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Anvil repair primer


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I've seen some great photos of reconditioned and rebuilt anvils on this forum, and mention about the tools and techniques used. But for a person who is starting from square 1, who has never done this before, I realize I need more information.

My anvil job is small - only a 50lb travel anvil that I would like to touch up the faceplate and horn. The anvil is old and could use a bit of a face-lift. I don't want to get the face milled (I only paid $65.00 for the anvil) - I figure some careful grinding will be enough. But this is also a great opportunity for me to practice some of these new metal skills on a small project. I just need some more help getting started - I don't have a fabricator or welder background like so many of you guys.

Posts have mentioned using flapper disks / wheels and belt sanders to do freehand grinding work on faceplates. BUT ...

What does a flapper disk or wheel look like? (picture please)

What grit should I start with?

I figure this is a good place to start this thread. If other smiths have other starting questions they want to ask, they can tag them on as well. Next thing you know we have a more comprehensive tutorial thread about reconditioning an old anvil.

Thanks.

Sam

post-4558-0-95335200-1293817372_thumb.jp

post-4558-0-98136100-1293817464_thumb.jp

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Are you sure it even has a face plate it looks like a cast iron anvil. If that is the case, welding on it could be very difficult. Also welding will not get you a hard face unless you are able to some how hard face the whole anvil face. That is beyond my welding knowledge. It might be possible to lay down a layer of nickle rod then do a layer of hard face but I am just speculating. I don't think that would be cheep to do. You could mill the face flat and braze on a plate of air hardening tool steel also not cheep or easy.

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Let`s see the bottom of it Sam.That`s one of the easiest way to tell if the body is wrought,or cast iron.

The next step would be to do a spark test to tell you if there was a difference between the base and the face.If they`re both the same then unless this is a solid steel anvil there`s really not much you can do except sell it and put the money towards an anvil that fits your needs.
Many have tried to morph an ASO into an anvil but that skates very close to alchemy and those few that came close to success had access to tools and skills beyond what you have available sounds like.
Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings but...

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Let`s see the bottom of it Sam.That`s one of the easiest way to tell if the body is wrought,or cast iron.

The next step would be to do a spark test to tell you if there was a difference between the base and the face.If they`re both the same then unless this is a solid steel anvil there`s really not much you can do except sell it and put the money towards an anvil that fits your needs.
Many have tried to morph an ASO into an anvil but that skates very close to alchemy and those few that came close to success had access to tools and skills beyond what you have available sounds like.
Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings but...


Thanks for the suggestions guys, but anvil composition aside (... I'll have to investigate that further ...) I would still like to get some answers to the original post. I now know what a flapper disk is but I still would like to know what grits are needed to start with and whether there is a sequence of grits I need to go through.
Sam
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Thanks for the suggestions guys, but anvil composition aside (... I'll have to investigate that further ...) I would still like to get some answers to the original post. I now know what a flapper disk is but I still would like to know what grits are needed to start with and whether there is a sequence of grits I need to go through.
Sam


Start with a 60 and finish with a worn 60. You may be removing more material than you want to, so starting with a knotted cup wire brush on the grinder may be better, and possibly all you need.

Phil
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You want to do your initial grinding with a hard grinding wheel or a belt sander. Flapper disks are for blending and polishing. They are too expensive and not very effective when you want to remove much material. I would buy just one grit for finishing and the choice would depend on how smooth you like the face to be. I dont go higher than 100 grit on mine.

IMO with your skills and resources you could fab up a better anvil of that size quite easily. At some point it doesn't make sense to invest too much time refurbishing this one. Especially if its CI.

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When it comes to taking a grinder to something that I want to take as little off as possible,like an avil or other tool face,I am in the hit it with the smallest stick possible camp.
I start with 80 grit for most things and then see how that goes.The stuff you`re grinding will tell you quickly if you need to step up or down in a hurry.The problem with saying start with XXX grit is if you start with too coarse then you have to take the scratches from the too coarse abrasive out and that will cost you time and material and abrasives.
Not having anything but a pic to go by makes it a tough call but when in doubt I start with 80 and then hit the really bad spots(like the edges) with something like a hard wheel if needed and then go back to an 80 to blend and I like to finish with a 120 but only cause I like smooth and shiny and have 3 boxes of the 120 left from previous jobs.
As others have mentioned,flap wheels are basically a blending tool and belt sanders will leave a flatter surface if that`s what you`re after.They both use the same abrasives the belt just has more contact surface and a flat backing.
One caution,buy the GOOD brand(like Norton,3M,or some other brand name from the US or Europe) flap wheels in either Si Carbide or one of the better high grade abrasives.You`ll only prolong the agony and frustration and spend more time changing burnt up wheels if you go the cheap Chinese route here.Trust me on this,I used pretty much everything when I was making stainless deck hardware for yachts and that cheap garbage really is a time waster here,especially for edges or hardened steel.

I think maddog has 20/20 (pun intended)vision on this. I`d sell it and buy some thick scrap plate,set it on edge and make a metal moving machine like Brian B was come up with.You already have a fine bit of kit with that block and bick on the stump for demos.
Life is too short to spend grinding ASOs.Save the flap wheels for that fabbed anvil. :)

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<snip>

I think maddog has 20/20 (pun intended)vision on this. I`d sell it and buy some thick scrap plate,set it on edge and make a metal moving machine like Brian B was come up with.You already have a fine bit of kit with that block and bick on the stump for demos.
Life is too short to spend grinding ASOs.Save the flap wheels for that fabbed anvil. :)


Thanks for all the advice everyone - be assured I value all of it. :)

I'm still not convinced this is an ASO yet ... so I'm going to investigate further. There is a very good chance I'm wrong but as CurlyGeorge says, I haven't invested a huge amount of cash into this anvil, I have 5 other anvils to rely on and this could be a bit of fun.
I'll keep everyone posted on any results - it may take a while though ... life's going to get busy in the next little while.
Happy New Year all.

Sam
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<snip>

I think maddog has 20/20 (pun intended)vision on this. I`d sell it and buy some thick scrap plate,set it on edge and make a metal moving machine like Brian B was come up with.You already have a fine bit of kit with that block and bick on the stump for demos.
Life is too short to spend grinding ASOs.Save the flap wheels for that fabbed anvil. :)


Thanks for all the advice everyone - be assured I value all of it. :)

I'm still not convinced this is an ASO yet ... so I'm going to investigate further. There is a very good chance I'm wrong but as CurlyGeorge says, I haven't invested a huge amount of cash into this anvil, I have 5 other anvils to rely on and this could be a bit of fun.
I'll keep everyone posted on any results - it may take a while though ... life's going to get busy in the next little while.
Happy New Year all.

Sam
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  • 4 weeks later...

Okay ... back to this topic.
After the holidays I was able to hook up with my friend who picked up the anvil for me and get a good look at it myself - up close and personal like.
... AND ...
... you all were right, it looks like it's cast iron (... go ahead ... you can say "I told ya so" ...).
I didn't really doubt any of you, but I had to see for myself. Glad I only shelled out $65.00 for it.
I haven't done a spark test yet - report cards have been eating up all my time and brains for the past 2 weeks - but the sound of it is dull and there is very little rebound. I will still do a spark test, just to be sure.
SO ... this leads me to my other train of thought ... here's the background.
I have every intention - come Hell or High Water - to learn how to weld. I plan on taking a community college course in the spring.
What I'm hoping is that since this anvil has a pretty small face, I could talk an instructor into teaching me how to hardface it eventually, after several more courses.
Of course this leads me to my new question on which all other plans hinge on ... can a cast iron anvil BE hardfaced??? :blink:

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sam (-an inquiring mind :))

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Yes BUT. Lousy but....

CI comes in a vast array of grades, different carbon content and alloy content like any other steel. Some grades are easier to work with than others. Have you checked for a chilled face on this thing yet? A chilled face may make for a decent anvil as is since it is pretty resilient for CI. Have you done a ball bearing test on it? If it gets 50% I sure wouldn't mess with it.

To hard face you are going to need to lay down an interface layer between the CI and the hardface rod. You may be able to get away with laying mild onto the CI, which will mix with the base material and make higher carbon steel. Might also break it outright. Laying nickel down is safer, but a whole lot more expensive.

I am no expert and my welds look like animal droppings still.

Phil

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Yes BUT. Lousy but....

CI comes in a vast array of grades, different carbon content and alloy content like any other steel. Some grades are easier to work with than others. Have you checked for a chilled face on this thing yet? A chilled face may make for a decent anvil as is since it is pretty resilient for CI. Have you done a ball bearing test on it? If it gets 50% I sure wouldn't mess with it.

To hard face you are going to need to lay down an interface layer between the CI and the hardface rod. You may be able to get away with laying mild onto the CI, which will mix with the base material and make higher carbon steel. Might also break it outright. Laying nickel down is safer, but a whole lot more expensive.

I am no expert and my welds look like animal droppings still.

Phil


Thanks Phil and Ken and everyone else.

The ball bearing bounce test came back at around 25% - my heart sank at that.

After listening to everyone's advice I'm beginning to accept that this may be just a pointless exercise.
I mean it's not like I'm hurting for anvils (four at the last count not counting my mild steel block anvil).
I think I just wanted to do it for the sake of saying I tried. But I also realize that it is going to take YEARS of welding experience before I'm even ready to tackle a refacing job. Too much to learn to tackle this anytime soon. So, I think I'll follow Curly George's advice and clean her up and use her anyway. So long as I work hot, it should be okay for a while - or I can just use my 90lb Mousehole.
Thanks everyone. One day you will see my post on my first welding project - I still plan to learn how to weld ... an absolute necessity for a contemporary blacksmith in my opinion. Besides it's metal and fire - WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO PLAY WITH THAT ???? ;)

Take care everyone. And thanks again.

Sam
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