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Beginner seeking advice on anvil restoration

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I'd like some opinions on a broken anvil which I plan to use as my segway into blacksmithing.  I found this anvil being used as a door-stop at an estate sale when I inquired the price I was given it for free.  I don't have any experience in blacksmithing or the tools, my metal working experience has been in a machine shop.  So far I've machined the bottom of the the anvil to allow the anvil to sit flush on the workbench without rocking. This allows me to get some use from the anvil but it still is missing the mass and stability of a proper anvil.  I'd like to create a sturdy base as close to original as possible I have a couple ideas about achieving this. I could hire a foundry to cast a base (which I have no idea the cost),  Or I could have some thick steel plate water jetted in staggered cross sections to stack on top of one another and welded to form the base. Or I could do away with trying to make the base look original and have it welded to the thickest piece of steel plate I can find. Also I kissed the face of the anvil just to see what was underneath and I'd like to machine more of the face of the anvil to lift the deep pits. Pictures are below.  What are your thoughts on all of this, what would you do with this anvil?  
Thanks for any advice
As Found:
Milling The Bottom:
Current Condition :
IMG_20160903_144456 (1).jpg

IMG_20160903_144445 (1).jpg


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Personally, I'd use it. Early Spanish anvils looked essentially like this, but with a little peg protruding from the bottom to mount onto a stump easier.

Being a Peter Wright, it has a piece of steel forge welded onto the top...That piece is not very thick. Machining it off leaves you with nothing to pound on but the SUPER SOFT wrought iron body. The face as it sits is amazingly good. The pitting will not affect your working material.

Btw anvils broken at the waist are not too uncommon....here's a pic from the 2016 ABANA conference of one guys mounting solution.


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Get off the track of  "repair" and on the track of usability.  The only value on going through all the trouble of repairing it is the joy of the job--not any increase in the value or usability of the anvil.  Many people produce exemplary work with far worse anvil solutions.

If it was mine and I had the equipment you seem to, I'd probably drill couple of roughly 1" holes in the bottom for inserting round bar stubs--and then carve a pocket in a stump or wooden build-up to cradle the remains of the anvil for use.  The stubs are just to help retard any roll or bounce in use a little better.

Once you find a good anvil, you can keep this one as a "portable hole" and useful plinking anvil for lighter work--maybe mount it on a new stand.  It might even be good as a portable anvil like the one shown above.

Don't over-think the issue.


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Welcome aboard Matt, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many IFI members live within visiting distance. You can learn more in a couple hours with an experienced smith than days or weeks on your own.

Please don't do any more damage to that old girl, she's perfectly usable as she is but removing more of the high carbon steel face will only shorten her life and reduce her utility. Think of it this way someone wanting to lose weight has muscle removed rather than fat. The steel face plate is an anvil's muscle, weight is important but not nearly as much as a hard face.

So far there have been a number of good suggestions for mounting her and putting her to work. She'll teach you much or even all of the craft while you look for one you like better. Once you find one she'll still be a truly excellent bench anvil. It's good to have an anvil mounted close to eye height for those fiddly little jobs you REALLY need to see. Most of us make do with a piece of RR rail, block of something we found, etc. sitting on a shelf under the bench. When we need it we just set it over a bench leg. That beauty will make a terrific bench anvil once you find a more intact floor anvil.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Remember too that the body is wrought iron, and it does not weld like modern steels do. 

I agree with the rest, the top is fine. Don't get hung up on the idea that an anvil has to have a polished face, and sharp edges---neither of which are needed. Radiused edges do less damage to the workpiece. 

I would just weld some tabs , or a plate, to the bottom for feet and mount it. 

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2 hours ago, Fatfudd said:

I would be concerned that the contact area between the anvil and the cement would be too small causing the cement to break down in a short period.That would be particularly true if you used the horn or tail very much.

I think I agree with Fatfudd about the possibility of eventually breaking down the concrete, probably under the outer periphery of the plate on top of the concrete.

Coincidentally, I happened to see a broken anvil a while ago at what I would call an 'itinerant flea market' that people run out of semi-truck trailers as they travel around from place to place. It was cheap, so maybe I should have bought it, but I didn't. Anyway, that got me thinking about what I might do with one, and I came up with an idea or two. If you can source some heavy plate and some rectangular tube roughly the same cross-section as the waist of the anvil, you could make a 'convertible' anvil, which could use the tube as a floor stand, or could be removed from the floor stand and bolted to a steel table top for use as a bench anvil, as Frosty has suggested. You could countersink the attachment fasteners in the plate (or just use spacers) so that you don't have to make large holes in the tabletop.

I was originally thinking that the stand would be bolted to the floor. If you wanted more mass in the stand, it could be added easily in various ways. You could leave the tube open inside for direct access to the anvil attachment fasteners to re-tighten them over time (if necessary), but as an alternative you could fill the tube with something heavy and just remove the bolts holding the plate and flange together to access the anvil attachment fasteners. You could also add adjustable feet, etc.

Just an idea...




Edited by Steamboat
Added a little more detailed information.
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Just now, Charles R. Stevens said:

Fill that with sand ad wet it with oil, lest it ring like a bell

Yes, that's a good point you make about the ringing. I just now edited the text to indicate that the tube could be filled with something heavy.

Material like sand should certainly help deaden resonant frequencies.



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2 hours ago, Thursday said:

I could leave a small gap between the top plate and the cement.  The cements purpose is just to add mass.  The anvil will be welded to the top plate which will be welded to the 2" pipe.

If the only structural support for the anvil is a single 2" (2.375") pipe placed under the center of the waist, I believe there would be a very high likelihood of structural failure due to the inability to tolerate the high leverage forces and other stresses/forces that would be applied to the pipe and its welds while using the anvil. Instead of a single narrow pipe support under the center of the waist, you should solidly support the entire perimeter of the waist all the way down to the floor.

By the way, I think you should attach one plate to the anvil and an additional plate to the top of the stand, which you can then bolt together. This will make the anvil detachable. You might want to use it as a bench anvil later after you get a better anvil or make some other change.

I looked at your engineering drawing and mock-up, but I was unable to tell how thick the metal sides of the stand would be. You should use heavy plate steel for the four sides of the stand...let's say 1/4" thick...which could be welded on (or near) the perimeter of the plate at the top of the stand. That would provide solid support all the way to the floor, and the problematic 2" pipe would not be used.

You could just fill the stand with sand...much easier than concrete. Sand should help deaden the ringing sounds.

I would think twice about welding the plate onto the anvil. Assuming that the anvil body is wrought iron, and that you take into consideration the factors that can affect welding wrought iron, you should consider that once welded on, it's hard to change to a new configuration later. You could just drill and tap four holes for four large bolts or studs, which could draw the plate tightly against the anvil body.

Here's a modified version of your idea that is stronger, eliminates the narrow 2" pipe, and allows the anvil to be removed from the stand. The four side plates should be easy to construct and weld, since all edges are straight lines.


I hope that was helpful to you.

Disclaimer: The above recommendations are my personal opinions. I am not an engineer, and any use of the information or opinions I have provided is entirely at your own risk. 



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Concrete isn't a good anvil base, the shock wave conducted through the steel will do unkind things to concrete. Sure it may take time but it'd going to pulverize eventually.

The steel box stand should be all the stand an anvil really needs. 1/4" steel plate on edge is incredibly strong. It may not have as much compressive strength as high quality concrete but that's it'll withstand impacts better because it compresses and rebounds. A little give goes a long ways. A foot connecting the bottom will prevent it splaying.

Dry sand or just plain old dirt will work better than concrete in a stand. Personally I think the only benefit of adding oil is preventing rust. That's just me though.

Steamboat's second drawing with a closed foot and filled with soil would be more than enough stand for monster work.

Frosty The Lucky.

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