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66 lb. Chinese 'ACCIAIO' Anvil Unboxing and testing


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A short while back I ordered one of the 66 lb Chinese 'steel' anvils that used to be quite ubiquitous on everyone's favorite auction site, but as of late are no longer offered in the US.  Instead I grabbed it off of Amazon as it was the only place I could find one in the sub-$200 range.  The availability and delivery timelines were completely false, as it shipped well before they claimed there'd be more in stock, and lo and behold, I find this on my doorstep this evening:anviltest03.thumb.jpg.ff87124f29be2fd52bf88ff717972c08.jpg

Looks like the package has seen better days:

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Opening the box this was contained therein:

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I extracted the lump of metal from the box, and found it to have a grease and wax paper attached to the surface.  Surprisingly, there was no rocking, it sat flatly on the tabletop.

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Inspecting more closely, I came across a few blemishes that I wasn't particularly surprised to find.  There's some ugliness next to the pritchel hole, and a few corner dings on a corner and edge of the anvil.  Fortunately these dings shouldn't be a big deal when I dress the edges to take the sharpness off them. .

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Next, a closer look at the horn:

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And there was some ugliness in the undercarriage, the flashing and voids make me question whether there are voids just waiting to be found under the working surfaces.  I may eventually look at stripping the paint off this to see if body filler was used to hide a multitude of other sins.

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Next, I used some Goof Off to clean the top surface of the anvil.  There appear to be some pinhole voids in the surface, hopefully there's not more behind them:

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Taking a closer look at the hardy hole, it's 3/4" 'square', but had some serious burrs inside as a result of the grinding of the anvil suface.  Here you can see a big burr I bent up, as well as a dingleberry that was stuck to the bottom part of the hardy hole.  Needless to say, the hardy hole will require extensive cleaning with a file prior to use.

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Next, I laid out a grid on the anvil to do some rebound measurements.  The grid size over the main part of the face is 1/2", the tail of the anvil had 1" nominal size blocks.

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Next, I rigged up a quick scale apparatus to do rebound measurements.  I thought I had some clear polycarbonate tubes that would fit a 1/2" ball bearing, but it seems that I did not, so I had to resort to a plastic bottle.  The manila folder piece at the bottom has a cutout for the bearing to impact, this made sure that the testing stayed close to the point I wanted to test, and avoided excessive marks to the anvil face in case it wasn't hard enough to resist.

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I proceeded to get at least 2 measurements on every point on the grid, this was collected via video.  Unfortunately I didnt realize my autofocus kept hunting the whole time so there are a few points where I can't get a read on the bearing rebound during the test.  I can say that for most of the face of the anvil the rebound was in the 80-85% percent rebound range using a 1/2" bearing that was dropped from about 9-9.5 inches above the anvil face (the scale is segmented into 10 divisions).  Unlike some other reviewers of this anvil, the part around the hardy was no worse than the rest of it.  The bearing *did* leave some small marks in the face, but I wasn't really able to feel them, so I'd say the face is likely to be sufficiently hard (we'll see when I get to do more testing later this weekend.

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I'll be sure to update this thread as I conduct more tests.

 

I should note that I chose this particular anvil because it was readily available and relatively inexpensive.  By investing in this I can proceed with setting up my moveable anvil + vice bench and get on with life.  When a deal on a more substantial anvil comes along this one will be relegated to 'travel anvil' status.  Right now I'm still working on the basics and my hammer control, so the limited mass shouldn't put me at a severe disadvantage.  Plus, if I REALLY need a big anvil, there's a 387 lb chunk of steel sitting on a stump behind my shed I can use- but I won't be dealing with anything bigger than 1/2" stock for awhile anyways.

 

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Max ... as much as HojPoj results when available are sure of interest, don't base his results on a purchase. It is highly likely that those anvils are of heterogeneous quality, one hard, one soft, one more so and so, some smooth one porous. The sure thing in chinese anvils is their inconsistency and just like quoting change in the weather climate change, you can rest assured that there is anvil change galore in the chinese stock of anvils, so you roll the dice and buy. Then do your testing and see if you have been lucky. A bit like buying a lottery ticket, with much better odds of course.

However ... that anvil is surely way better than any bit of railroad in any shape, form or positioning. 

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Understood. I'm keeping my options as open as I can with the budget I have. If this is something that is, at the end of the day, a viable option I'll consider it. I like that it has the horn versus an improvised anvil in the thread I started, as I want to cut my teeth by forging my own tongs, and it would be beneficial to be able to craft different styles.

Since the goal for me is to do hobbyist knife crafting a "travel size" anvil would be perfect, with just enough flexibility where I could make some other things as the mood strikes. I've always subscribed to the philosophy that it's better to have and not need than need and not have.

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So, quick report.

Spent a lot of time today using the anvil, but not a whole lot on documenting, unfortunately.  This quick summary is more qualitative from the first time using the anvil, and not much in the way of numbers or photos (sorta busy at the moment, will document and post more later this week).

I had given the corners a quick swipe with a flap wheel, but found that even then it was too sharp after doing a bit of hammering hot steel on it.  I went back and put a more generous radius on about 2.5 inches of the left part of the face, this gave me an area that didn't mark the steel so much when working near the edges.  While not as lively as some of the student anvils I've used at the local ABANA club's setup, it seemed to perform fairly well for something of its size and pedigree.  The ring on it was fairly bothersome, and was somewhat dampened by a magnet from a microwave's magnetron.  Screwing it down to the stand helped a little bit too, but my method for securing wasn't as robust as I'd like (there's plenty of stuff of I'm going to need to fabricate in the future).

Funny enough, an impact hammer bit that I had fit nicely in the pritchel hole.  The round shank portion fit inside the hole, and it rested on the shoulder created by the transition to the hex portion of the bit shank.  After a while of using this for a rough n' ready hot cut, the shoulder started to deform the mouth of the hole, at which point I stopped using it this way.  I did try my hand at upsetting the shank to see if I could do it (not on the anvil, but on another big hunk of metal), the answer was 'Not today'.  All parting off of material was done by chisel for the rest of the day.  Proper hardy tooling is first on the list for the next time I get to do some fabrication.

After finishing my practice forging session, I took a knotted wire wheel on a grinder and started stripping the paint from certain sections of the anvil.  The horn and upper part of the sides got stripped, and I also gave the face a brushing so I could see how it was holding up.  At this point there were a few disappointments:

  • While the surface finish on the unground sides and horn was expected to be rubbish, the paint hid just how bad it was in certain areas.
  • On one side of the anvil, there's an anomaly in the surface that I can't tell if it's a void that got filled, or if it's something that was in the scrap that went into the melt that did not melt before it was poured.  It looks like it might be the end of a broken off screw or something, though if it really IS an inclusion it'd likely be something like a carbide tool or something that doesn't melt at steel casting temps.  Further study required.
  • I know I'm still fairly new to smithing, but there were a fair number of very noticeable hammer marks left on the face of the anvil at the end of the session.  What's curious though is that they're in spots that don't tend to work on much, and their shape indicates I was using a hammer that I KNOW is softer than it really ought to be (thanks, Blacksmith Depot Czech hammer :-\ ).  I'll need to pay better attention next time to see what I was doing and why the face is getting marked.  That I know of, I only had one blatantly obvious missed strike that hit the anvil face.  It may be partly due to the anvil being an inch or two higher than I'd like- yet another thing to check.

I also did a spark check.  The sparks from a grinder wheel traveled far, and had some starbursts consistent with that of a medium carbon steel.  I checked this against a cast-iron dumbbell, and I can at least say it is unequivocally NOT cast iron.  

The horn's taper and tip are fairly blunt.  This limited the size of the features that could be tweaked on the horn, and for what I was doing it's apparent I'll need to make a bick to work the smaller stuff that I was able to do on one of the local guild's student anvils.  On the bright side the horn worked reasonably well as a fuller for drawing out some 3/8 stock using the Fiskar's 3lb straight peen demolition hand sledge (see JLPServices' review of those hammers).  I'm happy to report that even with some too-cold stock and vigorous blows the horn stayed attached to the body.

The tail of the anvil wasn't as nice to work on, as it didn't seem to return the energy that the other surfaces did.  The taper WAS, however, helpful for working on sections between features that I didn't want to have to fix later, so that was nice.  

First impressions- it's a decent anvil that does what it's supposed to.  Would I say it's worth it?  For the price, yeah, I'd say it's worth getting if your work doesn't exceed the size it's meant to handle and you lack the time or patience to find a secondhand anvil (genuine or improvised).  For well under 200 bucks it's a viable option.

Do I have some gripes about it?  Yes, but in the face of the current anvil market I can deal with them for the price.  The unfortunate bit about the source, however, is that the product quality is very inconsistent, so where one person might get a great one, there'll be others that get lemons.  This is an inherent risk to procuring tooling from far-east sources.

Now that I've got the primary tools needed to get practicing, I'm less focused on trying to make-do with the stuff I scrounged and can actually focus on getting set up properly and actually USE the stuff I have.  And THAT, my friends, is well worth it to me.  

More thoughts and pictures to come after this week's important work deadline.

Cheers,

Eric Leatherbury

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Fantastic review! The amount of detail you went into with this is outstanding. I've seen a few videos of this type of anvil and the ring does seem to be excessive. I'm wondering if building a base and sinking the last two inches of the anvil in sand would be sufficient to dampen the ring. Perhaps smiths more experienced that I would have better suggestions.

Overall your review has given me some things to ponder and debate. But at the same time I don't want to fall victim to analysis paralysis and am anxious to get cracking. Guess it's a good thing my forge isn't here yet, so I can't rush into this decision too much.

Thanks again mate! 

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To dampen the ring, build a nice solid tripod with rectangular hollow section as thick wall as you can find and a thick plate for the base. weld plates to the end of the legs and fill the pipe with sand and oil. Get two flat bar across the legs and bolt the lot down with 5/8" bolts a tight as you can. No more ringing. Just a clog clog ... or it is bump bump ... mm ... may be plonk plonk ... :P

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On chinese casting voids, they sometimes drive what looks like a drywall screw in so that the "bondo" doesn't pop right out--the screw giving some purchase when they slather the bondo into the void.  I assume they pre-drill a small hole at the back of the void that's just enough for the screw to bite.   I've seen it that way a couple of times now on Chinese castings. On one, they snipped the screw head off so it didn't protrude before adding the bondo.  That was actually on a pump casting and the screw tip projected into the pump bore.

Not sure if that's what you are describing when you mention when you say "It looks like it might be the end of a broken off screw or something"

Kinda makes one wonder just how bad a flaw has to be for them to actually reject a casting...

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46 minutes ago, MaxwellB said:

Overall your review has given me some things to ponder and debate. But at the same time I don't want to fall victim to analysis paralysis and am anxious to get cracking. Guess it's a good thing my forge isn't here yet, so I can't rush into this decision too much.

I'd say just get it and stop waffling about it.   One nice thing is that it's easier to carry than many improvised options.  If it's a lemon, you can just consider it a combined bick and portable hole to accompany a scrapyard improvised anvil. 

3 minutes ago, Kozzy said:

On chinese casting voids, they sometimes drive what looks like a drywall screw in so that the "bondo" doesn't pop right out--the screw giving some purchase when they slather the bondo into the void.

Ohhhh, thanks for that,  Kozzy!  That at least makes investigating it a bit easier (rather than scratching my head wondering just what the HECK I'm looking at). 

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30 minutes ago, Marc1 said:

To dampen the ring, build a nice solid tripod with rectangular hollow section as thick wall as you can find and a thick plate for the base. weld plates to the end of the legs and fill the pipe with sand and oil. Get two flat bar across the legs and bolt the lot down with 5/8" bolts a tight as you can. No more ringing. Just a clog clog ... or it is bump bump ... mm ... may be plonk plonk ... :P

No welder, and don't have the sufficient electrical to rent/borrow one. Plus I have less experience with welding than I do with smithing!

6 minutes ago, HojPoj said:

I'd say just get it and stop waffling about it.   One nice thing is that it's easier to carry than many improvised options.  If it's a lemon, you can just consider it a combined bick and portable hole to accompany a scrapyard improvised anvil.

This is the direction I'm leaning towards. Like you said, if it's a lemon it'll still have use.

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I got lucky on mine I bought perhaps a year ago. $140 shipped, no pin holes, no major voids, harder than wood pecker lips in January. Rebound 90%+, much cleaner casting but not perfect. Yes, like yours working over the tail isn’t as efficient, it is cantilevered off the sweet spot quite a bit. Totally worth the price I paid for a travel size anvil. 

BTW, really nice review. (-:

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I spent a few minutes last night doing some cleaning in the garage, and have the following additional points:

  • The horn is softer than the face of the anvil.  This conclusion was arrived at through use of a file.  I did a small amount of cleaning up the tip of the horn, and as I moved towards the face the material removal rate diminished to the point that the file was skating off the surface.   Given that the file can bite in other parts of the body this leads me to believe that there is a significant differential in either the hardening or tempering that could be the result of uneven cross sections, or perhaps it was induction hardened over just the face.
  • Upon closer inspection the void I referred to earlier didn't have a screw or anything in it, it was just the body filler that happened to have a dollop end that looked like a fracture.  I'll still need to probe it to see how deep the void is.
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I’m not sure if the softer horn is intentional or just a lucky artifact of their heat treating regimen, but my round horn was substantially softer, as was the one onmy friends. A new file would skate on the face and edge of my anvil as well (US made Johnson mill pattern).

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Not saying I was hoping the horn would be hardened (they're usually softer anyways), just wanted to make note of it.  Just one of those things where if a piece is cast and if they did an oven heat treat, one would reasonably expect the properties to be uniform throughout the piece (even on the waist of the anvil).  Given that it's really only hardened over the face, this shows that the heat treating was more localized, and it'd be interesting to see just how deep the hardening actually goes.

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I bit the bullet and ordered one of these. Hoj, you mentioned that the shipping times were really skewed. Do you recall how long it took for you to get yours? Mine's not going to be in stock (supposedly) until Feb 15. But I remember you mentioned above you got it before it was even supposed to be in stock.

Just trying to plan some stuff out. Guess I need to start researching good bases for it now.

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As far as mounts go, I'd just screwed together some boards id cut for making an improvised anvil stand.  Worked well enough for initial use, though it stood a little higher than I wanted it to.  Slapped on a couple pieces to stabilize its footprint (no, this won't be used for much longer).  I used some steel channel that was on hand as temporary tie-down brackets (it's stuff that's used for making server racks, it conveniently already had holes in it).

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A slightly larger footprint and some lag bolts and angle iron would likely be more than adequate for this.

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