norrin_radd

Need advice on some homebuilt anvil options

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Hey All,

My son and I are just getting into blacksmithing as a hobby. We've got access to a decent shop with welders and we modified a forge from a homemade hand crank deal we found, we just added a bathroom vent fan and it seems to work pretty good. The thing we really lack is an good anvil. We have a small cast hobby anvil, a 8" piece of rail, and a chunk of steel that looks like this 2fd3adb0-fb59-4e53-a68e-01059dae2c1e.jpg its about 10"x6" maybe +/-20lbs. It has a hole in it and it works ok I just havent taken the time to mount it right, I just have it wedged on a 2x6. I have no idea what its original purpose was.

 

Anyway, all that to get to my question. I bought a 2x9x24 slab plate steel drop with the intentions of just standing it up lengthwise and using the 2x9 surface(I'll make a base out of wood) untill we can get something better. But after more research I wonder if I should cut in two and make somthing like this 1c23e799-063b-4260-afdf-172e72e6d9f1.jpg with a 1" plate sandwiched and gapped for hardy hole?

The other option is to make one of the striking anvil (Brain Brazeal style?) like I have just learned about.

I just wanted get some educated opinions about what we might be better off doing with what we've got and how hard it would be to fabricate.

Thanks for ya'lls time.

 

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weld a piece of sq structural steel tubing on the end for a hardy and use the whole solid chunk!  You can build off set hardy tooling to rest on the solid piece if you feel like you need too.

 

turn the half round over so you can use the curved side for drawing.

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Hey thanks for the quick reply.  I like the idea about welding the structural steel for the hardy hole. I was set on using the 2x9 end for my striking surface then I started to second guess that after looking around some more. We'll probably start using it that way and see how it does, that would be the quickest option too. Now I just have to engineer a stand that will hold that monstrosity up!

thanks

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I have a piece of 2" plate that I use for an anvil and it works great, 110 lb's all under the working surface. I took a log and cut a notch in it just a little over 2" wide and made wedges out of some 3/8" rod. I stand the plate on end in the notch and drive in the wedges to hold it in place. It never moves.

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Another idea would be to weld on some legs with pre-drilled holes and lag it to a stump.  After that weld that half round to it.

A solution for Hardie tools may be made fairly simple by the curve on your "horn".  Find some hardenable stock that's about 1.5 to 2 times the thickness of that hole and cut it into about 3 or 4 inch lumps.  Forge a tenon to the size of that hole and about 1.5" to 2" long, heat it all, and upset down into the hole.  It seems like if the tenon is fairly even and close fitting enough so that it doesn't rattle, the tool should sit over the "horn" like a saddle and not jump around alot. I would try it first with just the lump though, before I did all that welding.

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What has worked best for me when making tools is to first understand what I really need in order to do the intended work. In the case of a forming block or what some call dies (which is all an anvil really is) my understanding that the over simplified version of what I need is appropriately shaped backing to maximize impact force and  solid support that reaches from the point of impact(the work) to solid ground or the floor.
    Many people put on blinders by using only existing solutions as their reference points for what they intend to do. Unless you already have tooling (like hardy tools) that fit a conventional anvil why slave yourself to the idea that you absolutely must make an anvil shaped object or something that replicates a section of an anvil in order to do work?
  When was the last time you saw an anvil being used as a lower die for a power hammer? Power hammers  hit harder and do far more work in a day than any human can. If you intend to make something I`d personally go with something based on the lower section of a power hammer. If nothing else something more adaptable like this would allow you to change out and yet securely hold dies that better fit the work while retaining your more versatile heavy supporting base. One of the other things I like about tooling designed to fit a power hammer is that it is usually secured with a  simple bolt/socket combination welded to the side of the die holder rather than incorporated into the body of the die and allowed to dance around like a hardy will do in a well worn hole. If the bolt/socket becomes worn or damaged it`s far easier to repair or replace than a conventional hardy hole.
    The saying; "think outside the box" has been tossed around a lot recently. I try to begin by gaining a true understanding of what I really need in order to accomplish my goal while forgetting "the box" entirely for a moment. I find that when I do this I`m open to considering the idea that a barrel, bag or even a hole in the ground may better fit my needs at the moment and let me get on with things.

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Just a quibble, any one with a Blacker powerhammer will see an anvil used as the bottom die anytime they go by it.  (My main shop anvil was such an anvil!)  But this is more the exception that proves the rule and shows that the makers of the Blacker were not constrained by the scads of other powerhammer designs that *don't* use an anvil for the bottom die.

 

It's rather funny that if you look all around the world over the past 3000 years or so you find that the London pattern anvil is the least used design for an anvil; yet so many people, predominantly in the USA, are hung up that it's the *only* design.

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...
  When was the last time you saw an anvil being used as a lower die for a power hammer? Power hammers  hit harder and do far more work in a day than any human can. If you intend to make something I`d personally go with something based on the lower section of a power hammer. If nothing else something more adaptable like this would allow you to change out and yet securely hold dies that better fit the work while retaining your more versatile heavy supporting base. One of the other things I like about tooling designed to fit a power hammer is that it is usually secured with a  simple bolt/socket combination welded to the side of the die holder rather than incorporated into the body of the die and allowed to dance around like a hardy will do in a well worn hole. If the bolt/socket becomes worn or damaged it`s far easier to repair or replace than a conventional hardy hole.
  ...

 

I get your point. But I am not familiar at all with power hammers. Are you suggesting something along the lines of what was mentioned in this >post by macbruce? Cut it and "laminate" into more of a pillar? I 'm not familar with the "simple bolt/socket combination" either I will research it.

 

I appreciate the replies. I need to post a pic of actual slab, maybe I can tonight. Its actually about 28" long but it has 2 rectangluar cutouts toward one end about 2x4 each, with a fine zig zag starter cut if you will, from the edge to get to them. I wonder if thats an issue and if I should cut it off square? It would still be plenty heavy, and I could use the drop to fashion a horn if I wanted too.

 

I had acutally thought about looking for an old rail road spike sledge hammer and cutting it in half to use as a horn on either side with a hardy hole through the handle hole.

 

I think I will stand it up this weekend and see how it works the way it is. I'll have to smooth it out a little and dull the edges some, but I'm looking forward to it.

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do either of those cut outs leave a piece sticking up that you could modify to slip a RR spike driver head over and rivet it in place as your horn?

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keep an edge sharp and on the others do a radius of increasing size to give you a choice of radii, make them smaller than you think because it is easy to take a little more off than put it back

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Yet about a 100 to 200 years ago the ads show a large number of "non-london patterns" as being currently made and available.

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I went out and got a pic of it, cropped it to the cutouts:

anvilslabcutouts.jpg

 

It weighs about 129lbs. Funny story about the cutouts, when I paid for it I didn't know it had them nether did the seller, it was on the bottom of a stack. The guy felt bad about it and gave me a dozen 3/4 x 4' round stock, about a 20" piece of I beam and 2' of 4" angle iron. Lesson learned but at least we got some stuff to beat on.

 

I wasn't concerned about it and was just going to put that end down. This may sound stupid, but then I got to thinking if that fine zig zag cut would have some adverse affect when striking. I wouldn't think so but then you read things about "harmonics" and such so I don't know.  But if I can use this shape in some way that would be cool too. What do yall think?

 

I like Jerome's idea of the "saddle" style hardy tools for that half round too.

 

And thanks for putting up with such a lame post. I'm just trying to avoid spinning our wheels as much as we can so we can start making stuff .

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks, but don't get your hopes up too much, I could be completely wrong and the tool might bounce around like a 5 year old at a boring movie.  I'm just saying to try the cheaper option before wasting your time welding a hardie hole that won't work for so well for face based hardie tools (like swages, bolsters, headers, etc.), or wasting your money by taking that piece to a machine shop and having the hole broached to 1" square.

  I will say though, the wider the shoulder, and less sloppy the tenon, the better it should work.  Also, be careful not to make the tenon so big that it gets stuck, or it'll probably break off at that upset shoulder and be wedged in there for good, especially if the tool is hardened.

  Another odd idea, you could try a notch in the face about 1" square by 2" across and about 5" or 6" back and then weld on a saddle (full penetrations with 1/2" to 1" plate with a 1" key to that half-round.  The idea is that the saddle would keep it from moving side to side, and the key would keep it from sliding forward and back.  This would also make it so that all of the weight of the half-round and the plate would be directly under your hammer blow for drawing.  Your standard anvil (double or single horn) does not have this feature in its horn, although they do have the various ovoid cross-sections useful in making scrolls, where you really don't need mass.  An added bonus, you can remove your "horn" and maybe even make an interchangeable one if you ever find a machined cone or taper

  As to that cut, with all those perfect sharp corners, it looks like it was made using either a burn table, or a plasma CAM system.  An idea for that is maybe you could weld along that little maze-looking cut leading to the cutouts to make it a little more solid, cut that "wall" down, cut and dress out a 1" hole, and BAM, hardie hole w/ "heel".  Those perfect right angle cuts make me worry though, they might want to start cracking if you use it like that.  I would weld in a little radius on the inside corners of that hole, and grind a smooth rounded bevel all around the inside and edges of those holes before beating in that general area.

  Be mindful, I have a tendency to overengineer stuff, but I usually use 90% of the odd stuff I throw into the design.

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Well I installed my "anvil" in its stand this weekend.

anvilsetup.jpg

I removed my rr track and hobby anvil from the old weight bench that I had them mounted too and the 2x9.5x28 plate slid down in it perfectly. I braced it with a couple of 1x4's and it is firmly on the ground, maybe a little bit "in" the ground. I made a post to mount the half round to. I think I need shorten it to use as a hardy. This gives it a very stable platform and its all recycled stuff.

The plate has a real nice ring to it and I knocked the edges down a bit with a polishing wheel on an angle grinder.  I started on a pair of tongs and the difference is night and day from hitting on my older stuff, completely solid. Not bad for around 60 bucks IMHO. I have to smooth it out a little more but its ready to work. I'll have to get a pic of our forge next.

 

thanks for all the advice. if we make anything cool I'll post it.

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I'd make a base for the larger section. something to spread the weight and impact out on the ground. maybe a section of 3/4" plywood with a box for the plate to sit in. It will keep you from beating the plate into the ground over time. and give you that much more solid of a hit.

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Looks like a fine set up.  Like TH82 mentioned, a board or something under the anvil so it doesn't slowly sink into the ground would be prudent.  

 

I wouldn't change a thing on the anvil.  It's a solid chunk that gives you good performance.  As you learn more about smithing, you'll see that you don't need a horn to make a nice curve, or a hardy hole for tooling.  And, soon enough, you'll run into an anvil for sale at a good price and add it to the stable.....

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Well due to the "polar vortex/global warming" and other obligations I haven't had much time to do any forging but I thought I would just post an update on my homemade anvil for posterity if nothing else.

 

I started out wanting to find a good stump to set my anvil/slab down in for a better base but ended up with a entirely different product. I was just looking at the slab and started to wonder if I were to cut it square what could I do with pieces to make it a little better. Well this is what I came up with.

 

First we cut it square where the cutouts were:

cuttingTorch.jpg

 

My vision was to weld the wider 3" piece (top left in the above pic) to the top of the slab to give myself a little wider of a striking surface. When the pieces fell it became apparent on how I needed to do this. Then I really lucked up and my bro in-law was going to have a piece of scrap from a hay fork extension job that he had to do. I was literally just about to try to torch cut about 3" of steel to get a tapered end off of some really heavy piece of an old tractor steering mechanism (yeah I have no idea what its called) when he showed up with the hay fork. Anyway this is what I got.

 

top.jpg

side2.jpgside1.jpg

 

I put good bevels on the edges before we welded it and all the welds are solid. She aint pretty but I think this will work out good for hobby needs. It pretty much has a 3/4" x 1" hardy built in from the way that it had been cut before I got it which came out pretty good for me. And I left the 2 extensions hanging off the sides to see if they will be of any use. I figured if they get in the way or I don't want them I can always cut them off, already came in handy for a small welding job I had. I have an ancient 6x6 solid fat lighter beam out of an old house that I am going to try to fabricate a base out of unless I come up with something else.

 

Anyway, that is all.

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Looks good. Out of curiosity, have you done a ball-bearing test to check the rebound? if so, what was it. If not, will you and let us know the result?

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 I haven't done the ball-bearing test, but I will. Would an old mouse ball with the covering removed be sufficient to use? Not sure what they are made of but its about .75" dia and magnetic.

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A ball bearing test calls for a 1" stainless steel ball bearing. I'm not sure how much, but changing the type of metal and size would yield a different rebound.

-Crazy Ivan

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Any hardened steel bearing will work whatever the size though larger ,within reason, is easier to gauge the rebound. No, the mouse toy ball won't do you any good, magnets are usually rubber with magnet juice in them. (By "magnet juice" I'm referring to whatever they suspend in the rubber to make it magnetic. Don't take me so literally eh?)

 

I suppose if you had some controls (steel or anvils of known hardness) to practice on you might be able to use bronze bearings or such. Better than going to all that work just take a small ball pein hammer with and give it a tap. You'll still need a little practice to get good at gauging anvils but if you take a bearing too it's easy to compare. I keep both in the pickup just in case.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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