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Is this 160# fisher anvil worth the asking price?


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First of all I’m new to blacksmithing and I’m new to this forum. Thanks for having me. I’ve been planning on getting a forge and all the tools to get started smithing for quite some time now and one thing I underestimated more than anything was the price of an anvil. I can see that this anvil doesn’t have the best edges and it has a good ding or chip in the face. It also looks like it might have a couple spots where someone filled a couple dents. It might just be the picture. I’m going to message him tomorrow to verify and maybe haggle. I know fisher makes good anvils and if it was more perfect I would probably pay the price. But if you guys think The amount of damage on this anvil will make me regret buying it then then I’m just going to buy a new NC anvil for the same price or slightly cheaper. I know an NC anvil isn’t the best but at this point I want to get started forging knives and tomahawks and I wanted you to know if it’s not this than it’s an NC.

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I would not buy it myself. The edges looked to have been welded on and it appears the heel is broken off as there is no hardy or pritchel hole. Just my take on it. Someone with more knowledge than me will chime in I'm sure.

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You do realize that the price of an anvil is the cost of a heavy piece of scrap steel right?  (At my local scrap yard that's 20 UScents a pound.) The London pattern anvil design is around 300 years old, a large block of metal has been used for anvils for 3000 years!  Take a look at what Japanese swordsmiths use as an anvil  (National Geographic's "Living Treasures of Japan" has a section on a master sword smith and can be found on the Y'tube.)  Seeing the work they do on a "block" anvil explain why you think you need a London Pattern anvil that costs so much!

If we knew which of the 100+ countries that participate here on the World Wide Web we might be able to make some suggestions as to where to look.

I would start by going over 

And keep in mind that these ARE anvils; just not London Pattern anvils.

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Not knowing where in the world you are located or how much the seller wants for it, advice is hard to give.  If it weighs 160# missing the heel and the seller will haggle, I might consider it for $2.00 per pound U.S.

The edges don't look that bad (sharp edges are a detriment to good work) and if the face passes the rebound test so the face plate is sound (not de-laminating) (with a Fisher there is no ring) it would make a good starter anvil.

BTW: welcome aboard... I always suggest reading the Read This First thread up in the blue banner. It is full of tips like editing your profile to show location and many others that help with getting the best out of IFI.

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Ya he messaged back and said it was 192 pounds and now it’s 160. So it is missing the heel. 

Sorry I never noticed the read this first link when getting started. I’m located in snohomish Washington which is just outside of Seattle. Also the price of the anvil was in the pictures he wants $390 for it. I will make the edits.

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We knew that just by looking at it.  Pesky hard headed road runners!   

The reason most folks want a London Pattern anvil is to have the Hardy Hole, Pritchel hole and horn as well as the face; so that one is missing about 1/2 the "features".  How important they are to you is your call.

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I've been using a 185lb (213lb originally) anvil broken at the heel weld for close to two years now. It's usually not very limiting in what I can do, but it is fairly often some sort of an inconvenience. Overall I'm very happy with buying it, however I only paid $125. Where I live I would not pay $390 for that anvil, but I don't know what prices are considered normal where you are.

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I have a heeless anvil too.  It's about 125# now and I paid US$40 for it to a farrier at a fleamarket back when "good anvils" were inching over $1 a pound.  Such anvils may show other signs of abuse when examined closely; so definitely inspect before buying!

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Lol I didn’t know heeless anvils were so common. Well maybe I can get him to come to his senses and talk him way down in price. If it passes a bearing drop test it would still be nice to have a decent size anvil that doesn’t make as much noise. But only if he comes way down on the price like less than half. I doubt that will happen though.

Here is the NC anvil I’m looking at. It’s $335 but who knows what it costs to ship. I haven’t got that far yet. I’m just having a hard time finding anvils in my area and at this point I’m close to using a piece of Railroad rail. I have a feeling I will be happier with the NC than the RxR. There is more anvils in eastern Washington where there is more farms but I’m not going to drive 3 or 4 hours to look at an anvil.

Anvil KM.jpg

 

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You would be happier with a big chunk of steel than the RR rail. Some places used to sell 4-5" square stock as "knifemaker's anvils" to be used vertically.  Drops from a machine shop would work well.  Most of the world does not use the London Pattern anvil; don't get hung up on it!

Have you looked at the NIMBA anvils?  Good example of a different pattern.

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A year ago I was working in a machine shop. I wish I would have thought about it back then. But I do like the idea of being able to use hardy tools. I’m not arguing with you about saving some money and going simple though. I just don’t have anything heavy, flat, and made of steel laying around. I’ve asked everyone I know to keep their eye out for something and I’ve been watching craigslist and OfferUp for something. I don’t know maybe it’s the whole covid thing that’s making it hard to buy things right now. Seattle is a crazy place right now.

I will check out the nimba anvils right now. Thanks for the tip.

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Ok I looked At the nimbas and now I get what you’re trying to tell me. But I was never stuck on the London pattern. That just happened to be the 2 anvils I was choosing from. I don’t care if the pattern looks like a nimba or a London style but the nimba is $900 for a 120 pound anvil. I’m looking for an anvil in any pattern that’s no more than $400 and something with a hardy and pritchel hole. The NC just happened to be the only thing that checked those boxes without having a broken heel and being covered in weld fillings lol.

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475414831_cuttingplate(2).jpg.e475fb4edaa696c55c104e3bdbfec593.jpg 

50 pound chunk of steel with 2 1" sq holes in it---tops are rounded though, probably from a dozer: US$10

Other steel from the scrapyard with sq holes:

1227779122_improvisedHardyHoles(2).jpg.dba44452df67019c345305111efd6235.jpg

Why does wanting to use hardy tooling mean you need an expensive commercial anvil?  (And we have not even discussed holding hardy tooling in a postvise yet!)

 

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I’m definitely trying to find an alternative. The only thing I haven’t done is gone to a scrapyard. I just need to find one that lets you walk around and buy things. The only scrapyard Ive been to I didn’t think they let you do that.

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That's where getting to know the local smiths help.  Of course some folks want to hide their sources from others; but a lot of us freely share---shoot when we had the ABANA Affiliate meeting at my shop, I took anyone who wanted over to my favorite scrapyard after the demo.

Remember that places like heavy machinery repair often have lots of heavy scrap around---bulldozers are pretty much built from improvised anvils!

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My two cents isn't in opposition of those that are trying to encourage you to use something other than an anvil, but I don't know anyone who is happier with a piece of scrap steel than with their anvil.  Sure, there are people out there doing great work on things other than anvils and yes the London pattern is relatively new as far as anvils go but I think most guys starting out will be happier with a London pattern anvil.  Most smiths I know say the same thing, that they started out with a piece of railroad track or a cheap Harbor Freight anvil but now they have a London pattern anvil.  

My advice would be to get a London pattern anvil that you can afford.  Don't be in a hurry to find the first one out there, but take time to look.  It took me a year to find my first anvil and it was worth the weight.  I was using an old cast iron anvil borrowed from my Dad, but I learned a lot using the horn, hardy and pritchel holes.  I think your money will stretch further buying an old anvil.  A few years ago I paid $1.29 a pound for my first anvil and it cost $300.  When new smiths get all excited they end up buying junk they are not happy with in a few years.  If you can't find an old one for what you have saved, keep looking and keep saving more money.  You might just have $400 before you know it which should buy a decent old anvil of good weight.  

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Turns out there’s a weld shop about a mile from my house. I got this 30 pound chunk of steel for $20. It will hold me off while I look for something better. This way when my forge shows up next week I won’t feel rushed to find an anvil and end up spending way too much money on the first pos anvil I find. I have to figure out a way to mount it to something and maybe a stand of some sort but it should do for now. Thanks for the advice from everyone I appreciate it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just an update in case anyone is interested. I never ended up using the steel plate. Someone on Craigslist had a piece of RxR For $20 and they delivered it to my house. So I went with that. Btw I wasn’t the one that did the grinder work to it. I’m still on the hunt for something with a little more mass but it will work for now.

As for the fisher anvil... I tried to negotiate a little bit better price and he pretty much told me to F off and instead of coming down on the price he changed the price on his ad from $390 to $450.

Anyways here’s a picture of what I have set up for now and how I set it up. Plus a picture of my first project... a set of tongs that I’m making without any tongs to use. They still need a little more work bending into shape but they’re close for as far as my skill will get me for now. I wanted to use a chisel to put a groove into the surface that holds the material but I can’t quite get it without an extra hand. If I put the chisel in a vise and put the tong jaw on top of it I start to feel uncomfortable like I won’t keep it center. With everything upside down and not being able to see if I’m center it doesn’t feel right. It might help if I kept my jaws a little more square when forging. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it with practice though.

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Good to see you got going on your journey! It's *mostly* downhill from there!

I'm glad you found a section of rail you can use rather that working with that guy who was obviously just trying to make a buck, many people have done the same with good results. However, to get the best results out of you track, you will want to mount that piece vertically rather than horizontally like you have it. The extra mass under your hammer will make it much more efficient than it is in it's current state. You can also grind in features like a fuller or a cut off tool into the web or the feet of the rail Making it a multi-purpose anvil, which can be nice. No need to buy anything to do this, just take the stand you have and remove some of those pieces of wood you used to make your stand wide enough, and cut them to now make the working surface of the anvil tall enough. I realize that is poorly described, but Jealdi does something similar to what I am describing and posts a picture here.

Tongs are a tough project for a beginner. Heck, they can be tough in general. But sometimes it is necessary to have a pair or two... or 20... laying around to hold things. My suggestion is to work with a piece of stock that is long enough for you to hold the cool end while you work the hot end. If you really need to hold something, a pair of vice grips are going to give you a much better grip than any flat jaw tong. They were actually made by a blacksmith for this purpose. 

If you really want to make your own tongs, rebar will work, but it's not going to be the best starting material. In my experience, rebar tends to split apart more readily than mild steel which can be very frustrating. It always happens right where you don't want it to. There is a also a lot of variation between not only different pieces of rebar, but even within different sections of the same piece. I generally avoid forging things out of rebar as I found I was fighting with with the material itself more than necessary. 

That being said if you're going to use it, you may want to forge the reigns round or hexagonal, so they feel a little nicer in your hand. You may also want to watch a few videos (JLPservicesinc, who you will see often on the forum, has a great video on making flat tongs with very few tools) or talk with someone that is more experienced (I know the latter is more challenging now given the current situation) about the process(es) for making your boss. The reason most tongs have a similar boss design is because it gives you the strength you need where you need it most. 

I'm really not trying to be critical, I think experimenting is one of the best ways to learn. I'm just offering my 2 cents, so take it for what it's worth to you.

Finally, when using your top tools, your anvil should be set pretty close to a height where you can hold the end of your stock between your thighs. That way you have both hands free to hold and hammer comfortably. There are a few names for this technique, but it is very common among smiths in need of an extra hand.

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Thanks for the tips. I did do some research before I realized a piece of rail is an option and I did find that some people suggest to mount it vertically to get more mass under the hammer. But at this point I spent so much time going back and forth on what to get for a stand and how to mount things I probably spent a week thinking about it and hesitating to commit to one set up of the other. So I just said screw it I want to freaking hammer something. No more thinking about it. I need to throw something together. So I bolted it down and went for it. Plus to me it felt more comfortable having more surface area under my material for now. Maybe I will switch it in the future. But I still plan on getting something better for an anvil.

Also, I know rebar isn’t the best material. But concrete crews leave it laying all over the job site so it was something free to practice on. I did find a salvage yard by my house and I bought a few different kinds of material to try making tongs out of. Some 1/4” x 1” flat stock mild steel is what I have to make my next set out of. I ended up using the rebar first because of it being the worst option. I wouldn’t care if I messed up. I didn’t want to waste my better material because I didn’t know what I was doing yet. Also because it was my longest pieces of material I was able to keep my hands far enough from the heat. After watching multiple YouTube videos I wasn’t too confident I would be able to remember all the steps of the process when I go to do it. So I figured I would try first on the rebar and see if I can even remember the steps laid out in the video. I figured somewhere along the way I would probably learn by mistake, throw them out, and move on to the better material when I have it figured out.

I know they still look like flat jaw tongs but I was going for something close to a v bit or wolf jaw type of tong. I haven’t finished yet. I plan to shape the jaw more tomorrow and give it more of a groove with a chisel or a piece of square stock so it can hold everything a flat jaw can plus some round stock or square stock by the corners maybe depending on how much range they have. I didn’t want to spend $50 on a set of tongs knowing I would need more than one. So I figured I might as well try making them. I found a railroad spike one day while walking the beach not far from the railroad and I wanted to forge something out of it so I need something to hold it but vise grips of channel locks won’t do the job without burning myself. 
 

I tried holding them between my legs but when it’s flat on my anvil the angle of the jaw points the reigns towards my chest. I had a hard time getting the jaw more parallel with the reigns but also inset enough for both jaws to be touching. After holding the two pieces together at the bosses and sliding them around to figure out what direction things need to go I realized that I’m pretty sure if the boss was further forward closer to the jaws I wouldn’t have this problem so much. Tomorrow I’m going to try making some more adjustments before I pin them together.

I will look for JLPservicesinc’s videos. Thanks again for the advice.

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