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Drunken Dwarf

New anvil. Excited, but cleaning required?

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Hi everyone.

After quite a while of checking gumtree every day and raising some funds via the sale of an old guitar, I am thrilled with my new anvil. It cost me £250 and was being used as a flowerbed decoration and although there's some damage to one edge, it's not something I'm particularly worried about.

I THINK it's been painted, it looks unusually black, there's a faint indentation for some markings but I can't make them out at all, definitely doesn't show on picture. It's 87cm long, 31cm tall and 14.5cm wide across the face. (34.25" x 12.2" x 5.7") and took 2 of us to lift it into my trailer (was difficult) ... My wife is a nurse and says she has at work some scales for ..... ahem ... larger patients, hopefully I can get a weight on it.

Should I clean it up? By cleaning I mean stripping the paint and rust off, and if so, how? I was thinking a wire cup wheel on a grinder, or soak in paint remover for an hour or so before washing off. I've seen oven cleaner clean up a painted/rusty vice well (I think on this forum).

I see people painting their anvils and always thought that would make them less effective, at least on the face/horn? Also, I love the lustre of bare metal anvils, maybe with a bit of oil to preserve them, but I really don't want to wreck it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated, and especially curious as to whether I got a good deal or not on it.

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First: it's your anvil you can do anything you want to it, even covering it with Marmite and calling it Sid. 

I myself wouldn't do more than wire brush it and wipe it down with boiled linseed oil---save for the face/horn which should not be oiled if you plan to use it.  Regular use will keep the face in good shape.

Pretty much the only way to wreck it is to grind/mill on the face, weld on it without knowing/following the exact repair process for anvils, or to heat it such that it loses the face's temper.

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Wire wheel is fine for cleanup, just wear a respirator or at very least a dust mask. You could coat it several ways to preserve it. Boiled linseed oil, other oil and reapply on occassion, flat or mat engine spraycan clearcoat. Just dont paint the face or upper horn. Using it will keep the face clean or if it sits give it a light wipe with oil. 

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Drunken Drawf,

i followed the directions given by Thomas and Daswulf on 3 anvils I have picked up and I am very pleased with the results. 

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Interesting anvil. For weight, look for the english weight marks on the end of the feet. I am guessing about 300 lbs. Looks like the thinner tool steel plate was welded on over the original plate, probably at the factory. Should be fine as long as you use the other side, and don't miss with a sledgehammer too often. Suggestion is to make a striking anvil instead, if you plan on having a striker. Your anvil looks like a better deal than what I am seeing out here in the southwest usa.

If you clean it, and want to keep the original patina for historical or antique purposes, than use a wire wheel , rather than a flap wheel or grinder. Then BLO.

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I've don't recall ever seeing an english anvil with CWT marked on the feet, always on the side; but could be either side depending on the manufacturer.  Anyone else ever seen a CWT weight on the front of the feet?

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Not sure what 250 quid would be in Australian, but I'm sure you got a better deal than what you would find here. No weight marks on the side?

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Thanks for the advice. I'll be wire wheeling it, and some BLO this weekend :) maybe a little marmite.

There are faint weight marks on the side but I can't make them out, they might be clearer once I've got the paint off.

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Try sprinkling a bit of flour on it laying on the side and lightly brush it off leaving it in the markings---can often help clear up stampings.

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Just to get a look at the stamping on the side I was thinking of this oven cleaner technique Here which was linked to in this IFI post about cleaning an anvil Post

My reasoning behind this is that I could do it more carefully with a wire brush by hand, rather than a knotted wire wheel on an angle grinder.

Any opinions on this?

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The anvil does not have to be worked on today. Practice several options before you decide which one to use.

Hand wire brushing is less aggressive than a powered wire wheel. The powered wire wheel can be used to touch the rust to remove everything to approach sand blasting clean. Patina that took 100 or more years to develop can not be replaced in your life time so leaving or removing it is your choice. 

There is one fellow on the site that sandblasts every anvil he purchases and resales. His reasoning was to expose everything down to the bare metal so there was nothing hidden. He then put a light coat of something on the anvil to keep it from rusting until the client got it.

Chemical rust and paint remover does just that. It removed everything down to bare metal or to the point you want to stop. 

A method that has been discussed in the past is electrolysis to remove the rust.

Pressure washers can be used to remove heavy rust. They create pressures from 1000 to 4000 pounds of pressure and depending on the nozzle used and distance from the material being washed, can be controlled to remove material to the point you want to stop.  Water pressure is also used to cut steel such as beams so test your pressure and distance setting first.

The pressure washer at 1500 psi or less has been used to clean the heave grease, grime, debris from many things such as car engines, equipment, etc. A wash, followed by detergent cleaner, let it sit for a while and wash again is amazing. 

No reason to just pick something up and go. Use any method in a test situation first. Decide what you like and apply the least aggressive method first. Please let us know what works for you.  Before you clean the anvil research and decide what you want to protect it from rust in the future. 

Leave the face of the anvil and top of the horn alone as it is best cleaned and polished with using HOT metal and a hammer.

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Ditto Glenn. There is no need to get in a hurry The only thing you can be assured of doing by rushing is making your mistakes permanent more quickly. That beautiful old lady has waited a long time to come to you, she deserve a little time and patience don't you think? ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I absolutely don't wish to rush and damage my new baby. This Saturday I will take what I consider to be the lightest approach (a bit of surface/oven cleaner and a hand brush) and try it on the underside of the feet in a small area to have a look at the result. Then work up from there 

I do understand the 'petina' which will not build up again in my lifetime, however in my mind, petina is an aging effect on metal, seeing as this appears to be painted I'd say that ship has already sailed.

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So the oven cleaner and hand wire brush did absolutely nothing :) The example on the previous post was lye based, but I don't think we can get that in our country, at least it's not readily available in supermarkets. There was hints of another colour coming through (more the brushing than the cleaner) so I think there's more than 1 coat of paint on it.

I will move up to the wire wheel I think.

While I'm taking it slow on what I do with the anvil, I'm also building the anvil stand which has been fun, a bit surprised by the height though. I've read a lot through the anvil height thread, I'd originally just thought about the knuckle height rule, however I did make a tall block of wood and strike it, adjusting the height until I got full round impressions, and was really surprised that it was at BELOW knuckle height, even though there was a lot of comments that wrist height is actually better as the old knuckle height is based off having strikers and top tools.

I am wondering whether I was standing closer to the block than I could to an anvil or if there was something wrong with my posture, though I tried to keep the back straight.

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Everybody's different but knuckle height testing too high makes me think you don't have the test method quite right. 

Wear the shoes you're going to work in. Stand relaxed with your hands just hanging at your side, your better working height should fall between knuckles and wrist though range can extend a LITTLE beyond either way.

A lot depends on what you're working on. If you're working on thicker steel with heavier hammers you'll want the hammer lower in part to make up for the thickness of the steel and height of top tools. If on the other hand you're doing close work, say blades you need precision over power so higher is preferable closer so you can see more clearly and strike more precisely. 

Make sense?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Not to mention standing *at* the anvil and not a step (or more!) away.   Many of my students seem to be afraid the anvil is going to bite them and stand far away from it and then bend over to hammer.

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41 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

anvil is going to bite them and stand far away from it and then bend over to hammer.

Yeah, I spend as much first session time trying to get folk to stop holding their arms away from their bodies and chasing the stock with a flailing hammer chicken dance routine. Sometimes I feel like zip tying their elbows to a belt loop. 

If you find yourself doing any of the things we're talking about right now Drunken Dwarf, don't worry it's all part of the learning curve hammering at the anvil is NOT intuitive, it takes some training to get your muscle memory on line. Yes?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Have you ever seen rust on the face of the anvil?  If so the anvil is not being used.

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