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Railroad Track Anvil Improvements?

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I got 12" of railroad track given to me as a gift, and I intend to make it into an anvil.

Now, before y'all start cringing, I understand that RR Track is not the ideal anvil material. But I'm trying to start blacksmithing as part of a project for school, and I want to be show that you don't have to drop hundreds of dollars on an actual London Pattern anvil.

That being said, I want to make this piece of rail as useful as possible. I've seen several drawings of RR anvils that are turned on their end; which I don't think is for me. Being very inexperienced at smithing, I'd rather not limit myself to such a small 'whacking surface' like the ones shown  Link removed


So, in discussion with my shop teacher, I've been looking into welding a piece of steel onto the face of the track, which I have already flattened. This would allow for a stronger piece of steel to become the main surface of my anvil, and also creates a table. See the (badly rendered and not perfectly accurate) image below for what I mean.


First- is this a good idea? 

And if so, what kind of steel should I use? I don't know a ton about metallurgy, and there are a lot of big terms out there like Rockwell C, air-hardening, and other stuff... too complicated for me.
Should I use tool steel? If so, will A2 will be sufficient, or should I put out the extra money to get a piece of A500 Steel?

Any other suggestions are welcomed.

Anvil fire does not allow hot linking to it's site

Edited by Dale Russell
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You'd be better off not wasting time and resources welding a face and carving a horn out of a rail. Use it as it is and you'll get plenty of use from it. The face of the rail is gonna be work hardened and provides a good long surface but you'll get more rebound if you mount it upright and place your workpiece on the small head of the rail. If you need a horn for fullering turn the rail on its side and use it that way. I don't have the link handy but if you do a search there's a topic here that Charles Stephens started where he improved a piece of rail. I started with a piece of 16" long rail and learned quickly to control the hammer enough to use the small end. I still have my rails and still use them as stages now.

another thing, the images on anvilfire are copywritten. I'd hate to see you get into trouble just for showin what you're referring to. 

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2 minutes ago, Michael Cochran said:

... mount it upright and place your workpiece on the small head of the rail. If you need a horn for fullering turn the rail on its side and use it that way ...

What's a good way to secure it in a vertical position that would still allow it to be turned on its side?

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I drilled a couple holes in the bottom flange for 3" lag screws and carved a small hole in a 6"x6" to hold the bottom. If I needed to turn it I used the time it took for my steel to heat up to undo the screws. I got to where I did that less and less as I learned to use the edges on the end. It also helped that I had a piece of rail about 4" long I could use as well.

If you do a few web searches you'll find videos of smiths in other countries using rocks or sledge hammer heads as anvils. There are also anvils that are nothing more than a simple square block of steel.

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If you want to gussy up a chunk of rail for an anvil; run ILL "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Weygers.  He has an entire chapter on modifying rail for anvils.

One of the issues with welding on a face plate is that it needs to be a complete penetration weld---not a speck of space where the two pieces are not welded together and as the rail and face will both be high carbon steel they will need to be preheated and post heated making for a much more difficult process.

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