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Newbie here, just bought my first anvil. Cleaning and ID?

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My first anvil, feels good, feels really good!
Not sure my car agrees though after the trip home!

I want to love it and care for it and have given it a light wire brushing as it was mossy and double painted... 
I would like to know as much about it as possible, i work it out as 326lbs from the 2 3 18 on the side and also that it is probably English because of this numbering.
It has a cross with dots on the other side and JWJ     /\  on one of the legs. I have attached some pics if it worked!

If anyone can help me id it I would be very grateful.

One of the hardy holes is blocked with ?lead, i'll probably just leave that. The other hole will work if i need it.
The chip on the side I will probably also leave I cant bring myself to angle grind her just yet!
I was going to oil it but realised that the only oil i had was either two stroke or mineral oil for my bike brakes! Would either be appropriate or should I go out and buy something specific?

Any advice on how to maintain her would also be greatly appreciated.

I plan on making some knives when I get a hammer some tongues and a forge to go with her (i'll probably make one out of an old propane tank or something coz i'm skint now!).

Thanks in advance. Keiran.


Cross side.jpg


Number side.jpg




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Welcome aboard Keiran, glad to have you.  Nice score on the anvil, that looks like it has a couple few generations of life in her. Your great grandkids will be bragging on you while showing it and your work off. 

The chips aren't serious nothing to worry about until you're skills have grown to a solid proficient level. Then if they give you problems is plenty soon enough to consider addressing them. I can see at least part of the edges are radiused and that's a good thing, it allows you to set shoulders without causing the cold shuts a sharp inside corner and initiate. That's good.

Not knowing how old the paint on that beautiful old lady is I would NOT sand or wire brush it off, lead paint was prevalent in the not too distant past and the dust is NOT A GOOD THING. If you MUST remove the paint look into a paint stripper or perhaps have it professionally sand basted, they will be prepared to dispose of hazardous materials it's the nature of their business. You'd have to call around for prices of course and the weight may be a factor. If you chemically strip the paint you'll have a hazardous material to deal with safely, there may be a charge.

Is there a reason you want to take the paint off? There is nothing about a painted anvil that interferes with using it as the tool it is. Aesthetics can get expensive. I believe most anvils came from the maker painted company colors or whatever color the buyer would pay for. 

A good finish is Boiled Linseed Oil, often called BLO on Iforge. My favorite is Trewax a brand of carnuba paste furniture and floor wax. The kind of wax used on bowling alley lanes, you know the kind they have to use a drum sander to strip off. I apply it to hot tea/coffee temperature steel or the anvil and wipe off the excess it soaks in deeply and when cool is really hard and durable. That isn't a sales pitch I just prefer the finish.

More folk will be jumping in.

 Frosty The Lucky.


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Thanks frosty,

I was only taking paint off to see/reveal the markings more as I would like to know more about her. 
I like the black and green finish and will be leaving it, I definitely like it much more than potentially lead laced dust! haha.
I will have a look online for the waxes (thanks for the tip) but failing that I'll get some linseed oil, I have used it before and have relatively easy access to it.

Thanks again for the advice,


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You're welcome, it's my pleasure. 

The trick will be warming your anvil enough to melt carnuba paste wax so it'll penetrate if you go that route. But it's durable, mine anvil is still waxed after a good 30+ years, some outside in the old tarp tent shop. 

 Frosty The Lucky.

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Irondragon, thanks.

I don't have a ballbearing to test but it feels bouncy under a hammer and sings a nice tune!
I might pull apart one of my bikes to get a small bearing, size of bearing only matters to help see it easily right?

Thanks again, Keiran

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I ran across a helicopter mechanic at his moving sale, he made me take 2 buckets of loose bearing balls loaded till the handles were ready to break if I REALLY wanted the aviation snips and hammers. Darn guy wouldn't take more than $5. for the lot and he kept walking to the truck with armloads of other stuff. He was really REALLY tired of holding a yard sale and I'm glad the truck was too loaded to sneak more into while I was pulling out.  

Before the big score(?) I bought bearing balls at one of the two commercial bearing suppliers in Anchorage. Bearing Engineering or Driveline Specialties. Grainger in Anchorage also sells loose bearing balls by the lb. or package for the smaller ones. 

They aren't hard to come by unless you only want one or two. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Nice anvil. I like double horn anvils and prefer them to the London pattern. 

My suggestion is to strip the paint from the sides. A brush and some lacquer thinner will get rid of old paint quick smart. you can then finish it off with a wire brush, eliminating all rust, and coat with automatic transmission fluid applied with a rug. 

You are likely to find a lot of chisel and punch marks on the sides the result of a blacksmith's bad habit of testing the temper of the tools he makes on the anvil. 

Grinding the sides to eliminate this is as bad an idea, as it was to make those marks. 

Now you need a stand, a few hammers and tongs, a forge ... and ideas of what to forge next. :)


Since you already bought the anvil, a rebound test is academic at best before purchase. After purchase ... well, in my opinion is a waste of time and will not change what you already have.

Find a forge, heat up some steel and give your hammer skills a go. 


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  • 1 month later...

Got myself a 1" bearing and hit 10 3/4" rebound from 12" in the middle not as bouncy at the ends but I assume that's true for most and is to be expected? More weight in the middle. 

No closer on her history but I guess it's rude to ask a lady's age... :)

Oh and I made myself some BBQ tongues from 1/8th round with a claw hammer and a plumbers torch! Rough but effective! More to come methinks! 

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Loved the typo, "BBQ Tongues"---sounds painful!  (My wife is the oldest of 12 kids whose father was a butcher and so they ate a lot of stuff the store couldn't sell---our kids learned early on NOT to look into any big pots cooking on the stove as things might be looking back!)

90% bounce is excellent---we usually drop from 10" as then the bounce can be read directly as a percentage and you don't have to use a calculator to get 10.75/12= .8958333333333

Yes bounce decreases over the heel and towards the horn where there is not steel/iron all the way down.

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Thanks for assuming typo, :lol:. We used to cook half pig heads, makes a great stock. The dog loved it too! 

Just tried to spell it properly and autocorrect on my phone is coming into play... More tongues to come, lol

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