;)....
The one thing I dont like about your anvil is that there is no backup for the top plate which is just sitting on that webbing (I guess its a piece of plate welded in). If you can find something compact and blocky whether MS or tool steel, it will work much better than what you have now.


was him and I gave him a hard time about it too.

I agree with you about the single piece of steel webbing in the center. I wish I would have boxed it in when I built it. I am afraid it will warp with continued use, right now it is still pretty flat aside from the dings. I spoke with a couple of gentlemen that sell steel, they said AR400 would be a good surface. It has a hardness of brin.400. I have also located a 1-1/2 piece of plate (mild steel) if nothing else I will beef up this one.

I did look at a 75lb anvil today. Man wanted $175 for it. It was in usable condition, just not the condition I wanted to use. Most of the edges were missing, the horn was pretty worn and the face was very uneven.
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Your freinds are correct about the Ar-400 to a degree...it would make a good top-plate, but not on an I beam shaped anvil. While extremely abrasion resistant, it is not that impact resistant. If it were backed up and solidly attached to thick enough mild steel it would work well.

What are the dimensions of the 1.5" mild steel? That might make a decent anvil depending on size.

There are many homebuilt anvils on this site. Please take the time to search them and read about them. That way you will understand enough about anvil basics to be able to design a usable anvil.

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Thanks guys, I have looked at many designs on this site. I wish I could find a forklift tine, but they don't just break that often. I hit our's at work with a ball peen hammer and it barely left a mark. If I could find one that would be ideal.

The 1-1/2 plate is about 20x20 but their are some holes close to the edges. The center is nice and hole-free, I could use that for the face by welding it to the existing face. Maybe put a a couple of peices under the edges for supporting the face. Thing would probably weight about 200lbs since the 1-1/2 plate is about 150lb by itself.

Anyway thanks for the help. I am still looking.

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Thanks guys, I have looked at many designs on this site. I wish I could find a forklift tine, but they don't just break that often. I hit our's at work with a ball peen hammer and it barely left a mark. If I could find one that would be ideal.


Find a scrap yard close to a big city in your area and give them a call. I was walking around the yard here right outside of downtown Columbus and saw at least 7 or 8 tines lying around. Yards clost to big cities are the dumping ground for large corporations getting rid of their worn out equipment.
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I was at the scrap yard this morning selling my copper and brass collection. I was walking around the yard and I look in the bed of and old truck and BEHOLD an anvil just setting there. I got really excited, granted this thing was a total piece of crap but it was an anvil all the same. felt like about 50 or so pounds.

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Got to the scale house to pay for it and the owner said "oh no, we don't sell those!". I ask him why not, it was on the yard. He said he keeps them, he has 7 or 8. I thought to my self "yep you probably take them to the flea market and jack the price up.

Dang!!!!!!!!![sorry for the original word] I tried to talk him out of it to no avail. But he put me on the "I want one list". It was really ragged, looked like it had been beat on every square it of it even the sides and bottom. No marks or numbers probably old cast iron but who knows. Had a hardy hole and the round hole on the rear about 1" from each other.


But all is not lost. I talked to my father in law, who just happens to work at ESCO in Newton,MS. He said he thought they cast some 175# once, heat treated and all....and.....he would look and see if the still had the stuff to make the molds. If so he may could pull some strings. But no promises.

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Curious as to what you are getting for the scrap Cu, and brass.

It is amazing what you can find in old style automotive wrecking yards. The new yards totally clean the cars out before setting them on the lot.

A 175# anvil would be a good size. One of mine is a 170# Hay-Budden. What you may look into is seeing how many they would have to cast up to make it worthwhile to do so. Then get enough orders for that many, and have them cast. Kind of like the group buys we did for parts kits.

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I think I got about $1.25 for the brass and $2.80 per # for the copper, something like that. Some of the copper went as #2 because of the guage.


As far as the new anvil, I am hoping he can pull a few strings and slip it in on a production run. Probably take about 200-225# to cast once you allow for your risers and waste. A drop in the bucket compared to what they pour a day, close to 100 tons. But this is all wishfull thinking. He has some pull, depends on wether he really wants to use it. He is a good fellow so it may actually happen

I may ask him about a larger quantity an see if the mill "higher-ups" might be interested. Could be a good venture.

Oh yeah, I did find a nice set of forklift forks 3" thick x 8" wide but he wouldn't let them go either, maybe because they actually went to his lift, LOL.

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I talked to him tonight, he said the last they cast were for local people and they were $2 per pound.
As far the machining I don't know but the alloy and the heat treating would be right, ESCO specializes in hard alloys from start to finish.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw forklift tines mentioned and thought I'd throw in my two cents. As a former forklift mechanic I agree that the tines, or forks seldom break. but they do wear out far more often than you would think. What happens is the lift chains wear slowly over time and elongate, if they are not regularly adjusted or replaced the forks will drag on the floor (in the fully lowered position)causing the heel of the fork to wear. Once that wear exceeds a certain % of the original thickness they are considered unsafe and need to be replaced. The dealerships that I have worked for sell / replace several pair each year and usually dispose of the worn out set for the customer. If there is a forklift dealer in your area they are likely to have atleast one set of worn out forks sitting around. Also you are likely to find bent or broken hydrolic cylinder rods, axel shafts and other good junk for making tools or whatever.
If there is a lift dealer near you it may be worth wile to drop by and get to know the service manager or the parts manager, you may score some good material.

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The serviceman from the company that services out lifts was at the plant the other day. I asked him about some forks, he said he was almost certain there were some at there service yard. He said if he could remember to, he would put me one on the back of his truck next time he came.

I also talked to my father in law again; He said the mold cores (terminology) for the anvils were still at his work. He also said what the alloy was the used something similar to or may have been 8640. He said they would be hardened and tempered throughout. He knows more about it than I do.

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  • 2 weeks later...

welded up a new home made "anvil" if you can call it that. Used the 1-1/2" actually turned out to be 1-1/4". Nothing fancy hac a nice ring, but its soft. It will do for now I hope. A local machinist saya he has something for me to make an anvil out of. He says I'll wear out my hammer on it before it needs any work. I wonder what type of steel it is??? I hope to catch him at his shop this week, I need him to price me some rollers for a belt grinder. I will post a pic soon.

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I went shopping at the local antiques store today. I bought some old monkey wrenches,I don't think that is the proper name but they don't have any teeth and they're old. I figures I could use them for turning square stock and got both for $16.

I did not find an anvil but the day was not a waste. Turns out that the owner of the second shop, his father was a blacksmith, as was his grandfather. He said he has an anvil that weighs about 200-250, but it is not for sell. He did say I could look through his tools so that I will have some to go by when I make mine. He was really nice and we talked for about an hour.

Now the even better news.... the owner of the fab/machine shop said he is going to be cutting some AR400 plate next week and he will cut me a piece FREE! Now for the best part, "IT'S 3" THICK"!! I figure I'll get him to help me press and weld it ontop of homemade anvil I made last week.

This thing is gonna be heavy. Just the AR plate is gonna be 64lbs and the bottom piece is about 125lbs by itself. I know it wont be root welded but I figure we can machine the sufaces flat and press them together untill its tacked in place. I don't have an anvil to get deminsions from so I am just going by what looks right. I am going to make the face 5"x15" there may even be a horn later if all goes well.

The picture are of what will be the base. Pay no attention to the "turkey xxxx" welds, I was rushed for time as always and did not prep my surfaces for the mig.

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3" A R plate, thats a top plate! Need to pre-heat and use low hydrogen.



Yes sir it is, or will be. He was going to cut me two pieces and stack them, then I told him I had something to put it on.

Question, does the horn of an anvil need to be hard or will A36 or mild steel shaft work? He has some pretty big stuff, I think I even saw a piece of 6" thick pate at his shop. I may can get him to help me shape a horn and weld it to the body.
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I think I can get some shaft (4" or 6")that is 1045 steel will this work for an anvil horn I could probably harden it slightly if needed? I was thinking maybe turn it down to a conical shape on the lathe and then cut the wide end on an angle so that the top of the horn is parallel to the floor (level) when welded to the anvil. I'll try to draw it up.


Supposed to be cutting the plate for me in the next day or so and I have got to get a temp stick for about 400-500F, thats what he said I should heat it too. And he said 7018 rods will work fine on the AR plate.

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The 1045 will make a good horn, as it will hold up better than non heat treated 1018. Brian B likes 1045 for making hammers. I wouldn't cut it flat though. I would look at either turning a stub on the back, or inserting a bar/tenon between the base, and horn. The rest would have a bevel, or some other weld prep in order to get a 100% weldment.


Pics of the progress will be nice.We like pics.

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Hey guys got my plate for the face today. It weighs 66.45lbs, just the face. It really rings and rings at a high pitch for several seconds after being hit.

I have a little bit of grinding and polishing to do to the mating surfaces befor I weld them. I don't have a rose bud for my torch but I have a fishcooker burner and an old propane bbq grille. I was thinking I could lay the plate over the burner and heat it up. I can weld some temporary eyelets to the bottom section so I can hook my chain hoist to it. Then once a pass is completed I can hang it over the bbq grille to keep it hot between passes. When all the welding is finished I plan to cover it with a box or barrel to let it cool.

While I was ae the fab shop I found out the owner was going to haul of the rest of the plate for scrap. I talked him into to cutting me out an entire anvil. I have to draw it out this week end on some of the paper he uses for his shape cutter. It will be 3" wide - I think 12" long for the face, 1" for the table, 4-6" for the horn, I am not sure about the height yet or how wide to make the feet(welded on). I wish I had a way to put a hardie hole in it.

I may buy the whole plate from him if he will sell it. I think it would make good tools.

anvil.wmv

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Check with a rental yard for bent tines. When a tine gets damaged it has to be replaced.

The scrap yard in Las Vegas I went to had a stack of tines in one area.

Do a little digging, and you can probably find on easy enough.

Where is the yard in Vegas or the name at least. I desperately need to get more than the HF Chinese cast iron paper weight I have.
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