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I Forge Iron

DIY Anvil

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Hi there

My name is Leon and I'm becoming an addict :D

I have been lurking in the dark corners of these forums for a while, just reading and trying to learn what I can. The one thing that I did pick up on is that the anvil to some is almost a deity, so I figured even before selecting a decent hammer, I should look into getting or making an anvil. Seen as how the anvil is such a personal thing to some, I settled on making instead of getting. (Yip another noob trying his luck :rolleyes: )

I have read the big-stone-little-stone analogy a few times over so I know anything can be an anvil and anything can be a hammer. It's just easier if you don't have to explain to visitors why you're pounding away on a stone when there's so much steel available.

At my local scrap yard I picked up a few offcuts of some kind of steel. They were cut with either laser or else plasma. The four bigger pieces are about 3" thick. I'm not a metalurgist but I can only guess that something this thick will not be used to make house numbers for decorating somebody's house wall. Instead, it is probably used in constructing some relatively large objects or machines. Assuming this to be true, I am hoping that I have some fair to decent quality steel.

On to the first question(s) then:
These chunks are 3" thick. I was aiming for at least 4" but couldn't find any pieces that thick. I was lucky enough to pick up duplicates so I'm aiming to weld them together to make a 6" thick anvil. Now I'm hoping these last few words didn't cause any sudden pains in your chests or shortness of breath but that's why I'm here - most of you know a thing or two that I don't (a thing or two-hundred is more likely). The question: Will such a large weld be bad for the overall quality of the anvil? Should I rather go with two seperate smaller anvils instead of trying to make it this wide? If the weld isn't such a bad idea, what kind of rod should I be looking at for this job?

Still on the theme of welding: All these pieces have a short cut on the tops from where the plasma/laser started its cut. Same question as above - can I just weld up the cuts or shoudl I rather cut/grind to get rid of the slits?

The pix:
The two bigger pieces with the slit visible in the non-rusted one.
http://www.leonhoman...pre_anvil_1.jpg (You are not allowed to use that image extension on this community.)??? - I'll get that figured out sometime.

My collection so far: The truck compressor will become the forge. (The burner is still in the making. Pretty much the same as THIS - about 80% complete) The two larger chunks I'm hoping to join at the hip. The two smaller twins will similarly be joined side-by-side and then shaped to become the heel complete with hardie hole etc. The small horn-shaped object was originally intended for the horn but I'm still looking for alternatives. The little 'L' shaped block in the foreground... that was just to pretty to leave behind at the scrap yard :wub:
http://www.leonhoman...pre_anvil_2.jpg (You are not allowed to use that image extension on this community.)??? - I'll get that figured out sometime.

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May I commend to your attention an article on DIY anvils: www.metalwebnews.com/howto/anvil1/anvil2.html

Unfortunately heavy stock is less likely to be a higher alloy than some lighter stock---it costs a heap of a lot more and so they tend to economize on it. So you most likely have A-36 which is generally used when you need steel over cast iron and don't want to pay out the nose for special alloy stuff. The grinding should tell you.

If you can do good deep welds I'd go for the two piece anvil and would suggest you think about hardfacing it as Ernie suggests. They are a bit small for a good sized anvil even welded all together so separating them would not be my suggestion.

OTOH just using it as it stands and grinding it smooth as necessary is a very valid way to go as well.

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A36 is OK, not great, as an anvil, but you can hardface later. Buildup rod/wire is better suited for high impact low abrasion that an anvil gets.

If it is very well supported then a lighter anvil will do good work, but it is true there is no substitute for mass. Whatever you build fasten it down well.

A 3 inch face is a decent size. I would hesitate to fab up something with a 6 inch face on it.


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Thanks for the replies so far.

@Thomas - thanks, I've been over that link and they explain the hardfacing very well but no word about my crazy idea to weld the pieces together.

Some things I should have probably mentioned in my original post:
Goal for this anvil - Whatever comes up. I will most likely not do jewelry or horse shoes other than experimenting. That's the reason I was thinking of going a bit bigger than 3".

Welding - I should have mentioned that hardfacing will definitely be done at the end, regardless of what steel I got. With this in mind, is the (probably) A36 still OK?

The welding I was referring to was sticking the two pieces together side by side and making it all into one solid piece - not just welding up on the sides. The idea is to grind/cut them down to a V or a J and then building it up from the middle of the piece towards the edges. The total height of this weld would be about 10 to 12 inches. What I wanted to know about the welding is if this would be bad or very bad?

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Since the face of your largest hammer (largest one-handed hammer, anyway) probably isn't more than about 2.5" across the widest dimension, I'm not sure I see a real advantage to welding the pieces together side-by-side. A 6" wide face is mostly wasted unless you're doing a lot of work with a sledge, in which case you probably want a considerably heavier anvil, anyway. You would get more mass directly under the hammer -- and thus probably more benefit -- by stacking them on top of one another (with the 3" face as the top surface) and welding them up that way. I don't know if it's necessary to weld the slits, but it probably wouldn't hurt. I would also make sure they are oriented vertically in whatever anvil configuration you settle on.

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Hi Leon, and welcome to the metal mangler addiction. Warning: the desire to own and use an anvil is a bad sign. An anvil is a gateway drug to more serious problems: one is too many and pillars of anvils in the corners are never enough. Soon you will find yourself in seedy back alleys dealing with iron peddlers and worse: scrappers! The paraphernalia of your addiction will take over your life and your space. Hammers and tongs will spill out of racks, welding leads will wrap around your feet. Your old friends will avoid you, as you will wander around muttering, speaking in tongues of bainite and E7018. You will spend your last coins for a hit of propane just so you can run your forge without the neighbors smelling the coal smoke and turning you in to the police.

In other words, enjoy!

Seriously, V-groove welds as deep as you can go in that cut will keep it from being a tuning fork. Vibration is the enemy. On A36 any standard wire and process will work if it is hot enough.

Historically, small mass 6 inch wide anvils are rare. But they were welded, either 3-5 pieces of forge welded wrought iron, or later, 2 pieces arc welded at the waist.

I would suggest welding on a side shelf like an Austrian anvil if I needed more than 3" to work on. I would also turn each chunk into a different shaped anvil: one London pattern, one Brazeal fuller pattern, one Brazeal striker pattern, one Hofi pattern. Or sacrificing one of the smaller chunks to use as feet to increase the mass of some of the others if no other steel is available.

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I would also turn each chunk into a different shaped anvil: one London pattern, one Brazeal fuller pattern, one Brazeal striker pattern, one Hofi pattern. Or sacrificing one of the smaller chunks to use as feet to increase the mass of some of the others if no other steel is available.

On the one hand you warn me about the dangers of addiction and on the other hand you "suggest" I make a multitude of smaller anvils... Sounds to me you've started with your 12 steps and then relapsed :D

Thanks a lot for the advice and for the humour. For now I intend making one larg-ish anvil (I need more steel, Igor...more STEEEEEL Muahahaha) and then, once I've lost most of my friends, I'll probably look into getting/making more.

I started making the forge today... or more accurately, I cut open the tank, cleaned it out and hammered some of the dings out using the two smaller chunks of steel as anvils. Lesson no.1 - it is hard work to hammer on cold steel. And it was LOUD :o but so far the neighbours haven't complained. I live in a very forgiving neighbourhood - I forgive their raucous late-night parties and they forgive my early morning grinding and banging.
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Once you have your anvil, fasten it very tightly to a stand or stump. It will be much quieter once it is well fastened, and a smaller anvil that is well fastened will perform more similar to a larger anvil, due to being stationary.

Cold working metal is loud.


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