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Surprise Anvil

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My birthday is next week, and apparently my wife has taken notice of me constantly searching classifieds for anvils and debating aloud with myself if I should keep waiting for a used anvil or just buy a new farriers anvil to have something a little better than what I have. I came home tonight to find sitting in my driveway a brand new Rigid Peddinghaus anvil. It's the 165 lb (75kg) model. It's a far nicer anvil than anything I would have considered buying for myself. My wife had apparently struck up an email conversation with the folks at Ken's Iron who she knew I had recently purchased a bunch of tongs kits from. They guided her through all the options and in and outs of buying an anvil. Pretty cool considering they don't themselves actually sell anvils. Needless to say my wife is obviously too good for me.

Any care and feeding advice for a new anvil? I had read a bunch about radiusing edges on old anvils to cover up chips and what not. Is this something that should be done to a new anvil proactively, or should I leave it as is? The edges currently have what appears to be a 45 degree straight chamfer. I also need to figure out a proper stand. My couple of strapped together 4x4s my current railroad track anvil is sitting on aren't going to cut it ;) One of the things I'm most excited about is having a hardy hole. Picking the first hardy tool to attempt to fashion for it is going to be a hard choice. I'm leaning towards spring fuller. I feel like I'm going from a tricycle to a Jaguar. So many new things to figure out. I'm super excited. I just hope I can drive this new beauty without crashing it!




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Do not do anything to modify the anvil until you know why and how to properly do the modification. If you want a radius edge, weld a hardie post to a piece of plate that covers the anvil face and radius the plate. If you screw up a radius, make another plate. 

You can not know which modification works best until you use it for a while. A year from now you may not be making widgets any more, so your widget modification is still there but unused. If it is a hardie tool modification, put it off to the side and wait for the next order of widgets. If you modified the anvil, it then becomes a widget making anvil.

Once you modify your anvil there is no undo button.


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As for the edges, just give them a quick hit with some sandpaper to smooth the very sharpest part of the edge. Just enough to soften it, not enough to change the profile substantially. Otherwise, leave it alone for the time being; Glenn's advice is good.

Regarding what hardy tool to make first, go for a hot cut. Makes everything else possible. Spring fuller second.

I'm a recent convert to the all-metal stand with a layer of silicone caulk between the anvil and the stand. Strong, solid, and quiet.

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Thanks guys. I'm really happy the advise is NOT to radius the edges. I was very nervous that it would be one of those things a new owner was expected to know how to do and I'd ruin the anvil in the process. Just lightly sanding the absolute sharpness off is something I should be able to approach without feeling like I'm on the edge of a cardiac trauma event.

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SWEET SCORE in wives! Way to go Lanternate! I just ditto the above advice, soften any sharp edges with a little sand paper or a draw file if called for and that beauty is ready to rumble. The first bottom tool I'd make is a hot hardy or maybe a cutting plate saddle. A saddle plate has ends or sides that wrap over the edges of the anvil's face plate to hold it in place.

Just a piece of MILD steel plate to lay on the anvil as a backer works just fine but isn't as stable as a saddle. Processes that involve hammering  something sharp, pointy, pokey and or hard through the work is a process that can damage the tool or anvil's face. Putting a sacrificial something between the anvil and tool saves both from damage and extends their life. A "Bolster" is a plate with holes in it to support the work while punching holes and is another bit of protection for your tools, anvils and in this case the work. The less you have to straighten the work the easier it is to make it come out right. The "Pritchel" hole in your anvil is a bolster for punching but one size does NOT fit all.  

Another example of handy bottom tools is a radius plate. Just a piece of fairly thick plate, 3/4" is nice but 1/2" will do and 1" is sweet. You can grind a different radius on each side for different things or round the corners, grind V or round swages or whatever. Shouldering tongs between reins, boss and bits is important to making strong durable tongs and if you have a bolster in the exact right place it makes tongs easier and faster to make and get as close to perfect as necessary.

Making tools to do what you need to do, especially for repeated jobs is a hallmark of the blacksmith and why you see so many, "what the HECK is that for?" tools on a blacksmith's table, near the anvil or vise. Historical displays are often just piled with custom made dies, jigs, tools, etc. 

Well, I've probably gotten carried away enough for now. You're living the life Brother, carry on. B)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I'd opine that bringing grinders near anvils is almost as terrible a sin as bringing cutting torches within 300'.

Reason we see so many anvils with rounded portions is because it helped to make a gentler bend on wrought iron minimizing damage to it's fibrous structure. I'm seeing a growing number of newer smiths thinking they need that for some reason. They don't. It's unnecessary. Until we get fibrous wrought iron to work with again just leave your anvil's edges alone.

Oh my......I'm starting to sound like one of the curmudgeons!:o:o:o


I'd tend to agree about your wife though, she sounds like a keeper. If she likes class 3 weapons keep her hidden:D

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That is a sweet anvil and an even sweeter wife!

I'm going to go against the above advise here and recommend putting a small radius on those sharp corners.  It's not just wrought iron that hates sharp corners, steel hates a sharp corner too.    A perfectly square inside corner will  start a crack in steel.  An inside corner with a small radius subjected to stress will crack sooner rather than later.  A large radius will crack later rather than sooner.  The sharper anvil edge will be more likely to peel off or smoosh a sliver of the work piece's shoulder, leading to a cold shut, which is a blacksmith's term for a mechanically caused inclusion and will lead to a stress riser, which will lead to a crack.  All of the old blacksmithing text books and most of the new ones cover proper radii for anvils.  This is also covered in chapter one of most modern high tech closed die forging texts.  Every professional modern ornamental smith's anvil I've ever seen has a variety of radii on their anvils, and on power hammer dies, and on swages, fullers, power hammer tools, etc etc.

Mildly rounded corners also help protect the anvil from chipping if (when) you miss a blow.  They also give a clean, finished appearance to your work, not that chopped up look you get from repeatedly trying to set a shoulder on a sharp edge.  

You can read between the lines of the general guidelines and figure out what radius works for the size of work you do and the size of shoulder you put into you work pieces.  As to one or both sides I find that in architectural metalwork there are a lot of double shoulders in the same piece so it is more efficient to have the same radius on both sides of the anvil.  YMMV.

Drop me a PM sometime for directions and come on down to my shop, I'll show you the radii I ground onto my also purchased new anvil.  


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Lanternnate - regards and congratulations on your life partnership.

Mrs. Taylor was so enthusiastic about my quest for a dream anvil, that when I finally realized that it was OK to make the "huge" investment after two disastrous waffle-failures, I hit it big on my dream anvil.

Now I only have a fever for "free" anvils.

Oh, and nice anvil you have there, besides.

Robert Taylor

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I guess if it is time to chime in regarding rounding edges, the anvil came as you stated with a ground bevel on the edges. I had a new anvil come that way about 30 years ago, this will safe the edges somewhat from chipping. It will also act as a somewhat as a rounded edge. I have done a fair amount of grinding on my anvils, some has paid off well, one bit was a mistake, remember it is a tool modify it if it is a good modification, but as Glenn said be sure it is  a modification you expect to need long term. I would use it as it is for a year or so then go slow on those permanent changes.

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