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I Forge Iron

What are my options for a protective layer on my anvil?

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Some people have mentioned putting a layer of paint on their anvils, but I think I'd rather have whatever protection I put on there be clear so the actual metal is showing. Anyone got some suggestions on what I can put on there to keep it from rusting? It doesn't seem like a regular clear coat would really work.

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I use wax.

I mixed up a concoction that is popular as a finish, and use it.

1 part wax (bee's recommended, I used paraffin.
1 part turpentine
1/2 to 1 part linseed oil

Using a double boiler, melt the wax, then take it all outside. The heated water is enough heat to finish. Add turpentine and linseed oil, mix well, transfer to a heat resistant can like a clean metal paint can. Cover and let cool. Forms a paste product that can be used on hot or cold metal, wood and other materials. Apply, let dry and buff.

Use in a well ventilated space.

I find that the metal of the anvil will slowly brown through the wax, but does not form rust that will transfer to clothing.


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Most don't bother. Working on it will keep the face and horn free from rust. The body of mine is coated with wax, that was used by the previous owner to highlight the markings for sale. Others have mentioned ATF. None of the anvils at Vista Forge are coated, and they're just fine.

But if you want to coat, I'd say wax or ATF.

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whatcha wanna do is get out the buffin wheel and green compound... buff buff buff till that sucker shines like a new chrome bumper...... that'll stop the rust...

it'll be hard to stare at it
it'll be hard to work on it

an eventually you'll develop an appreciation for a rusty anvil that was easy to look at and ya got alot of work done on it

just teasin

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I have a little can full of axle grease and motor oil. I chuck up a little wire brush in my drill and stick it in the can while spinning.
I clean the anvil with the wire brush and add a protective layer that gets in all the nooks and crannies, all in one lazy step.
I also do this to my post vise.
An old anvil usually has a wrought iron body. Wrought Iron doesn't rust as easily as modern mild steel, and this works in my favor.

I've only had to do this to my anvil a couple times, and it is stored outside in rainy NW Oregon.

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I wire brush off any excess rust from the base and sides of my RR anvil and leg vise then spray a heavy coat of WD40 and leave it. After it dries it seems to leave a nice oily film that prevents them from rusting. I wipe off the working surfaces well as not to transfer oil to all my work. I do this once a month or so depending on how humid its been or if they've gotten rained on, ect... It does the trick for me and both have a nice patina.

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Most of my anvils are painted on the sides. If I have to leave them for any time I put the thinnest coat of grease on the face. I think the big one is currently unpainted so is probably greased as it isn't rusting. Really unless it is very humid, as ir is here, just don't worry.

To hijack the thread a bit I have seen the tip of the horn of an anvil painted a bright colour so as to avoid walking into it. What does anybody think?? Impaling the sciatic nerve on a pointed bit of tool steel can be a stimulating experience!

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This is by way of an explanation to the blacksmith professionals and is meant to reflect reality.

I use my anvil 2 or 3 times a month.

My anvil sits out-of-doors in all weathers.

I do not make my living on my anvil.

I do like to preserve my anvil when it is not in use.

So I coat the working surface with wax polish.

I use satire, exaggeration and sarcasm to stop me feeling guilt about being a smithing hobbyist.

And a hypothetical Brown Bess flintlock musket to keep the purists at bay.

If I have offended you, I ask that you consider why.

But what, exactly, is your problem with people who probably would love to beat their anvil into shining, but cannot, owing to real life pressures?

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i do most my my work out in our barn or in the attached shop and its quite humid in there i have had very good luck with butchers wax it looks good and seems to keep the rust off if i know i am not going to be doing much smithing work i pop open the tin and put a thin coat on the face and horn and i have had no problems with rust

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok here it is one more time. ya want patina(RUST) I can't help ya. Ya want it to look like a new 100 yr old anvil(mine do)
I use the same stove black (polish) I use on Ya guessed it on my wood stove. Slather it on and buff. No rust just a nice old lookin black body with a shinney face. makes the old wood burner look like new also. Use it on sides of hammer heads also. My grampaw
taught rust is rust NOT patina. OK pop I finally hear ya(45yrs too late)

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Ive recently taken to wire brushing them with an angle grinder to get the worst of the flakey stuff off, I then 'ensis' them, this is an anti-rust we use at work, it seems to be a wax in a solvent. When this is painted over the remaining rust it goes a lovely 'leathery' brown. I have also done a couple recently with graphite stove polish, which buffs to a lovely deep dark grey luster.

My 'user' is painted with a very thin coat of black gloss, and gets a wipe of oil on the face and horn every now and then.

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