Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Recommended Posts

I was recently perusing my 14th edition copy of Machinery's Handbook (dated 1953) and came across the following quote in the chapter on mounting anvils (when discussing mounting anvils on cast iron or hardwood stands):

"An anvil should not be strapped rigidly to its foundation, as this checks the vibration which tends to keep the face free from scales, and renders a high-grade wrought-iron anvil little better than one made of cast iron.  When a wooden block is used under the anvil, it is necessary to drive in a few spikes to keep the anvil in place, but these should be so placed that they do not bear upon or bind against the corners"

Thought that was interesting as it pretty much goes directly against conventional modern wisdom regarding anvil mounting on stands.  Of course they also advocate getting an anvil of 300# for machine blacksmithing "if of this weight or heavier, it will not move around while in use or need to be strapped to its block".  I guess if you are lucky enough to have a shop anvil of that kind of weight you are all set.

Lots of good stuff in this book, still being published in it's 30th edition.   You can freely download a copy an older version than I have in hardcover (1914 edition) from Google Books here: http://www.woodworkslibrary.com/repository/machinery_handbook_for_machine_shop_and_drafting_room_1914.pdf  which has the same section as well as info on making tongs, heat treating...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

I much prefer to keep my hearing than the scale off the anvil ... assuming the ringing sweeps the scales off the anvil which is news to me :)

I bolted down my anvil with 5/8 bolts just in case. 

image.thumb.png.7181c7e28808c6ddb46650b2038dbc7a.png

 

Stand is 5"x2.5"x1/4" RHS welded at 12 degree angle filled with sand and oil. Base plate is 1" Bolts are 5/8" x 4", plate for the bolts is 2"x1/2"

The anvil sounds as if it was made of concrete. No vibration whatsoever. I do keep a brush nearby though :P

Link to post
Share on other sites

My anvils aren't held fast, they're in a flange up angle iron frame, the hammer and tong racks are about all that wedge them in place. They're reasonably quiet for a Soderfors and a Trenton and vibrate some. I WISH the scale vibrated off! If I forget and use my ungloved hammer hand to brush it off I get reminded how much black hot scale smarts when it sticks to your skin like a steak in a dry skillet.

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

I just swipe the scale off with my hand as I set the hammer down.

Yes, and one must keep the rhythm going ... one sweep one stroke, one sweep ... wait a moment what about the hot iron? 

Mm ... there goes your theory. I suppose I could build a pipe with a row of holes in it connected to my compressor and a pedal. Each time I lift the hammer I press the pedal and the air goes wosh and cleans the anvil. Genius! :P

Link to post
Share on other sites

Marc, you might really be on to something there. I occasionally find myself wanting to remove scale from the anvil while I’m actually hammering on something that’s small or delicate that I don’t want to brush. Could be worth experimenting with at some point. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have also read this passage and gave it some thought and experiment. I tried it and found no real migration of scale. Only thing I did not try was heavy striking, and I think that is were this would actually have some benefit. English pattern anvils are pretty much tuning forks, and the harder you hit them the more they vibrate.I think anvils have it pretty easy compared to the old days . Now days we use a 2 pound hammer on a 300 pound anvil etc. I suspect this is why the scale did not migrate much when I tried it. My "test" was with 300 and 500 pound forged steel anvils but only with 4 pound or lighter hammer. On a related note, I use a blacker in my shop. The anvil is cast and has no ring, just a dull thud. I have found if I have the power turned up much and its not tightly clamped at the base, it will jump if forging in the center, and rock if using the hardy tools. Makes the scales move around for sure, although its concerning to see a 500 pound anvil bouncing off its base!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a good illustration of a writer passing on "knowledge" about something they know nothing about.  I've worked on a lot of light anvils that had plenty of vibration in them.... and never saw that the vibration kept the scale from building up on the face.  

As noisy as a wrought iron anvil is, I want mine bedded in silicone caulk to deaden the sound.  No way I'm working on one that's ringing like a church bell!

Thankfully, those days are long gone as I'm the proud owner of a 300# Fisher anvil and get to work in true bliss!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2017 at 6:38 PM, Latticino said:

"An anvil should not be strapped rigidly to its foundation, as this checks the vibration which tends to keep the face free from scales, and renders a high-grade wrought-iron anvil little better than one made of cast iron.

That's just goofy.

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

I just swipe the scale off with my hand as I set the hammer down.

If you use your hand, you run the risk of embedding metal into the hand.  Always, if you insist using your hand, use the back of the hand. That way if you embed metal into the hand, you can still hold the hammer and tooling. If embedded into the palm, your day is over.

This is one reason you see smiths like Bruce Wilcox and others use the corner of their apron to clean the scale from the face of the anvil.

The compressed air is used on large (think tons) production forges. You need to be careful of where you are blowing the debris and how much dust, debris is getting into the air, and settling all over the shop.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2017 at 9:38 PM, Latticino said:

Mounting anvils from the 14th edition copy of Machinery's Handbook (dated 1953)

This was dated 1953 and based on information, practices and procedures used at that time, 65 years ago.  

The size stock and products they produced were much different from what is being used and produced by most blacksmiths today. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I read some place that they also angled the anvils away from them slightly so the scale would slide off.  Never seen an old picture that showed an angled anvil.  I'd rather have the face of the anvil as level as can be and the anvil secured down tightly.  Like Marc1  said, I'd rather have my hearing than than hope that vibration takes off the scale.  I wear weight lifter gloves that are leather but have the fingers exposed so it's really easy to swipe off the scale with the covered palm of my hand.

Link to post
Share on other sites

add to this most forged anvils are not all that level to start with, we might be on to something! :D A little vibration and that scale just slides right off! To make it go farther down the rabbit hole, did they make them crooked to facilitate the scale sliding off or...was it the loose tolerance of steam hammers and eyeball measurements. The world may never know.......

Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the guys in our club talks about mounting his anvil so it leans away from him and cites an old book, maybe Machinery's handbook I don't recall. His reasoning is to limit the amount of elbow and shoulder damage you do yourself by making the face more perpendicular to your swing. His right arm is pretty much shot from the wrist to his spine. I've watched him for years and were we not friends I'd use him as an example of how NOT TO SWING a hammer! It's like he's trying to punch the anvil as hard as he can.

To add insult to a lifetime worth of injury he still has to wipe scale off his anvil.

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, MC Hammer said:

I read some place that they also angled the anvils away from them slightly so the scale would slide off.  Never seen an old picture that showed an angled anvil.  I'd rather have the face of the anvil as level as can be and the anvil secured down tightly.  Like Marc1  said, I'd rather have my hearing than than hope that vibration takes off the scale.  I wear weight lifter gloves that are leather but have the fingers exposed so it's really easy to swipe off the scale with the covered palm of my hand.

I also use fingerless gloves permanently for all metalwork. When welding the left glove stays on and I have the big leader glove on top. It's perfect for the hammer hand and has saved me countless injuries. I had trouble finding fingerless gloves that could withstand actual work. Most are just for looks, to drive a motorcicle or show off in general with holes an studs and rivets and leather so thin that it ripps off the first time you take them off. Finally I found a supplier that sells them as wheelchair gloves. They go the distance for me anyway. 

As for the hope of the scale coming off the anvil with vibration, and to say that a well anchored steel anvil becomes "little better than a cast iron anvil"  ...  that comment can only come from someone who has never worked in a smithy. For an anvil to shake off the scale by vibrating, it will have to be set at 30 degrees and it will struggle even then. Technical commentators did write with poetic license even in the olden days. 

I remember a famous post WW2 spanish author of automotive and motorcycles DIY mechanic, currently in its 33 edition, to say that it was very important to wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and that such helmet was no problem since it could be disguised with an appropriate hat. Err ... coff, coff. :P

Link to post
Share on other sites

The fingerless gloves have also saved me from incidental burns - a lot of stupid brush against type of burns.  I have to agree with the guys who say full on gloves can sometimes make a guy a little careless around their hot steel, especially black hot steel, but I find the fingerless gloves eliminate any temptation to handle hot steel with the hands yet still cover me for the dumb luck stuff.  I'll keep in mind about the wheel chair gloves.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While not suggesting that anyone could be slow of wit as I "once" was, I offer the following Cautionary Anecdote:

Long ago, I was cutting apart a car with an Oxy-Fuel rig, and set the rubber door seal alight.

I set about to pat out the fire with my FINGERLESS gloves and drew back four flaming, gooey fingers.

I am not as foolish and inattentive as I used to be, but just as clumsy.:blink:

Robert Taylor

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Sticky" and "Hot"---a very bad combination; as many of us still remember: "napalm sticks to kids..."

I use a brush, hand, rag, or just lean over and blow the scale off---of course I try to produce little scale in the first place, an old habit of bladesmithing days... Forced air I would not suggest as the possible eye involvement would be unpleasant.

I too have a Blacker anvil I use as my main shop anvil and thought I wouldn't need to fasten it in place and it pretty much was so until I was doing some heavy sledging on it and saw it was creeping on the stand.  So I used a handful of wire fence staples to "corral" it. Used it last week helping a new smith work on a bearded hatchet from a large ball peen.  Used the horn to support and create a smooth top curve while we fullered the "bottom" with various sized rounds to create the profile he wanted.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...