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I already have a magnificent 5CWT John Brooks anvil. But a family member has just presented me with a “new” 50kg eastern European anvil, that came from some factory. Looks nice enough, but... it’s awful soft. I think it came out of the factory before having a hardened steel top face forge welded on it.   About a 20% bounce with a ball bearing and the ball bearing leaves an indentation even. Yuck.  So while I’m grateful for the thought, I’m trying to repurpose it.  It has a 3/4 inch hardy hole which is fine, I can use it simply for holding hardy tools.  But what else can I use it for? Is it feasible to cut channels in it with an angle grinder, file them off into an ad hoc swage Block? Will it be too soft for that purpose?  Drill it to make a monkey tool? Form some rivet headers? It feels like sacrilege, but it’s simply a big block of soft mild steel that cost me nothing. I doubt it would be worth the £ of finding someone to put a face on it.  Maybe it’s just a big door stop for my workshop, but any suggestions gratefully received. 

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If it’s truly steel, and not cast iron, if you or a friend are a good welder it could be worth building up the face (free labor just materials and tool wear costs). A couple layers of impact resisting medium hardness, followed by the needed passes/res of a higher hardness. 

Your original plan, if steel, is also good. Use the hardy hole and horn, and add dovetails for dies.

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I don't believe anyone has been forge welding faces on anvils in a production basis for over 50 years now.(Probably much longer than that!) Easier/cheaper to just use a steel body and harden the face.  Check the bottom for cast iron, (drill or grinder spark test). If it tests as steel and possibly hardenable steel you may want to try hardening it!

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Ah, yes to biggun and TP IF it is at least medium carbon steel.

My suggestion for hardfacing was if it was MILD steel.

As Biggun and TP say, there’s a couple ways to test, by spark observation or actually trying to harden an edge first.

Then it will all about a kiln or a bonfire, a cherry picker (engine hoist), and a bath date with a very large barrel of circulating brine.

Be careful, steam burns are some of the worst I’ve gotten, and that includes a couple third degree burns.

Let us know what you finally do, I think it’s  great that you want to get the most out of this thing!

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Great suggestions all. Thanks everyone.   It came from a disused factory, a pile (!), that perhaps had been abandoned before finishing.  In truth I’m coming round to the idea of leaving it soft - I have a very big, very hard anvil so going to the effort of hardening it, is interesting,  but I don’t have the kit or the imperative.  I’ll spark test tomorrow and report back . 

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OK I spark tested my “soft” anvil. Its definitely cast mild steel.  So I appreciate everyone’s useful input.  Because I already have a big “hard” anvil, I’m going to leave this soft, use it as a cutting table, and also semi permanently mount my “smithin’ magician” in the hardy. Welding up a hard face is bit beyond me and I don’t need a second hard anvil, so its luxury. Makes me wonder what was going on in that east european factory that I think was making Branco anvils on a sub contract. Looks like a Branco “blacksmith” anvil. Just for interest does anyone know if these go against the modern technique and do actually forge weld a carbon steel top on?  Or is this an anomaly and why it was maybe abandoned.?05D70C82-22FC-4427-85A0-53859BC11EAF.thumb.jpeg.2aba417ab1ad71b235a8a532c8d7529f.jpeg

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