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Would you go bigger if you could?


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Mine is a 375# Budden, from a UP copper mine.  It's a big piece of metal, with the way my shop is arranged I don't have any trouble maneuvering around it, but I'm not looking forward to the inevitable day when I move and need to take my whole workshop with me (that'll be a U-Haul or two to itself).  That being said, if the price was right I'd get a slightly heavier one if it was a double horn, to supplement my Budden, probably not replace it. 
 
I know a guy with a 1000# anvil, I think it's a Refflinghaus, the face is like a table.


I came across a 250-300lb double horn anvil in a museum in Norway a couple of weeks back. Quite a beast but a real beauty. They had a small foot powered riveting forge too. Really nice kit.

Sensibly speaking a two man lift is a realistic weight to have around. But a 1000lb'er is a bit ott no? What on earth is he making? Tanks?

Andy
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Things like anchors take big anvils and for a professional smithy it may only need to be moved once a generation or so.  It's us hobby folks gadding about the place that often tend to move stuff around...  Remember that in a typical smithy you would expect to have 4 folks swinging a sledge on a big project.

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I have a 2.2.0 Brooks and a Bubba Rhino. The Bubba is about the size of the one you are talking about. I use the brooks more than any other anvil in the shop. It is as good an anvil as I have ever used. So to answer your question:

 

Yes, in theory a larger anvil is better. In practice I doubt if you would appreciate any difference between the 2 you mention.

 

A bigger anvil is harder to move and to walk round as you are working.

 

If I got the chance of a 3.0.0 Brooks anywhere else I would snap it up. Here I have 3 anvils and a swage block so have actually given away a couple of mid sized to big anvils purely because I did not have space for them!

 

In the old days most full time working blacksmiths managed fine on an anvil of around 1cwt or smaller. The big ones were for factories where they were doing big work and had teams of strikers doing huge forge welds. Unless you are going to do seriously big work a really big anvil is not necessary and, if limited in space, might be undesirable.

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My PW is only 250 lbs but the concrete block it's bolted to weighs 300 so the whole assembly is pretty close to unmoveable under normal conditions. I've had strikers working on it with 12 lb sledges and there is no lost energy from things scooting around when they shouldn't.

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I have a 400 lb HB I like the wide, long face and I really like the proportions of the horn.  Sometimes we work long pieces or wide stock it comes in handy in those situations.  Some times it is a bit awkward to maneuver around and forging hardie tools is a chore.   larger anvils are some times softer than smaller anvils because it is harder to quench such a large volume of steel quickly this will give you less rebound.  But it stays put when you wail on it. 

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My brother and I used a 110# fisher for a long time and between the two of us it was all we needed, I recently aquired a 270# William foster in the English pattern and I love it, but it is softer than the fisher and even my 100# peter wright, my shop is open on two sides so my anvils are expsosed to temp change according to the weather, the foster sucks the heat quickly until after a good hour of forging, so I would probably go bigger if it was a fisher but I can do most of my work including repair of old farm equipment on my 100# peter wright, but a really like the Italian pattern anvil so i would probably trade my large anvil for a smaller Italian pattern if the opportunity ever arose, mass is great but it is not everything. Just look at what Brian brazeal can do with his striking anvils, which in my humble opinion is a modern day bridge anvil, both are great designs!

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My brother and I used a 110# fisher for a long time and between the two of us it was all we needed, I recently aquired a 270# William foster in the English pattern and I love it, but it is softer than the fisher and even my 100# peter wright, my shop is open on two sides so my anvils are expsosed to temp change according to the weather, the foster sucks the heat quickly until after a good hour of forging, so I would probably go bigger if it was a fisher but I can do most of my work including repair of old farm equipment on my 100# peter wright, but a really like the Italian pattern anvil so i would probably trade my large anvil for a smaller Italian pattern if the opportunity ever arose, mass is great but it is not everything. Just look at what Brian brazeal can do with his striking anvils, which in my humble opinion is a modern day bridge anvil, both are great designs!


The face on my PW is very hard too. I'd really like to work on a fisher. You guys do rate them so highly!

I've seen people warming the face of their anvils, do you guys with the bigger anvils do this?
Andy
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Have a dead Peter wright and a lively German anvil and they are worlds apart when it comedy to forging. Too large of anvil causes problems you can't use the horn or draw across the face as they are too large so need a bick or block in hardy hole to get smaller

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"I've seen people warming the face of their anvils..."

 

Absolutely.  In the winter, especially.  This isn't always necessary, but it can be a good help if you're doing small work on a big anvil.  If you pay attention, you'll note that your heats seem to last longer after you've been forging for an hour or so.  I take this to mean that what you've done prior has brought the temperature of the anvil up a bit so that it's not sucking the heat out of your work piece nearly as fast.

 

My "smithy" isn't heated, so in the frigid temperatures of a South Carolina winter, the anvil can really take the heat out of your stock.  I knew one fellow that would point his propane torch at the anvil while he was busy putzying around the shop getting the forge started and sundry other tasks.

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My "smithy" isn't heated, so in the frigid temperatures of a South Carolina winter, the anvil can really take the heat out of your stock.  I knew one fellow that would point his propane torch at the anvil while he was busy putzying around the shop getting the forge started and sundry other tasks.

 

Try the dead of winter up north.  It's the one downside I find with my big anvil, it takes a long time to warm in the winter.  I heat up some big railroad track clips in the forge, one heating while the other's on the face.  Though, it's not so much the time I mind as the fuel used during the warmup.  If I had a decent anvil in the 100-150# range I'd swap them out around November. 

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We used to hang a couple of paint cans filled with burning wood scraps on the horn and heel of of a 400# Columbian---made a nice warm place to sit while work was reheating... Bruces technique of setting an old electric iron on his anvil set on cotton is sure slick.

(note that a sheet of plywood on the floor in front of the anvil helps keep your feet warmer in cold weather too)

 

Large hardy tooling---did you see my technique of buying trashed top tools---mushroomed/split/etc and then forging them to fit the hardy holes?  Last Q-S I was able to attend there was a fellow with a big table of grungy tooling that had the price drop every day. I was able to get a lot of tools that duplicated ones I had and used a lot with my smaller anvils.  My big screw press was a great help in getting the hardy stem faces smooth flat and parallel

 

Large horns:  I use the horn on my 515# fisher much more than I do on my smaller anvils as it's such a nice smooth broad curve it works great for drawing out and the anvil doesn't rock at all!  For most ring work I prefer a cone mandrel as it's circular and for small work I much prefer a Bick as it raises the work up and I do NOT allow sharp pointed anvil horns in my shop---I can hurt myself quite well without them; thank you very much!

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Everytime I get anvil fever (See a 500+ pounder for a decent price) I tell myself

 

"A bigger anvil wont make me a better blacksmith"

 

That line usually calms the fever down.

 

I was very lucky to find two nice 300 pound anvils, and with out a striker, I cant see needing a bigger one

 

I figure money is better spent on training and other tools that allow one man to acomplish a two man job.

 

 

On a side note, the thought of spending 2000 to 3000 dollars on 1 anvil and letting someone else swing a very large hammer at it, doesnt sound like a good time to me!

 

My name is marcus, and I have a confession to make,

 

I am offically a hypocrite. The fever finally got me, bought a 5 cwt HB yesterday......

 

So I guess I would if I could

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I said earlier that it is an aesopian phenomenon to show disdain for behemoth anvils.  Note, this, folks: every time a humongous anvil comes up for sale on ebay, it sells for HUMONGOUS money, and is bitterly contested.  There must be SOMEONE out there who wants big anvils for that to occur, lol!

You are precisely spot on, Stuart. It's the same set of emotions that causes people to pay $140K for a '58 Cameo.

 

http://www.omaha.com/article/20130928/NEWS/130928682/1707

 

It likely has more to do with vanity than utility but heck, anything is for sale at the right price...

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Nothing wrong with "anviling up" if a good deal comes along.  I feel it's a waste of resources to pay outrageous prices for an anvil when the same money could buy a powerhammer that will be much more of a help in the shop.

 

I anviled up until I got my 515# Fisher; since then I've been getting anvils; in the 100# to 150# range as I teach and like to have no more than 2 students per anvil and it's sure a lot easier to throw a couple of 110#'rs in the truck than a 250#'r.

 

On the other hand if the right deal came along I'd buy another behemoth and be bragging about it.

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My name is marcus, and I have a confession to make,

 

I am offically a hypocrite. The fever finally got me, bought a 5 cwt HB yesterday......

 

So I guess I would if I could

MMMM, a 560# Id like to see pics of that beaut...

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you can do small work on a big anvil, but you CANNOT do big work on a small anvil.................it is like running the Ididerod with chihuahuas..........

I have found my 200 fisher to be too small on a couple of occasions..Though most people have a hard time believing that..

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I am happy to forge on any anvil 200weight and up. I have an 800lb anvil in my main forge and its nice but hard to move around I find no advantage to its size unless forging on the bick where there is almost no movement..

 I have just got a 550 and am considering swapping them over to try for a change.

being able to move an anvil is useful and 200weight seems about my easy move limit.

 I am not sold on the anvil rebound thing at all . once you put a bit of soft hot metal in between anvil and hammer I do not think rebound comes into it at all.

 I am just as happy forging on a block of mild steel as a hardened anvil.

 Anvils can be quite beautiful objects and I will admit that I have acquired a few older ones that will only rarely see a hammer.......

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I am happy to forge on any anvil 200weight and up. I have an 800lb anvil in my main forge and its nice but hard to move around I find no advantage to its size unless forging on the bick where there is almost no movement..

 I have just got a 550 and am considering swapping them over to try for a change.

being able to move an anvil is useful and 200weight seems about my easy move limit.

 I am not sold on the anvil rebound thing at all . once you put a bit of soft hot metal in between anvil and hammer I do not think rebound comes into it at all.

 I am just as happy forging on a block of mild steel as a hardened anvil.

 Anvils can be quite beautiful objects and I will admit that I have acquired a few older ones that will only rarely see a hammer.......

 

Think of hammer rebound not so much as the hammer jumping off of the anvil/forging but as being just enough of a rebound to over come the inertia of the hammerhead and to suppliment the force needed to get the hammer moving up.  It is a matter of timing.   It should also be noted that if the handle is tightly gripped at the instant of the strike the rebound is largely absorbed by the forearm.  So there is the need to keep a loose grip on the handle in order to avoid dampening rebound , such as it is.

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With respect to rebound, I do believe there is some benefit to a hard face but the composition of the main anvil body may not mean much, i.e., a Fisher vs. a Peter Wright might be about equal.

 

I used to do blacksmithing at Ren fairs and folk-festivals - either on my portable equipment or whatever was available on-site.  At one event, we had a 100 lb Hay Budden next to a 100lb cast iron ASO with two smiths working off one forge fire.  There were four of us in attendance so two guys would work while two rested and talked to the crowds.  All of us got to work on both anvils and by Sunday evening, none of us wanted to hammer any more on the cast anvil because there was a noticeable difference in how tired our arms were after a session with that one.

 

Sometime after that, we had the same 100 lb Hay Budden next to a 300 Hay Budden and the only clear difference was that the bigger anvil didn't move around but working off either one was much easier than the ASO.

 

I personally like an anvil in the 200 to 250 range - as Owen said, mainly due to portability.  The largest I ever worked on habitually was a 300 and it was also fine - but I'm not particularly driven to get a larger one unless it drops in my lap (ouch! - LOL).

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There are always some people who want to brag how much they paid for something.

 

I however spent my highschool years in New Jersey where everyone was bragging about how cheap they couldda gotten that for you---"I couldda got that for you wholesale!---My cousin has a friend who's uncle's wife's brother-in-law...."

 

That combined with grandparents that weathered the great depression has lead to my thrifty ways.

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