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Block Anvil

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I was able to get a block of A2 tool steel that is 4x6x10. I plan to radius half of the edges and build a stand (either from 2x12s or 4x6s). I'm looking for advice, however, on a couple topics. 

I was thinking of forging on the 4x6 face, but would like to hear from more experienced voices on whether one of the others would be better. 

Also, should I worry about hardening the face I use? I'm pretty sure it was annealed for cutting. I hit (not too hard) with a small hammer and didn't notice any marks or anything. Unsure if hardening would have any benefit. 

Anything else you would suggest? I'm just starting out, but I have read a lot. 


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Welcome aboard Strocknar, glad to have you. Use it just the way you show it in the picture. The more steel directly under the hammer the more effective it will be.  Heat treating tool steel that thick isn't a trivial thing at all. I don't know a lot about A2 but I believe sending it to a professional heat treater would be the only option for getting reliable results.

I'd use it as is but I don't know if it's susceptible to work hardening and chipping.  Someone more familiar with A2 will speak up shortly I'm sure.  

Frosty The Lucky.

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Several years ago I saw a Youtube video of a guy hardening a 200 kg block of air hardening steel. He heat up one of the top faces of the block and then let it cool down. I cannot find the video, the title was just the series number generated by the camera. He adapted a fire wood stove as a forge, welded some brackets to the block to be able to handle it, set an hoist on top of the forge and let few weed burners work for several hours to warm up the block. Then he hoisted the block, removed "forge" from underneath and let it air cool for many hours. And yes, there was some hardness added to the heat treated face, but not as hard as you would expect. If the price is right, I would go for a professional heat treater. 

By the way, did you check all faces of the block to check if there is any harder area?

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  • 3 weeks later...

A2 / 1.2363 is an air hardening steel. As in, get it beyond critical or non-magnetic, hold and aircool, and it will harden quite deep. It's a very fine steel actually :-)

However, hardening a block of this size is NOT simple. You cannot heat up one end and let it aircool, as the heat in the other end will anneal it. You also cannot heat up one end and quench it, as it will crack the top layer. You need to get it entirely hot, soak for a LONG time, and you need to quench it some way suitable for this steel in this size, as still air will be too slow.  If I needed to harden this, i'd get professional help.

 If you want to use it as an anvil as such; I wouldn't harden it at all, and I would not grind out the inevitable hammer marks; as this alloy workhardens easily. meaning; the more you deform the top layer, the harder it will become. 

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