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One of the guys in our Guild is looking into having some anvils cast ...on checking in Anvils in America I see where in the past anvils were cast of Vanadium steel,4140,4130,8630,ductile iron.,and H13.
anybody have any suggestions as to what to have them cast from?

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I'm thinking H13 is wasting a high alloy. It's a hot working steel and not necessary for anvils, though some folk are using H13 in their anvils.

If I had to choose I'd go with 4140, I don't know enough about the vanadium alloy to choose it at this point. Vanadium alloys can be both hard and tough as all get out so would probably make good anvils but you have to know what alloy to use. 4130 is low carbon intended for stress environments where work hardening is a BAD thing, aircraft frames for instance. It doesn't get hard, it's designed and alloyed to NOT get hard so it's plenty tough enough but isn't gong to be hard enough to resist denting.

Bear in mind these were my musings, I'm no expert and I'm sure lots of guys here know a lot more about it than I.

Frosty the Lucky.

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I believe I have heard of 6150 being used as well. I think you should talk with the heat treater or foundry and see what they suggest as well. Some steels are difficult to harden when they are too thick in cross section. I use 4140 for hammers and water harden with a face quench and it has always worked well. I recently tried a similar quench with hammer dies made out of 4140 and both of them cracked and failed on me. They were thicker in cross section than the end of a hand hammer and apparently that was enough to cause failure. I hardened another one in oil with a complete quench and it worked fine. So I guess I am saying that a heat treater would have a better idea what teh end properties would be after heat treat.

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What about a manganese steel like is used in rail roads? This is a work hardening steel and if any of you have a piece of modern RR you know, it can be quite tough. Other than that, the Vanadium steel isn't specific enough and of the rest the 4140 would be the best. Just my opinion, does't amount to much.

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If it were my anvil, I'd use 4340. You can get very good hardness out of it and it has good hardenability. The nickel alloying addition results in very good toughness as well. I would cast the thing, shape it, grind, clean up the hardy hole, drill the pritchels, and then I would induction harden the face of it from horn tip to horn tip (i'd make mine a double horn german pattern). I'd probably have it induction hardened to about 58 Rockwell C with a depth of around 1/2" or a bit deeper. This should result in a very durable anvil without having to go to a higher alloy tool steel.

From the hardnesses that I've seen typically reported for anvil faces, I don't think you would have to go much over a xx40 steel in terms of the carbon content. So at that point your alloying elements just need to be adjusted so you can get the hardened depth and properties you want. I would guess 4140 would work just fine, but if you had the option, the nickel in 4340 would make the face more chip resistant in the long run if the anvil may be subject to some unforeseen abuse.

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Go with what does the job and keeps the cost down. I believe that choice would be 8630. Kenny Mankel and Tom Clark were having a conversation about that very thing a while back in 2002 or 2003. Tom used S7; Kenny used 8630. They both got hard enough, but the material costs were quite different, and the cost of heat treating was also quite different. Tom had to send his to get heat treated, where Kenny could do it in his shop.

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Thanks Brian for the reply. I had thought that Tom was using S7 for a while but didn't want to say as I was not sure. I know that the last anvils were made of something other that S7 because they were having issues hardening them (this may have been after Tom passed). I was thinking it was 6150 but am not sure I might try to call someone who might know what the latest ones were cast from and post it here later.
By the way Brian I was reading an older thread again about the slitting and drifting tools and really appreciated your input on that one. I am going to be making a set of 1/2 inch slit/punch and drifts for the toolbox at teh BAM conference in a few weeks.

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I just got off the phone with Bob Alexander who had the last of the Ozark pattern anvils and he said Tom was using 8640 for the anvils. He is currently looking for a foundry to cast more anvils.

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I guess Tom listened to Kenny after all. Tom was sure pushing the S7 back then. Kenny would suspend his anvils upside down in a circulating trough of water to harden them.
I just got an Email this morning for contributions for the BAM box at the ABANA Conference this year. I'll make something.
BAM sure has alot of good members that do alot for blacksmithing!

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There is a foundry in Phoenix called dolphin cast and they are doing some anvils their prices were reasonable. I have looked into having some of my tools cast there. I have had trouble getting s7 hard enough in thick cross sestions. I wish it was easier to get good results with a hard face plate, that would make the whole problem go away.

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Brian,
That is great to hear you will be adding something to the BAM box for the ABANA Conference. I encourage anyone interested to get involved with that. It is an awesome tradition and I encourage everyone to get involved. It is a cool way to get your skills out there and help raise funds to continue the education of blacksmithing and also allow the lucky winner a GREAT box full of tools!

I think Jymm Hoffmann uses H13 when pouring his anvils. You may want to talk to him to get the details and reasons for why he does what he does.

Peyton

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One of the advantages of using H13 steel to cast an anvil is that it is air hardening. You don't need 100's gallons of flowing water to harden it or a vast tank of smoking/flaming oil. The hot working properties are not really needed for an anvil though.

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I've go an old vanadium steel cast West anvil about 175#, and it looks brand new after 80 or so years. Made in Cleveland. Excellent rebound and rings very loud and clear.

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A while back I was studying anvils and ran across this in a advertisement

JHM Anvils are made in the U.S.A. Since 1983, JHM anvils have been cast from the highest quality metals in Peaster, Texas foundry and are carefully machined by hand.

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I know now Rhino anvils are made in USA they are hardened to HRC52. They are cast out of a grade of steel that is used for rock crusher blades! That is why they get so hard. I think it is a custom mix but will find out if I can.

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Keep in mind that only the face of an anvil really needs to be hard. Therefore an inexpensive shallow hardening grade can be used provided the proper heat treatment is employed. It's been awhile since I looked at the chemistry of the material being used by Old World Anvils, but when last I check this was a plain carbon steel with bit of extra manganese. When I say a bit I'm talking well under 2% and the carbon content wasn't that high either, around 0.3% if I recall correctly. This grade should be about as cheap as you can get since it has virtually none of the more costly alloys like nickel, chrome, and molybdenum. To heat treat, heat the face only and quench.
All those other elements besides carbon and manganese do increase hardenabilty which means you can get high hardness to a deeper depth, but that is not necessary for an anvil. Certainly a grade like H13 is air hardening and that makes heat treat easy, but that is a pretty expensive grade and you really don't get much of a performance boost by using it. In my opinion, using those other grades primarily provides a marketing advantage since the are recognized in the blacksmithing communty as being good steels. They all still have to be heat treated correctly to deliver the expected performance.

Patrick

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Keep in mind that only the face of an anvil really needs to be hard. Therefore an inexpensive shallow hardening grade can be used provided the proper heat treatment is employed. It's been awhile since I looked at the chemistry of the material being used by Old World Anvils, but when last I check this was a plain carbon steel with bit of extra manganese. When I say a bit I'm talking well under 2% and the carbon content wasn't that high either, around 0.3% if I recall correctly. This grade should be about as cheap as you can get since it has virtually none of the more costly alloys like nickel, chrome, and molybdenum. To heat treat, heat the face only and quench.
All those other elements besides carbon and manganese do increase hardenabilty which means you can get high hardness to a deeper depth, but that is not necessary for an anvil. Certainly a grade like H13 is air hardening and that makes heat treat easy, but that is a pretty expensive grade and you really don't get much of a performance boost by using it. In my opinion, using those other grades primarily provides a marketing advantage since the are recognized in the blacksmithing communty as being good steels. They all still have to be heat treated correctly to deliver the expected performance.
Exactly!
Patrick

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The new US made Rhinos are Brinell 500. The composition is:
C 2.8%
Si 0.3%
Mn 0.2%
Ni 3.0%
Cr 1.5%
S 0.12%
P 0.15%
Mo 0.5%

At guaranteed Brinell 500 how much harder do you want to go? There is also a high level of toughness with this alloy.

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Keep in mind that only the face of an anvil really needs to be hard. Therefore an inexpensive shallow hardening grade can be used provided the proper heat treatment is employed. It's been awhile since I looked at the chemistry of the material being used by Old World Anvils, but when last I check this was a plain carbon steel with bit of extra manganese. When I say a bit I'm talking well under 2% and the carbon content wasn't that high either, around 0.3% if I recall correctly. This grade should be about as cheap as you can get since it has virtually none of the more costly alloys like nickel, chrome, and molybdenum. To heat treat, heat the face only and quench.
All those other elements besides carbon and manganese do increase hardenabilty which means you can get high hardness to a deeper depth, but that is not necessary for an anvil. Certainly a grade like H13 is air hardening and that makes heat treat easy, but that is a pretty expensive grade and you really don't get much of a performance boost by using it. In my opinion, using those other grades primarily provides a marketing advantage since the are recognized in the blacksmithing communty as being good steels. They all still have to be heat treated correctly to deliver the expected performance.

Patrick
I think the reason some of these anvils were cast from H13 is a large quantity of drops from some other manufacturing process were available at very reasonable prices. Everything you say is absolutely correct from my experience as well. But if you can get the steel on the cheep why not?

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With modern casting techniques realistically the only way you are going to be able to make anvils will be as a drop at the end of a melt for another purpose- unless you are willing to take a huge weight of anvils! To take a full melt from a modern caster would be so big and, therefore, expensive that it would be impossible. It would take a few lifetimes to sell that many anvils.

The heat treatment is every bit as important as the correct alloy of course.

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Brinell of 500 is equivalent to HRC 50 to 51. That would be an anvil on the softer side of anvils. JHM anvils are ductile cast iron which is suitable for an anvil, but not as strong or hard as some cast steel anvils.

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Phillip, I see on your composition of the Rhino anvil the carbon content is 2.8%. I've always read that carbon over about 1.8% indicates cast iron. Is your composition list in error or are the anvils a ductile cast iron?

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