Obert

Restoring an austrian style anvil

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Hello. I am new to this community as well as to blacksmithing. This is my first post as I would need some advice from you guys. So after a long search I purchased a used 50kg (110 lbs) Austrian style anvil. The price was relatively cheap and the anvil wasn't in a horrible shape. I believe it is a cast steel anvil, it has a beautiful ring to it and the rebound is also excellent ( over 90%; tested with a ball bearing). The face is hardened but its not extremely hard. A file cuts it. The anvil had a lot of dings and cuts also the edges were slightly mushroomed, the very tip of the horn is also missing ( 20mm or so; less than an inch). With that said I am sure the anvil was perfectly usable as it was, but... I wanted, what any real man wants, to be able to forge an axe on the anvil and then shave my face with it while monitoring the procedure in the anvils mirror like surface. Kidding obviously, but I do want my anvil to have a nice flat and smooth face with crisp edges. I achieved that already by grinding off around 2-3mm of the original surface which left me with a few imperfections in the form of low spots around the hardy hole and on the edges. To take those out I would have to grind the surface down another 2mm. So I decided to just weld those areas. I welded it with tig adding vac60 1mm filler metal (ordinary mag wire that I get for free). The welding went smooth with no issues whatsoever. I didn't preheat since it was really only minor welding. And I did the welding hot and fast with lay wire technique so as to minimize the heat input. Then I ground the welds flush with the surface. 

The next thing I want to do now is to rebuild (and reshape) the tip of the horn and this is where I would need your advice, since filler material choice is more critical here than in the minor welding I did on the face. Its less then an inch (20mm) in length but considering the volume its a bit to much for tig welding. So I would like to use stick but cannot decide on the appropriate electrode. The selection of electrodes is mind boggling. I am leaning towards the type of electrode that is used for railroads, hammers, crushers, etc. designed to withstand severe impact and pressure, it also work hardens. It is a manganese chromium alloy electrode ( E Mn14Cr4) that is supposed to work on manganese and carbon steels. Would this be a good choice in your opinion? What do you recommend? What ever I will end up using I will test it first on the corner of one of the anvils legs which is a bit mangled and needs some purely cosmetic work. 

The issue here is also that I do not know the type of steel the anvil is made of. I am certain that it is cast steel though and not cast iron. Like I said, with tig and on a ground clean surface it welds with no problems. No porosity, no cracking. But I was welding only very small portions, volume vise much less than a cubic cm.

The sparks the Anvil throws when grinding with a flap disc are very similar (dare I say identical) to the sparks from a piece of railroad track I have, and that is suppose to be manganese steel. For welding up the horn I intend to do the preheat and all. But like I said I am unsure of the electrode that would be best suited for the job. Your thoughts, opinions, suggestions... are very appreciated. Since I have put a lot of work already into this anvil and I am very pleased with the results so far I would really hate to xxxx it up now. Although I realize many would consider the work I have done to the anvil redundant and even damaging (it was perfectly useable as it was), since I ground of most of the hardened surface, yikes. But I enjoy restoring things to the very best of my abilities and gaining new knowledge and skills as I go along. So for now this restoration is my main goal with actual blacksmithing somewhere in the distant future, since I have a lot to do prior to hammering red hot steel, like building a gas furnace and stuff. With that said, for the final step I also intend to heat treat and reharden the anvil surface and I will be asking for your advice on that topic as well, but that's for another day. Thank you for now and cheers!

Edited by Mod34
Edited for inappropriate language

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You took 2-3mm off the face? Gasp. Welded with soft wire around the hardy? And now want to "rebuild" the tip of the horn  ... needle sharp no doubt?

This can't be real. 

 

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OK, let's get some stuff straight. Number one, you have broken the forum language rules (that you agreed to when you joined) in a major way. Second, it sounds like you have taken a perfectly good anvil and ruined it. Welding and grinding are the two fastest ways to boch a good anvil. Typical newbie mistake, but a BIG mistake nonetheless. can you post a few pics of the anvil? If we can see your situation we may be able to help with damage control, so to speak.

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What Dave said..... And this is only the first hour.

                                                                                     Littleblacksmith 

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If this is indeed a cast steel anvil, then it's not quite as bad as if you'd taken 2-3 mm off of the steel plate of a wrought iron anvil. You've still reduced the thickness of the hardened work face, but there isn't any increased risk of delamination.

Smooth faces are great, but not absolutely necessary. Crisp edges aren't particularly important, and sharp edges are actually bad. The best way to smooth out an anvil face is to pound hot steel on it: the hot metal and fire scale have an abrasive effect that cleans things up nicely. Don't do any more welding and grinding on the surface. 

Don't do any work on the tip of the horn. Anything you do is likely to make things worse: chances are good that you've already spoiled the heat treatment of the face, and preheating and significant welding will just make it worse. If you need a thin horn to work small curves, make yourself a bick (or bickern): basically a miniature horn that fits in the hardy hole. A sharp point is actually a bad thing on an anvil horn. Don't ask me how I know this; you'll know for yourself the first time you bump into it.

In short: grinding is bad for anvils almost all the time. Welding is also bad for anvils. Don't do any more of either. You may have shortened the life of the anvil and significantly degraded its quality, but you will probably still be able to forge on it.

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1 hour ago, Obert said:

Hello. I am new to this community as well as to blacksmithing. This is my first post as I would need some advice from you guys.

Well, the best advice would have been to read back over all the posts in this forum dealing with what NOT to do to an anvil. Had you done so, you would certainly not have taken the action you did. I'm waiting for the replies from Frosty or Thomas ... or perhaps they are too speechless to comment!

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7 minutes ago, ausfire said:

I'm waiting for the replies from Frosty

It's still an hour and a half before dawn in Alaska. Let the man enjoy his innocent slumber while he can.

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1 minute ago, JHCC said:

It's still an hour and a half before dawn in Alaska. Let the man enjoy his innocent slumber while he can.

Ha Ha. You mean Frosty actually sleeps? It's after 11 at night here so I will check in on his reply in the morning!  -_-zzzzzz

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Oooof. I hope that she's still got rebound left! When I first started looking for an anvil I did quite a bit of reading and two important answers were all over the web:

How do I repair my anvil to look like new again? Answer: dont.

What do i use to protect my anvil? Answer: hot steel and linseed oil to taste. 

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You definitely should have researched before you just went at it. Hopefully it isn't TOO badly ruined. 

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We also need to remember that anvils are just tools, and like all tools show wear, and with time eventually wear out. There are examples of many anvils over 100 years old so that wear (on some anvils) is slow. This also depends on what the anvil was used for in it's life. Heavy use is much different from light use both in the amount of hammer time and in the size of the stock being used.

Obert purchased an anvil and it is HIS anvil to do with as he wishes. A bit of research may have changed his mind about modifying the anvil. We need to provide hlinks to the reference material we have on the site to better inform everyone about modifying an anvil they have purchased.

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21 minutes ago, Glenn said:

it is HIS anvil to do with as he wishes

This is very true, and for all the talk of "ruining", it's still probably pretty functional. We're not talking china teacups here, folks.

(And I know china teacups: that's what my wife collects.)

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He took a couple of mm off, big deal....it's just a tool to be used as the owner sees fit. Oh no.... he might hit it with a hammer next!

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3 hours ago, Mtnstream said:

He took a couple of mm off, big deal....it's just a tool to be used as the owner sees fit. Oh no.... he might hit it with a hammer next!

yes, its like buying a Stradivarius ( nor sure of spelling ) and thinking the varnish looks a bit dull so taking a sander to it and putting on a nice new coat of polyurethane varnish on it

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Like Glenn said, we say "ruin" a lot when we should say "degrade". I mean, even if somebody takes ALL the temper out, it is still a usable tool. We have said it many a time ourselves: "any big chunk of steel with a flat spot works for an anvil."

 

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40 minutes ago, the iron dwarf said:

yes, its like buying a Stradivarius ( nor sure of spelling ) and thinking the varnish looks a bit dull so taking a sander to it and putting on a nice new coat of polyurethane varnish on it

Not a great analogy: mechanical sanding and polyurethane varnish would radically change the playing characteristics and possibly compromise the structural integrity of a Strad. It would certainly affect its market value as an antique, which is (let's face it) more dependent on the Stradivarius name than it is on the quality of the instrument or its sound, but most of us are looking at our anvils as tools rather than as collectibles anyway.

A better example (drawing here from my experiences in the violin repair shop) would be the guy I saw removing the top from a cello to make some repairs. We would do this all the time, and it usually involved carefully working the seam apart with a thin knife. Well, this guy (a friend of my boss, visiting for the day) just took the knife and hammered it around the edge of the instrument with a hard mallet, slicing chunks off the underside of the top and slivers off the edges of the sides. Was it ruined? No: I spent a lot of time over the next several months carefully removing those chunks and slivers and gluing them back where they belonged, and in the end, it was just fine. Not as good as it would have been if the guy hadn't gotten over-enthusiastic, but perfectly functional nonetheless.

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1 hour ago, the iron dwarf said:

yes, its like buying a Stradivarius ( nor sure of spelling ) and thinking the varnish looks a bit dull so taking a sander to it and putting on a nice new coat of polyurethane varnish on it

We are not talking about couple of hundred thousand dollars or more.  One or two thousand at the very most. I value my anvil, enjoy it, and sometimes am a little too sentimental about it. But, in the end it is just a chunk of iron that will be around and functional a lot longer than me that can easily be replaced if I want to work to get the cash. I don't understand why some folks ascribe otherworldly attributes to them. It can't feel, dosen't scream and won't cry no matter what you do to it. It hurts me more to see a couple of hundred usable anvils stacked in a "museum" just collecting dust than it does to hear about one being supposedly mistreated.

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a customer of mine bought a hardy tool from me, is was the vaughns brand and unused, he asked if he could use my grinder to reshape it, after warning him I let him, soon the sound changed and so did the sparks as the grinder bit.

he stopped and looked at it and then asked why it looked like two layers of metal so I explained again about the thin hard layer on top as I did before he started.

even if you dont go through the hard layer you can thin it so it will break up like an ice sheet, it may break the first time it is used or after a month or a year.

2mm could be 100 years of life lost, sharp edges are not desirable nor is a sharp horn and if you need any of them or a smooth face make a hardy tool,

I even sell blocks of 4140 about 4" by 4" and 2" thick as hardy tools that are smooth on top and have sharp edges but you can grind a radius as required without damaging your anvil, cost about $25 made to suit your hardy hole

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Hello. First, let me say, thank you for all the comments. They are very familiar to me and they were well expected. And even if they weren't all that helpful, they sure were amusing (this is not a sarcastic comment, just to make sure).

Secondly I would like to apologize for actually not reading the forum rules and thereby not respecting them. I will respect them in the future. But would like to state that I do not agree with the rule regarding the use of profanity. I just don't understand it, to me its not logical. But like I said I will respect the rule.

As for the anvil, its an even sadder story than you think. I actually did the research, quite an extensive one and jet I bravely grinded on. Why, this is sheer madness... I hear you say. And it cracks me up. Oh if I had a cent every time I heard that in my life. But you see my motiv here isn't purely utilitarian one. For my forging ambitions I wouldn't even need an anvil. I could do it on a pice of rail that I have. My blacksmithing ambitions are very modest and very unoriginal. I want forge a few knives and chisels out of old files I have laying around.

The thing is I want a properly shaped and functional anvil not only for practical use, and with me it wont experience a lot of use let alone a heavy one, but also because of aesthetic reasons. I just like the look of it. Jet this anvil is ruined to me unless I will be able to reharden the working surface, because I also want full functionality not just looks, which in this case are tied in to the functionality of the tool, in my opinion.

In my research regarding anvils I went to have a look at a few anvils in mint condition, knowing full well I can not afford them. I did this so I could examine them, to have a sense of what the standard or the norm is. And all of them had the form my anvil now has plus functionality by having the working face hardened. And I think such a form wasn't chosen for no good reason by the original designers of the tool and in my mind any deviation from the original form is a deviation from optimum in performance. But of course the anvil is a tool that is near impossible to destroy beyond usefulness, short of being reduced to small bits, it could be split in halve and still be useful, but that's beside the point.

In short. I want it to look a certain way not because of strict utilitarian logic, but just because... And I went into this butchering operation with the full realization of the fact that my pacient might not survive. And the most difficult part is jet to come. The hardening, if I fail here I will call this project a complete loss. But I am hoping for the best also I have also a plan b nad plan c in case the plan a fails. But even if they all fail and I end up with an oversized door stop, its still been a fun road to travel, at least for me, as this is one of my hobbies, shall we say. Don't get me wrong I'm not thrilled about failing this project but I can accept it and wont loose any sleep over it. This is one of my side projects actually, and I didn't pay a lot of money for the anvil 150 eur to be exact, I knew I was doing this even before I bought the thing. So, that's that for now. And I saved the worst for last, I added a picture of the anvil in question on the operating table with the butchers weapons of choice weighing it down during the operation itself, its horrible, if you are sensitive person I advise you to avert your gaze. Cheers!

P1010002.JPG

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What are those 3 round marks on the face?  That is a very nice anvil.

I am not sure I understand your reasoning but it does not matter, it's a bit like those who buy a 1929 Ford model A and chop it to put a V8 in it, wide tyres and lowered body. A heresy to some, an achievement to others. Actually a better simile would be to take the old Ford engine out and put a chainsaw motor in it :)

I hope you can figure out how to harden the face. May be before you try that, you can do a test. It may not need it and it may be still ok after your operation. To harden an anvil is not easy nor small job. You need a river with a boat ramp or a friendly fire fighter station to cool it fast enough.

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