lanternnate Posted December 17, 2016 Share Posted December 17, 2016 I'm still very new to this, but I am now hooked enough that I am starting to consider a legitimate anvil. I'm currently using a piece of railroad track that someone previously ground to the shape of an anvil. It only weighs about 20 lbs, and I have since learned that the piece of track would have likely been better left alone and set on end. It was a whopping $30 though and fit the bill for when I was investing the bare minimum just to figure out if this was something I would enjoy doing or not. I haven't noticed that the small size or improper configuration has held me back considerably, but I have nothing to compare to. I don't know if my projects are just so small it doesn't matter, or if life would be easier with something bigger and I just don't know it. I've tried reading all the various posts about the weight's impact on the efficiency of blows, but I sort of get the feeling it's one of those things you understand once you've used something sizable and compared. My current desire for a next level anvil isn't directly tied to more size. I'm currently very jealous of various hardy tools I've seen in the tools section, so I'd like an anvil with a hardy hole which mine does not. Also, I started out in the pursuit of bladesmithing knives, but in monkeying around with making little tomahawks I've also become intrigued with the notion of small axe making. When making the little hawks I keep wanting to be able to use the horn in ways that I've seen folks do on youtube videos to shape the blade. The horn on my current anvil was ground in to make it look like an anvil, but it isn't really usable. I'd like an anvil with some actual beef in the horn section. I've been trying to do my research by reading through stickies and lots of old posts. A common refrain is "get the heaviest one you can." What I haven't been able to discern is where you hit the limits at a given weight anvil. Whether that's size of stock that can be worked or weight of hammer it can take, and where those limits fall. I have a couple of reasons to not want just the most honking anvil possible. One is budget. This is a hobby for me, and my return on investment for at least as far as I can see in the future is smiles not dollars. This purchase needs to fall into my "I can justify this as fun" category. Second issue is I don't have an actual shop. I need something I can move in and out of cover in the back yard to actually use, at least until the point I'm into this enough that setting up a shed etc. falls into my justify for fun category. Looking around locally and semi locally for second hand options the common weight available falls into the 100-150lbs range. The asking prices start around $350 and go up from there to the grand range. Anything under $500 has some flaw from a life of use whether its chipped edges, sway, or someone has done something silly like cut across the heel with a torch. I've been researching which flaws are a bigger concern than others with the notion of trying to find one that could be haggled into the $300-$400 range and be generally worth it. In my researching around I've also found a few options for brand new anvils that could be had in the same price range. Removing the factor of my inability to judge the quality of an anvil or the level of a flaw from the equation has some appeal. Those anvils are a little lighter though, generally 70 lbs, and they all look to be designed for farriers. In reading old posts about farrier anvils I understand they aren't as ideal for general blacksmithing because of the lower weight and the thinner waist (less mass directly under the hammer). Due to my inexperience and knowing blacksmithing encompasses a lot of different size work, what I don't know is at what point would such an anvil show its limitations. There are also some bells and whistles to some of these farrier anvils that are initially appealing to me, but I'd appreciate insight from anyone more experienced if these would actually work/help as I envision. The NC anvils for example have a large 1.25" "turning hole" in the heel that seems like it would be a great place to run a punch and drift through. The Cliff Caroll anvils have a flat on one side of the horn that seems like it would be great for shaping an axe where the back side could be on the flat and the blade wrap around the curve. Various farrier anvils have little rounding knobs or other various shaped bits that look like they might be handy for shaping a beard on an axe or tweaking a tomahawk spike straight. I don't know if these things would actually help as I think, or if there are just better ways to do these things that I don't know about yet. So that's a very long winded way of asking will I hit a point where a new farrier anvil isn't up to the task and I should have gotten a "flawed" used general blacksmith anvil? For context, here is what I currently do and hope to do in the future: Currently: Railroad spike things shaped roughly like blades (small "knives" and "tomahawks") Small to Medium knives from lawnmower blades and files (6" blade range) Would like to do in the future: Slightly larger knives (things in the bowie knife range) Work up to better/slightly larger stock (coil springs, leaf springs, purchased known steel) Small axes (hatchets, camp axes) Pipe dreams (as in things I know might not be possible by a single person with hand tools or I might never be skilled enough to do): Make my own hammer Historical recreation axes A big sword! (Come on I had to say it, haha, but I know this one is unlikely to happen) One important thing I left off the would like to do list is making tools to make the rest of the list: tongs, hardy tools, drifts. PS. Sorry for the overly long post. My hope is being thorough about what exactly I'm trying to accomplish is more respectful of folks time in trying to answer rather than just saying "how big is big enough?" Here's my current little anvil bolted down to four scrap pieces of 4x4 PT I lashed together with decking screws: Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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