Perato

No anvils in Alaska? What to use for substitute.

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I've been wanting to work with metal for almost for about 5 years now, and my journey in the Air Force has finally given me time to pursue this interest. There is one problem I have run into though. I live in Alaska, and cannot find an anvil anywhere. I have heard of people using railroad rails as a low quality substitute and I am wondering if this is ok to start with. I want to start perfecting scroll work, tool making and repair and possibly blade making.

Thanks for your time

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome to IFI. I live near Fairbanks and your so right. Finding an anvil here is difficult. If you look up the Alaska Blacksmiths Association and join you may find one faster. Also, I may be wrong, I think they can get pieces of RR rail. Thats what I started with. Its a good substitute untill you find one. Also a railroad car knuckle. A large piece of plate. Say, 3.5" wide by 12" square. will make a fine anvil on end. Keep as much mass as you can under the hammer. A piece of square bar or round that is around 4" sq or round in a bucket of concrete is also a very good post anvil and many many knife makers use them as their primary anvils.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, I'll try to look around for some rail laying around the old railyards, I might get lucky. I'll keep an eye out for those plates that the rails attach to as well. I see about finding a metal scrapyard to see what they have lying around. So the most important thing is that the mass that the rail or metal is attached to is significant to bleed away the energy from the hammer blows?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about a heavy chunk of Dozer? far better than a piece of rail Mass directly under the hammer is what's important.

The japanese katana are forged on anvils that look like a rectangular hunk of steel. No heel, no horn and folks often consider them to be OK even if forged on such a simple anvil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out using a small section of rail then a train coupler knuckle and eventually an anvil. I was stationed in Kodiak and could get things brought up on a C-130. Check with some of the air crews and see if they might be willing to transport you one if you can get someone in the lower 48 to help on this end. Until then, the advice you've been given about scavenging up some large pieces of steel is sound advice. You will find a sense of pride in "making do" with what you have available. Good luck and thanks for your service!
You can check with one of the metal shops on the base if you are at Elmendorf and you can also check at Ft Rich. There should be some machine shops in Anchorage.

Mark <><

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in Anchorage, please do join us at the Alaska blacksmithing group on Yahoo, We have quite a few members and it would be worth posting a message for one. we meet quarterly and actually just had Brian Brazeal up teaching a class.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AKblacksmiths/
London pattern anvils are very versatile tools, but there were literally centuries worth of metalwork done with out them. master works of creative genius were wrought using any number of different styles and materials.
PM me if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea, I am at Elmendorf so I will have to pop into metals tech and see if they have any scrap lying around that could be used. I am excited to get started!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in Anchorage, please do join us at the Alaska blacksmithing group on Yahoo, We have quite a few members and it would be worth posting a message for one. we meet quarterly and actually just had Brian Brazeal up teaching a class.
http://groups.yahoo..../AKblacksmiths/
London pattern anvils are very versatile tools, but there were literally centuries worth of metalwork done with out them. master works of creative genius were wrought using any number of different styles and materials.
PM me if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help with.


I'll definitely join! It would be great to have some local experience as well as some people that know where to go locally for supplies and whatnot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have 3 pieces of 2.5"x4.5"x18" and 2 ea 2.5"x6.5"x18" steel in the back of my truck got it free Friday from a forklift fork mfg here in town. I also picked up a hole fork from a forklift salvage yard for scrap price. Look around for shops that do work on forklifts...

Also, call http://www.alaskasteel.com/steel.htm and ask if they have 4" or 5" square solid cutoff pieces.. You can do as small as 12", knuckle height would be great!

For a forge, go to a plumbing/heating A/C co....Ask for an old freon tank. I assume Alaska has A/C??? Line the forge with Inswool and refractory cement. Buy/build a venturi burner and start hammering!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marksnagel: When I was welding for the Coast Guard on Kodiak in the late 1970,s there was a treasure trove of blacksmithing tools there at the South end of the island. Sailing ships from San Francisco used to come up to get Salt Salmon in barrels to take back South. I was there in a little TaylorCraft so couldn't bring back any of it. Complete shop!!!
Perato: Even though there is a blacksmith association there(which did not exist when I was there) don't think they've gotten all the "good stuff". Alaska is a big state and there are old shutdown canneries all over the place. They all had shops. Start asking questions and snooping!!! Good Luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you! I'll keep you guys informed on how everything goes. I'll try to put up pictures of how I set up my forge when I set it up this weekend. I was looking online and there is a place that sells a 4" X 4" solid steel block for 85 bucks. I'm wondering if that will work if attached to a 4 X 4 that's cemented into a bucket. I also found a supplier of coal in the valley that sells 50# bags for 10 bucks. Hopefully everything starts to come together soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will probably get started on some stock removal knives before I get my forge and anvil set up as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perato,hi.Dig deeper into the maintenance dept.on base,USAF used 100# and 200# Vulkans(an inexpensive,in it's day,american-made cast iron anvil,VERY much sufficient for everything).The old tooling as well,as the guys said,but this is current(they're filed somewhere on the shelf in your transport maint.).
4" x 4" is great too,as long as you can get,but even a cube is bigger than most anvils used historically*.
Yesterday i had to use an outer ripper bit off of a D9,it's over 60#,has a cool shape,and worked really well.Look for ripper blades/teeth around the base,and yes,like has been said,parts of fork attachements.
Be leery of that coal:Soft Bituminous coal comes in many flavors,even from the same mine.What you found sounds like Usibelli mine stuff.Personally,i've failed to be able to utilise it(something about the type of ash that it makes).Also,it commonly has Sulfur inclusions quite visible to a naked eye(if you break some chunks)-not the best stuff for you.
AKFeed in Fairbanks carries official blacksmith coal(not cheap,over $1 a pound now,not sure-ask Bryan).The "pickable" coal could be had at Sutton(east of Palmer),at the Buffalo mine and other of the same complex.There used to be a fellow who owned a streak of metallurgical-grade coal,but i don't think that he ever went into business.
Anyway,try to find out where the source for that coal is,and try some before getting a whole bunch. And the very best of luck,no worries,tools will come your way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have pieces of forklift tine steel 6"x 3" for sale $100.00 a foot , 67lbs. MAILED to anywhere in the USA . This is an anvil. In my opinion, rail road rails are good for trains to run on, and little else. You could do very well with this anvil untill you find a traditionally shaped anvil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May I commend to your attention this method of making a great anvil from locally available scrap:

http://www.marco-borromei.com/fork.html

Of course I'm the Thomas mentioned and have the mate to that piece in my scrap pile here in NM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That looks great Thomas! This is why I like working with metal, because with enough ingenuity, it seems like I can just make my anvil here locally and of course the forge as well. Really awesome way to recycle old steel!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last time I bought coal at AK Feeds in Fairbanks it was $35 for 50 lbs. I really like it. It cokes up excellently and is my favorite fuel for forging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its a long drive to get coal, but I may have to do that if I can't find a good grade around here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, I'll try to look around for some rail laying around the old railyards, I might get lucky. I'll keep an eye out for those plates that the rails attach to as well. I see about finding a metal scrapyard to see what they have lying around. So the most important thing is that the mass that the rail or metal is attached to is significant to bleed away the energy from the hammer blows?

the opposite, the more mass is used to rebound the impact from the hammer and in a sense hit from below, taking energy away "bleeding away " as you put it would have negative consequences. essentially, the more mass=greater rebound=less work for you, less mass/shock absorbant material=less rebound=more work for you
hope this helps,
monty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started on a piece of RR rail but I mounted it vertically so that the mass of the rail was directly under the hammer. It makes a smaller work surface but it's more solid under the hammer. If I had to go back to rail I'd probably get 2 pieces, one vertical and one horizontal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard, glad to have you. I'm in the Mat Su Valley just the far side of Wasilla, about 50 miles from the main gate of Elmendorf. I enjoy having guys out to play with fire and hit things with hammers. I can also hook you up with the Association of Alaskan Blacksmiths.

I typically run Propane, in a home made forge and home made burners. I can point you to suppliers of the bits and pieces and better yet E.J Bartells supplier of high end refractories who gives AAB members a discount.

So, shoot me a message and come on out.

Frosty the Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.