CaptainFish1

A Peter Wright Anvil on Craigslist

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Hi, I'm fairly new to this forum, and after browsing around, decided to make an account on account of anvils. Arguably, the most difficult part of starting out blacksmithing is finding the proper tools, but this applies especially to anvils (as I believe) as they are varied, expensive, difficult to move around, and overall requires a lot of work to acquire a good one. However, I believe I may have found something great 138 miles from me is a 219 pound Peter Wright anvil going for $700. Not exactly the best price ($3.12 a pound) but in my part of California that's pretty much the best you'll get. There are a lot of visible dings and imperfections, and I can't do anything about those because I don't own a welder, much less filler rods. The question for me right now is if I should go the distance and purchase this anvil, clean it up with an angle grinder, and simply call it a day, or should I purchase another option I've heard was good? 

Here's the pictures.

anvil 44.jpg

anvil 45.jpg

anvil 46.jpg

 

Craigslist link removed

 

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Welcome!

Yes anvils are stupid expensive in California.

Honestly I wouldn’t give $700 for it. Id Save a bit more and get a Holland, Nimba, Hoffman or other new anvil.

Also, welding and grinding is generally a bad idea on an anvil unless you are extremely well versed and skilled in anvil repair. It’s a lot easier to make it worse that better, even to the point of no return.

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I think the biggest barrier to getting started is the unfounded belief that there are "proper tools" one must have to get started.  You can go to my local scrapyard and buy a better anvil than the viking swords were forged on for US 20 cents a pound.  It will look a lot more like anvils have looked for around 3000 years and not like the London pattern anvil which got it's current shape around 200 years ago.

I strongly suggest you do not grind any on the face of an anvil before you have ground off the exact same amount from your own face. The hardened face of an anvil is of limited depth and many a "cleaning up the face" has taken 100 years of use life off of it or sometimes even ruined it. I had an anvil that had spent 50 years in an unheated shed in a swampy area near a creek in Ohio. The face was covered with condensation pitting.  I wire brushed off the loose rust and started using it.  The sweet spot is nicely polished now and you can only see the original pitting near the heel.  Hot steel and scale is all most anvils need to make the face shine!

If you are not experience in the craft, do NOT make changes to your tools based on what you "think" they need.  Use them till you *know* what they need!

(Another big one is sharp edges on your anvil.  "Practical Blacksmithing";Volume 1, published in 1889; page 110: "For my own part I am satisfied not only that the sharp edges are useless, but that they are also destructive of good work. I cannot account for their existance except as a relic of a time  when the principles of forging were but little understood. I want both edges of my anvil rounded, not simply for a part of their length, but for their whole length.")

US$3 a pound is not a bad price on the West Coast.  I only see *1* imperfection that I might have repaired at an anvil repair day held by an ABANA affiliate.  I would suggest the Ball Bearing test to see if the face was softer than it should be.

Do you have the money without destroying your budget?  Are you willing to turn around and head home if it fails testing without being upset? Is it still even available?---decent deals on anvils have half lifes of hours after they are posted to the net!

'Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'"

 

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1 hour ago, stevomiller said:

Welcome!

Yes anvils are stupid expensive in California.

Honestly I wouldn’t give $700 for it. Id Save a bit more and get a Holland, Nimba, Hoffman or other new anvil.

Also, welding and grinding is generally a bad idea on an anvil unless you are extremely well versed and skilled in anvil repair. It’s a lot easier to make it worse that better, even to the point of no return.

Alright, thanks! The thing is, I'm by no means experienced. The most I've ever done in my history with smithing was making a few hooks and a fire poker on a 100 pound Vulcan, which in my opinion is actually a fairly competent anvil to learn and practice on. What I'm going for, because my main goal is small projects like chef knives and small fixed blades, is a 66 pound cast steel anvil I found on eBay which goes for $140 (there's some reviews on it, apparently a former Forged in Fire champion says they're pretty good). If I feel the need to upgrade to something a little better I'll do just that, but for now, seeing as I'm really inexperienced, I'll stick with the cheap cast steel anvil.

1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I think the biggest barrier to getting started is the unfounded belief that there are "proper tools" one must have to get started.  You can go to my local scrapyard and buy a better anvil than the viking swords were forged on for US 20 cents a pound.  It will look a lot more like anvils have looked for around 3000 years and not like the London pattern anvil which got it's current shape around 200 years ago.

The real problem I have with using an ASO is that they're really just a temporary replacement for an anvil, as eventually you'll get an actual anvil to work on. It seems to me that owning an actual anvil to practice and work on is better than using something that won't be necessarily used once you transition from a railroad track or big slab of steel to something more substantial. I'll keep the advice about not grinding it unless I know exactly what I'm doing, though. Just not sure if those dings on the surface may affect my work. I think that I'll check it out when I have the time.

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A cheaper anvil aka ASO is better than a railroad track, particularly if horizontal. 

That PW is a good anvil that will serve you well. The price is what it is in your area. Offer $500 and see how you go. It is a good size anvil for what you want to do.

There should be a legal limit to forging knives ... like there is for fishing or hunting ... say only 3 knives to each chandelier or gate. 

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The one main problem I have with the PW is its weight, which normally isn't a bad thing. This may sound naive, but I really don't have the type of space or strength to carry that around, and when that's paired with the fact that I don't have a shop and do my work in the backyard, it's kind of a pain to move around. Also, as I mentioned above, the shape it's in (lots of dents in the face) might affect the final product and I have no idea how to fix it. My current plan is to just go for the cheap ASO and maybe/hopefully find a better deal on an anvil when I really need to upgrade it. What do you think?

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Sorry; but you all have the jargon wrong! An ASO is not a cheaper anvil; it's an Anvil Shaped Object; something made to look like an anvil but doesn't work for an anvil---generally made from cast iron without a steel face or cut from an I beam with an unsupported face, etc.

A cheap or improvised anvil is an anvil.  I got my Y1K anvil when I had been smithing for a couple of decades and had a bunch of PW, HB, Trenton, A&H anvils already and still use it on a regular basis.

Look at all the striking anvils people are making *AFTER* they have a London pattern anvil---so they are not just a place holder like you seem to think.

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I agree with Thomas. Look through the improvised anvil thread and look at what is out there. Some , like the crusher hammers, are already very hard and make excellent anvils. For blades, a simple cube like the Japanese smiths have used for centuries would be a good option. Yellow hot steel is a lot softer than cold mild steel.

Where in CA are you? I grew up in Fairfield, and later made runs into the L.A. area. You are surrounded by anvils, they just are not London patterned.

Also at $700 you can buy a brand new 125# JHM , I like the one I have. Anvilbrand is one outlet for new. Nimba, Holland, Hoffman, Rhino, Ridgid, are some other retailers of new anvils.

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That price isn't horrible so this really isn't about the actual cost---however, you need to look at *value* to you also.  As others have said, an improvised anvil at 1/4 the cost would probably be just as serviceable and think of what you could also add to your toolbox with the money saved.  You'd probably be way ahead if you skipped the "real" anvil for now--one will come up later at the right price and time to be a good value for you if you have patience.  Might take a few years but you'll still be forging in the meantime and may even have some better secondary tools for now to get you even further than the actual anvil would.  Money better spent.

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I will say I have one of the 66lb EBay anvils and it’s a good anvil. I have a friend that has one as well. Only regret is that the seller doesn’t stock the 110lb version which I’d prefer. However I have a larger anvil so not a real issue. For a lighter anvil I believe they are a solid value.

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From my estimation PW anvils are softer than other makes. Mine has a divot in the face near the horn, and you see many with a lot of sway due to the soft wrought iron body.  If you are hesitant about that anvil due to the condition, don't get it, as you will constantly fret over it. Either buy a new one, get improvising, or find one in better shape in your eyes.  For me, that condition is OK to use, but for others they want super flat and smooth. I wouldn't spend $700 on that anvil - but that is just my opinion. It all depends on you the user and what you want even if it differs from what others want. You are the one using it, and you are the one who has to be happy with the purchase.

Fist thing I would do is sit down and determine what you want to do smithing wise - blades, artistic, tools, how large of items, etc.. then get the best anvil for those needs in regards to size, shape, new, used, after perusing the various threads here.

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