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Advice for setting up old anvil

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I am a beginner getting set up to forge at home now that our club smithy is shut down due to the virus. A couple months ago I was given an old anvil with the heel (and unfortunately the hardie hole) missing. It's still decently stout and has a lot of useable surface, but the edges are quite rough. It would be nice to get at least one area of the edge to be a sharper angle - especially since it's missing a hardie hole. And I'm quite limited in shop space, so having as many useful features on the one tool as possible would be ideal (e.g. rather than set up a second improvised anvil/stand as well). 

Any tips/thoughts on preparing the anvil for work?

I'm mainly interested in making hardware (decorative hooks, latches, hinges) and woodworking & blacksmithing tools at the moment. 

A thought I had was to square off (or a small radius) the broken edge at the heel end and just grind the edges that are splitting open on the sides (to prevent them from tearing off).  It would also be cool if there was a relatively easy way to add a hardie hole, but I imagine that's a more daunting project. 

I had thoughts about tickling part of the face with a belt sander to try to get at least a small flattish section, but gather from what I've read here that that is usually considered a bad idea... 












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Welcome to the forum! Your anvil looks a lot like the anvil I've been using for the past year and a half.

It's not too difficult to work around not having the heel/hardy and pritchel holes once you make/scrounge some tools to take their place. I would remove the mushroomed edges, and I did grind the broken heel edge on mine to make it more useful. I would not recommend doing anything else to the face though. I keep a railroad track anvil next to mine which is very useful for replacing some of the anvil's shortcomings.


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That's good advice - thanks guys. 

I like the idea of having a small section of RR track beside the anvil for when I want a flat face - the pictures make the anvil face look flatter than it is. 

ThomasPowers, I had thought about getting some square tube welded onto the end, but was worried (besides that big a weld being beyond my skill set) about the leverage on the welds.... Offsetting the hardie tools to rest on the anvil face totally makes sense. It would sure be handy to have hardy tools that can work on the same anvil. 


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I would follow what Chelonian said. You have the most important part and the most used part,, the face of your anvil. With a bit of practice about 90% of your work can be done there. 

If you add another key tool, a post vice, amongst other things, it can hold any hardy tools you might have.

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you could always bolt a bit of square tube to the heel area, rather than welding. you should be able to drill and tap the wrought iron body without too much trouble. Its only there to stop the tool moving around, the anvil itself will take the pounding.

another option is to drive a bit of sq tube into the base/stand, would need to be at the side rather then the heel to get a straight drive down to the base.

or you could just forgo the hardy hole altogether and just make saddle tools. 

lots of way to skin the cat.

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