Russell G.

New to blacksmithing and need some help

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I wanted to try my hand at blacksmithing and I dug this up from my grandparents old house before it gets sold, I know nothing about it could someone please help me out a little.  It's been in the family for several generat I on but hasn't been used in a very long time.  I don't even know how to clean it.  And info on this anvil or any tips to cleaning would be great, thanks... Russ

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The best way to clean an anvil is with a wire wheel on an angle grinder. then wipe it with some BLO to protect it from rusting further. At least that's what I do. Others use electrolysis. Once it's cleaned there may be some maker or other identifying info revealed. Without that it will be difficult to ID it. To me it looks possibly a Colonial anvil (time period not maker). More pictures from every angle will also help.

Have you read about not grinding, milling, or welding on the hardened face?

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Yup looks colonial to me too and I double down on NOT  grinding, milling, or welding on the hardened face!

BTW you may want to read the Improvised anvils thread if you feel you really need a pristine face.

 

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Ok so do is this still ok to work on then.  Is it a rare object, should I sell it to buy a different on for a beginner it weighs 140 pounds on the scale.

 

I will post more pics to orrow when I go back out to the shop.

 

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Your anvil looks like a real old timer.

I would not touch it until Mr. Black Frog, or  NJanvilman or other anvil maven,  (on the site),  see it and post to this thread.

Generally,  anvils are not even considered old except if they are older than about 1820 or earlier.

It looks like a colonial anvil.  I do not see a hardy nor a pritchel hole in the anvil picture, you posted. And the anvil feet are not large.

SLAG.

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There is a hole on top in the back for the pieces, I don't have any of course but am on the look out for them.

 

So yes there is a hardy hole. Just hard to see from the picture. I'll put some more up here tomorrow.  Thank yall for all the help so far.  But yes any expert, well any opinions would be very welcomed.

 

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My vote is colonial as well.  Anvils in America by Postman states that colonial anvils didn't have the cut-off shelves up to 1780 so I would feel confident in saying your anvil is 1780 or older.  Your anvil looks a lot like the one in the Rochester Historical Society.  It has one hole in the tail of it and is of similar shape.  That has a date of 1632 on it but many feel that date was chiseled in later and that it may not really be that old.

I'd see no problem wire wheeling it.  Wash it well with just soap & water.  Get a quality wire wheel attachment and put it on an angle grinder.  Lightly run it over the surface just to take the rust off.  Don't apply pressure!  Your goal is not to get it down to bare shiny metal, but to get the rust off and preserve the centuries of dark patina.  Once you've removed all the rust, was it again with soap & water and then oil it.  BLO (boiled linseed oil) works and so does new 5W-30 motor oil.

What you have there is a genuine artifact and I think you have to approach it in that manner.  How many old anvils like yours are still around?  I don't know, but dang few and may only number in the thousands at this point in time.  Can you forge on it?  Yes, you can.  Should you forge on it?  In my opinion, if it were mine, I would not forge on it.  If you are new to forging you could damage it unintentionally.  Your anvil is a part of colonial history.  Clean it up and be proud of it, but think long and hard about using it to learn blacksmithing.  I'm not saying you can't, because it is your anvil and you can do what you like with it.  Clean it up and show us some pictures of it all clean and beautiful.  The process I and others describe for cleaning had this results for me. 

Before picture:

 

DSCN3845.thumb.JPG.29b583229464f3c653d3384bc48dbdec.JPG

 

After Cleaning:

DSCN5287.thumb.JPG.f562842818105b04935eb9569b71628b.JPG.ec7d0f9f47652c79b084dda53db5e5e7.JPG

That dark patina you see on my anvil is what you want to protect when you clean yours up.  It shouldn't look silver in color and don't grind the surface at all.  

 

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Thank you so much Mc hammer,  I really appreciate the info you peovided.  I will clean it up and show more pics.  I will look for another to use as a working peice.  I was told this has been in the family at least 6 generations so I won't part with it.  But I'm really proud to have it bow thay I'm learning more about it. I am really hoping I can find some kind of mark on it thay at least tells me the company.   Again thank you for your input.  Hope yall keep them coming.

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FWIW, I’d say use it. As a tool it was meant to be used.  My anvil is nowhere near as old as yours, but it gives me a thrill when I use it as it was intended 100 years ago.  Id love to make something with a tool that was 300 years old. What a buzz that would give. Yes you could damage it, but hey, its lasted this long, it’s tough!  Whatever you do simply adds more to its history.

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Why I suggested looking at improvised anvils---make your mistakes on something you won't regret and then move to the Oldster for a travel anvil or historical demos!

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Wow Mc hammer your right, mine does look almost exactly like the moses anvil thay someone sold for $4000 in australia, which is supposed to be like the oldest one in America or something.  I don't think I'll use her.  I'm about to go and try cleaning her up now.  I'll post a few more pics before and then after ao everyone can get a closer look at it.  I'm really excited to have this.  My wife found out and wants to sell it but I don't think I could ever let go of something like this.  It's just too old and to me it's just about priceless.  

I meant to put in there that thays what I popped up when I searched Rochester historical society anvil too.

Yea Ibe got a 98# I'm going to look at this weekend for my beginner anvil thomas.

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13 hours ago, RogerrogerD said:

FWIW, I’d say use it. As a tool it was meant to be used.  My anvil is nowhere near as old as yours, but it gives me a thrill when I use it as it was intended 100 years ago.  Id love to make something with a tool that was 300 years old. What a buzz that would give. Yes you could damage it, but hey, its lasted this long, it’s tough!  Whatever you do simply adds more to its history.

That's the other side of the coin for sure.  You aren't wrong to use an anvil that old, but it is an important artifact.  The buzz could come at a cost by way of damage.  A good middle ground would be to get another anvil and work out your mistakes on it / develop your skills and then occasionally use the old lady to connect with your family past.

Can't wait to see pictures of it all cleaned up!  Put the price right out of your mind.  You'd regret selling a piece of your family history.  You are the latest in your family to be the caretaker of that anvil, you wouldn't want to be the one remembered for selling it for cash.  I'm not really sure it's worth $4K without tying it to something historically important.  If I were you, I'd do some genealogy research of your family.  The census data will show you who the blacksmith in your family was and then you can find out where his shop was.   I located the last blacksmith shop in my small town and all that is there is a foundation, but if it were my relative it would be neat to stand there.  

  

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Thanks,  that's a good idea.  I'm not sure about how to do the genealogy but I'll start in that very soon I'm sure I can figure it out on the internet.  Thank you again for the great advice.

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