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I Forge Iron

I'd like to make an anvil.


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Kinda :).
I've been having bad luck in my part of the country (upstate NY) finding an anvil at a reasonable cost, and I have all sorts of scrap. I found a chunk of 1/4 inch SOMETHING that was shaped like a cone, from 4 inches to 1 inch over 12 inches lengh, with a threaded rod on the end (figured I could tap a chunk of metal thread it on, and grind it to fit) for the horn. I have a few various lengths of I beam in my woods, would make a great stand I would think, with a 1/4 inch, 2'x2' base, gusseted, with some hard metal welded, or bolted (so I could harden/temper?) on top. What I'd like to know is, does anyone have any experience with this kind of setup? Not the horn so much, I'm of the opinion that can be rigged up out of a lot of different things if one swings in that direction. But would a roughly 6x8 I beam be enough mass underneath? What kind of metal would I need for the surface? I don't know much (in fact, very little!) about the properties of metal, and I'm also broke :P, so my plan is to give the ol' doe eyes to the local steel farm. Any ideas/suggestions?

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My opinion, take it or leave it. Cut 8-10 inches of your I-beam nice and square. Stand it upright. Plate weld the loose sides with some 1/4 inch plate or thicker. Take misc 10 inch lengths of scrap and fill in the 2 voids nice and tight, grinding when required to get a nice tight pack. take the misc chunks out, one at a time, and grind bevels on the ends. Weld up the gridwork from each end, then grind flat. grind a heckofa bevel around the outside edges, then weld a 1 inch plate on both ends. after it cools, leave one edge sharp, and grind 3 other radiuses on the other edges of the top plate. 3/4, 3/8/, 1/4 radius, fourth edge stays sharp. Set your block on a stump, and build up retainers on the edges with screws and 2/x/6's, so it stays put. You'll be able to approach the stump at whatever face you want, the mass should give you the same inertial sweet spot as a small anvil, like 60-80 pound. Work smart. When your steel isn't bright red, put it back in the fire. You'll do fine. The funny thing is, as soon as you get used to your set-up, somebody at the grocery store will see your blacksmith tee-shirt, and give you an anvil that's been setting in their garage for decades. You can give the anvil block you made to the next student that comes along.

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Hey Dan,

I went 8 months before I acquired an anvil. Prior to that I used an old RR train coupler knuckle which I still use some and before that a piece of RR track. No there is not a train car running free on a broken track. Anything I got from the RR was given to me by someone at the railroad with permission. Things will come together for you. Patience is a virtue but making your own anvil is a great idea until you get one. Making one will be a good teaching experience for you. Good luck making one and better luck finding one.

Mark<><

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ide save a bit look around ask all your friends and neibors and get a real anvil ... i know you can find one for a few hundred dollars (300-400)keep lookin a real anvil is worth the price .. if you have to make one buy a big chunk of steel (preferably a alloy steel say 4140 ect) and use that .. i beam makes a lousy anvil.. rr track can work but dosnt work as well as a real anvil .. consider a real anvil as a investment ... theyre not going down in price so theyre better than most investments .. ive seen many make do and even used a few .. the only one that really worked was a 300 lb chunk of steel .. mas is king when building anvils and hard is nice also...

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you can make a "Brazeal style" anvil with a piece of heavy plate on edge, the only tools you need are a cutting torch and a grinder, this is one that I made out of a chunk of mild steel, it holds up nicely and you can really move metal with the drawing and fullering dies
post-10376-0-03985000-1297007937_thumb.jpost-10376-0-55713900-1297007943_thumb.j

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Dan,
It was many months of serious looking b4 I found an anvil that wasn't severly damaged or over priced. In the mean time, unless you are doing small work only b4 monkeying with building out an I-beam check if there is a heavy equipment salvage yard in your area as there are many pieces to be salvaged and used as an anvil for free, cheap or scrap rate. The key is heavy and hard. If you find heavy and soft, just harden the face - blacksmith. There are some simple to follow directions in Weygers' "The Complete Modern BLacksmith" and if you are newer at smithing than I am, you should own a copy anyways.

Good Hunting

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Dan,
It was many months of serious looking b4 I found an anvil that wasn't severly damaged or over priced. In the mean time, unless you are doing small work only b4 monkeying with building out an I-beam check if there is a heavy equipment salvage yard in your area as there are many pieces to be salvaged and used as an anvil for free, cheap or scrap rate. The key is heavy and hard. If you find heavy and soft, just harden the face - blacksmith. There are some simple to follow directions in Weygers' "The Complete Modern BLacksmith" and if you are newer at smithing than I am, you should own a copy anyways.

Good Hunting



Found this image on the site, RR plate is definetly hard enough.post-12322-0-72250700-1297022984_thumb.j
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Well, thanks for all the suggestions! The reason I was interested in making one is that I really enjoy that sort of thing. I plan on keeping my eyes open for a "real" one, but in the mean time, I wouldn't consider it a waste to fart around with a welder. I like mike's idea of making a cube with various radii. Now I just have to work up the courage to drag the torches out into the snowy woods to slice off a chunk of that I beam... :P

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Let me rephrase your post a bit: "I don't have a lot of money so I want to spend a whole lot of time, consumables and rod that would add up to several times the cost of just getting a big hunk of steel and all to make a not very good anvil". When phrased this way does it sound different?

If you are a good welder put up a card at the local feed store saying "will trade welding for a good using anvil".

I beam is terrible for an anvil as it's made for a totally different use---they want it as light as possible for it's size Anvils profit from being a "compact" a mass of steel---any daylight under where the hammer hits is a loss!

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Let me rephrase your post a bit: "I don't have a lot of money so I want to spend a whole lot of time, consumables and rod that would add up to several times the cost of just getting a big hunk of steel and all to make a not very good anvil". When phrased this way does it sound different?


Well, it sure does sound different, but you left out the "have a heck of a lot of fun while trying to do something silly" part!


If you are a good welder put up a card at the local feed store saying "will trade welding for a good using anvil".


I'm not a very experienced welder, certainly not enough to warrant work for others. But there's only one way to get better. Even if the finished product isn't much better than my railroad rail, I'll probably at least have learned something (like "just buy an anvil, you fool!") :P


I beam is terrible for an anvil as it's made for a totally different use---they want it as light as possible for it's size Anvils profit from being a "compact" a mass of steel---any daylight under where the hammer hits is a loss!


This I agree with you on, though I might still see if I have what I need for the boxed in scrap idea. With any luck, while digging the beam out of the snow, I'll find an enormous piece of steel I can just set on a stump and be done with. A guy can dream, right?
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Im new to this so I hope im posting correctly here, but I feel your pain on finding a good anvil, I have been a day late on craigslist for last six months, but I love to hammer so in the mean time Ive done a few things towards the homemade anvil route. I know a real anvil is best, but anything is always better than nothing, so go for it and start enjoying while you seacrh for a better. I have a feeling that ten years from now I will still be looking for the "next upgrade"

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Instead of dinking around with I-beam go to some rental yards, or scrap yards, and ask for a bad forlift fork. When they get bent, they replace them. I posted in another thread what alloys are used by a couple of the forklift mfgs. Those are a known good material, and they make a fine anvil. So if you are looking to burn some rod, you might as well do something worthwhile with your time, and limited funds. Jess sayin' ;) You'll have just as much fun, and you won't be silly doing it.

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I'm afraid that Thomas is correct. He has had a lot of time to think about this stuff. I have a few comments from my particular experience. First, I am not as good as he is at finding anvils. So, if you have a nice big welder sitting there, and your mean time between anvils is more than a few years (anvil free half-life), it becomes more attractive to start welding. Most people are a lot better at finding anvils than I am. They are also a lot better at welding than I am. I took one class at adult school. Each guy was allowed to run about a foot of beads on a lousy old piece of plate, then it was the next guy's turn. The instructor would critique the beads, and you might have gotten one more try. When he looked at mine, he said not so good, but good enough for a blacksmith, next... So, I didn't learn too much in that class.

What does this have to do with making anvils? Well, the old timers say that you shouldn't complain about welding until you have burned a full 50 lb. can of rods practicing. Not 10 lb. And certainly not one foot of beads, done in a rush. So, the 50 lb. of rods is not an additional expense, it is part of training expenses that the old timer told me I had to burn anyway. I can either burn it on a bunch of junk plate, or I can make an anvil. As for the price of rod, 50 lb. of rod (get 7018 AC) is not much compared to the price of a class. And, you mentioned that you are short on cash. Around here, junk welding rod is pretty cheap at garage sales. Even close to free. If you can get it for .25 per pound, it is as good as free. I remember seeing a demo where the smith had made an incredible array of tools out of junk. I noticed that the welds were ropey and porous. I asked, garage sale rod, huh. Yup.

One thing about the welding to watch out for: do not just box in the ends of I beam, fill it full of junk bits of metal like nails, screws, galvanized pipe fittings, dead mice, etc. and go to town with the welder turned up high. Even though the fill will be strong and dense enough, it will not teach you anything, since it will not be like any real production welding job. And, you will end up breathing a lot of nasty fumes. Instead, get a copy of Lincoln's new lessons in arc welding and procedural handbook, and do the welds right. Cut, fab, or scarf out the correct bevels, and clean slag at least every three passes. Try to keep the rods dry and avoid porosity, even though it won't matter in the end result of the anvil build. Remember, this is also a welding class.

As for electricity, don't worry about that. Lincoln's book tells how to estimate electricity costs. They are a lot lower than the naysayers say. Electric arc welding is really an efficient way to deposit metal. As for shop time, and its high cost, remember that you are learning. The old timers will tell you not to do anything production until you have burned that 50 lb. of rod. From the sound of your post, it looks like you haven't done that yet.

Good luck and have fun. Try to find a big chunk or chunks from that bountiful scrap pile that you mentioned. And, remember, that torch that you mentioned will be used a lot in this project. Make sure that you know how to use it safely and efficiently. Just the other day, the neighborhood welding pro saw me heading to the backyard with a bunch of 7018 rods and a spark lighter. He pointed at the spark lighter and said, that's the wrong tool if you are planning to weld with those rods. Ummmm, I replied, it's heavy steel. How heavy? he asked. I replied, an anvil. Oh. OK...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Got this sucker done a few weeks ago, forgot to post a picture. It's a chunk of 3/4 I found for the top, 3/8" angle iron on the corners, boxed in with 1/8" plate. I had an old manure tine, 1 1/2" square, that I cut to go from the center of the top down to a piece of the same stock going across the long way at the bottom. Then I packed it full of mortar and old rusty nails. The finished dimensions are 5x10x8, and it weighs 60 lbs or so. Two edges are sharp, and two edges are 3/8ish" radius. It's a lot nicer to work on than my trolley rail section, though I can't wait to find a decent anvil to work on.

post-16770-0-64756600-1299472445_thumb.j

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