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Although I understand the advice that I can make a usable anvil from scrap metal, there aren’t a lot of scrap yards around me in Northern Virginia. I checked on the usual places and wonder if y’all might comment on a couple of my options. 

a Peter Wright 160:

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a Fisher Norris 100:

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Any thoughts on which would be better and how much might be reasonable?

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As an add-on to my question above, if my primary interest is knifemaking, would I be better off with a worn (some sway) ~150 lb used anvil or a new 85 lb. from Holland Anvil? I get the sense that bladesmithing may not require as much mass in an anvil but I can imagine larger is better as a general matter. I will make a massive, stable mount for either. It strikes me that a flat surface could be useful from time to time and that I would one day appreciate it if I have one. 

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Good question. How much experience do you have at the anvil will make a difference as will how large the blades and stock you plan on using will be. None of us can read the future though. <Sigh> 

Right now as we type there are world class bladesmiths making good livings forging swords on stake anvils a few inches across and sitting on the ground. Experience and skill makes up for anvil size. That puts a + on the 85lb. new anvil's side of the list.

However, if you'd like to maybe do some architectural or decorative projects as well, they might be easier on a larger face and some marks will just be texture. so that's  + on the old anvil side.

Were I you I'd buy the 85lb. Holland, they're a known quantity and unmarked. You get to put the dings in it if you can. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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That’s kind of the direction I’m leaning. 

On the anvils pictured above, the top one wants $540 and the bottom wants $400. How does that strike you?

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I am astounded that there are no forklifts in Northern VA; I thought they were endemic!

If you worry about sound and neighbors; then the Fisher would be a big plus; though there are ways of quieting other anvils.

With prices like that I'd go to Holland.

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Thanks for the feedback. That’s what was leading me to a new anvil. Just have to decide if the 85 is sufficient or if I have reason enough to get a 140. 

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I'm not a knifemaker, so I may be wrong about this, but do you really need the horn or heel of an anvil when forging knives? If not, I would say your best option might just be to go to some scrapyards and find a big chunk of steel with at least one relatively flat face for cheap. I'm of the opinion that hardened anvil faces are a bit overrated for hobby use.

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Before I order one I may spend some more time checking scrapyards. Thanks. 

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Yes, they were used when grinding them to finish and heat treating. My cast steel Soderfors has handling holes for the same reasons.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Holland anvil has a warranty, as I recall. For the same price, would you rather buy a brand new car, or meet someone in a parking lot to buy a used car? You can't call up Fisher if the horn falls off. :) Not that it would...

According to Josh Greenwood, a sway in an anvil has many uses. Adding bevels on blades, for example. However, you can do that on a new anvil as well, just tilt the blade. The PR looks like it has a lot of sway, it may be harder to resell if you upgrade later on. I personally would not buy it for bladesmithing, because of the sway. I can find better, for the money,

Bladesmiths do use the horns, depending on the blade style, and tang shape.

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I have a Vulcan on my wall of shame that has the horn broken off; happened in the local University's Fine Arts Metals classes.  The instructor gave both pieces to me after I sourced a swedish cast steel anvil as a replacement---for free. I use it to explain why I don't like Vulcans. (Bad casting defects!).

OTOH I love my Fisher and wouldn't trade a pickup for it!

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I just ordered a Holland 140. Best of both worlds hopefully, and I’m excited to start this new hobby... (and I do realize how much overkill it is)

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Its certainly not overkill, 140 is a nice size. Just because 85 will do doesn't mean a LITTLE more isn't gooder. 

The watchword here being, "If a little is good more MIGHT be better." In this case it's true within reason. It's not like you're buying a 600lb. monster.

You're going to be a happy customer. Betcha!

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good stuff, thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely update as things progress. 

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140 lbs is a great size for just about everything. Good choice!

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17 hours ago, jwmelvin said:

I just ordered a Holland 140. Best of both worlds hopefully, and I’m excited to start this new hobby... (and I do realize how much overkill it is)

Thank you for the order JM! We are shipping it today! Cheers

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My beautiful anvil is here. Now I need to figure out how to mount it! I don’t seem to have a section of tree that is the ~18” length I need. May have to bundle some large lumber; or make a reinforced-concrete stand. I think the former, at least until I know exactly what height I want. 

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I've become a big fan of the welded steel stand, but bundled lumber (stood on end, please!) will certainly work.

 

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Since I don’t yet know the height I want the anvil, I made a box to fill with stone dust. It was a quick way to try my new anvil.

I just fired up my forge for the first real time and tried to bash some metal. Pretty fun. Here is the result; I started a pair of tongs. They are rough but I think I will be able to make them function. Happy first project. 

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