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Lol, I'm the semi official- nay Sayer on putting your rr track vertical. 

Here's my reasons.

First let's look at flex. Your anvil layed flat will not flex, no matter what. Even if you mount it on each outer edge and minimize surface contact and your daily driver is a 16# double jack, it will not flex. For crying out loud, it's cross section is an I beam! Look at any contemporary plywood floor/roof joist( a piece of 3/4" plywood with a 1" square piece of pine top and bottom spanning large spans  advertised as no squeak/ no sag floors! Drive a train over it? Different situation, the property of the steel is certainly made to flex. 

Horizontal or vertical. Here's some points to consider. A few here will say that the horn was a late addition in anvil development. What did they have before that? A rather large often square flat surface pwrhaps a foot or so square depending on speciality. Did they have the same square footage as that lil bit of square on a vertical RR track? I can't imagine that. I have seen many pics of old medieval anvils etc. Will you find something similar in our contemporary time in India or Africa? I'm sure there is a youtube out there showing just that. We blacksmiths do what we can with what we got, sometimes and until we can upgrade.

Don't limit your flat surface/ face. Mount it horizontal, use your horn, and enjoy maximizing the flat surface that you will use most of the time.

This especially fits the KISS principal in your case. Somebody put a lot of work into making that horn. Why hide it? Use it!

 

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Funny I've seen a lot of medieval and earlier anvils with smaller than 1' sq faces,  Viking era ones could be quite small from the archaeological finds.  My 5" anvil is in the upper end of a lot of excavated ones. (Laying on it's side to show the spike that goes in the stump.)

Y1Kanvil2.jpg.117637409d78bb2828c4917a8c554d87.jpg

Now some larger ones did exist: "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies has some nice illuminations of smiths at work.

Need a horn?  A simple stake anvil is not that hard to make; just tedious if you don't have a striker or powerhammer. These are made from sledge hammer heads

757492304_stake_anvils(2).jpg.9a334dc35f364d8cf43e3c56e9529c08.jpg

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Sorry i haven't been on in awhile I have been trying to figure this out, and to be honest i thought people were done replying to this post. As i have said i have no mode of transportation except for a maximum of once a month . I have no bicycle, no friends (very important one there, since not many people believe me), no drivers licenses, and certainly not a car. You can just call me trace if you like, it is my name after all. when i said i am in a bad place for steel, the reason isn't due to seclusion or stuck up neighborhoods. The reason is that everywhere Is that I just don't live in a friendly neighborhood. As for the stand I am able to go to home depot today, so i am going to buy whatever material i can afford and figure it out from there (if something else happens to be figured out before hand i can likely get at least a partial refund by reselling it to my brother). Also in terms of the legs being under the anvil, they are. the legs are made of 2x6s and the top board stick up  above the base of the anvil slightly.

Edited by Tracemaster
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When I lived in the inner city; the alleyway behind my house was a bountiful source of steel.  Of course I had to store all my blacksmithing stuff in the basement and carry it up the rickety basement steps---including the anvil, to use it.  We had multiple vehicles stolen from our back yard, lawnmower, bicycles, etc; even an attempt to break into our house---while we were present!   Yet I scrounged and forged there for 15 years. (Amusingly the detached collapsing garage I used to forge in burned down a couple of months after we moved away...)

You seemed more focused on why you can't than how you can; so I don't think I can help you.

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Thomas thank you for trying, but can i ask how else you are supposed to find a solution when you don't even know the problem? People say i could scrounge for steel and materials, but how? I see your point that you did not live in god neighborhood either. My neighborhood isn't bad with crime per say. It's just full of hoarders and not nice people. Also it's illegal and enforced for me to raid alleyways here (ridiculous I know). I am not trying to be difficult. I have wanted to do black smithing for the last 5 years, I just don't want to sully the one chance I may have to do it.

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A sledgehammer head sunk in a stump and a jabod could have you forging by evening. Don't let perfect get in the way of good enough. I put off getting started for about two years trying to get everything "just right" and now I regret every second I wasted not just getting to it. 

Pnut

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Pnut, I just used up my one trip for awhile, I should be good to go, I  just got to figure out what the best I CAN do is with what I got today. I don't recognize your name I recently found this website,  and knew I was getting a trip to home depot sometime soon I just didn't know exactly when for awhile. Well it also happens we were going to my dad's who is getting rid of a bunch of his stuff (for reasons I would rather not discuss). So I also managed to get railroad spikes and some other odds and ends. The purpose behind this post and my other one was to try and prepare for this trip. Simply put "just getting into it" wasn't really an option for me if your curious as to why just read through my other replies  if you haven't already.

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I read through the threads. I was just saying I can empathize with you. I did a lot of preparing and research etc over the course of about two years. When I actually seen how little I really needed to do basic smithing I felt like I could have used that time a little better. 

  I understand what it's like not having a ride too. My car died last year and it took me about six or eight months to save up enough for another vehicle. 

Advice is great and definitely should be heeded if it comes from IFI but it's not the only or best way to go about whatever you're trying to accomplish in many cases because who knows your situation better than yourself? It's about what works for you at your location with your equipment. As they say though, "Two heads are better than one." There's been many times I've asked for advice here and was suggested a way of doing something that hadn't or wouldn't have ever occurred to me. 

I'm glad you got the supplies you needed and I can't wait to follow your progress. Good luck, be safe, and remember it's supposed to be fun. 

Pnut

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23 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Viking era ones could be quite small

Thanks for the clarification. Do note that I said 1' depending on speciality. 

The archaeological finds surrounding the Viking era are fascinating. Let's look at two significant ones. The buried chest with a complete setup including small anvil and the kilns made by Vikings to smelt bog iron into wrought on the Nova Scotia coast. Did you ever consider the connection between the two? Weather it's been stayed or not, what struck me about the chest of tools was that it is a blacksmith s sea chest of working tools. And when they got to Nova Scotia, they had a choice. Smelt wrought and forge from this parts for replacement and repair. Having spent 4 years in the Navy what's still strong in my mind is space limitations onboard a ship both on the Individual items and our shops tools and spare parts.. Something's never change.

I've never seen any finds on a viking village smithy. I would suspect the setup and tooling would be pretty similar to any shop in basically Europe at the same time.

Lets look at the progression of anvil design across time. Certainly it's gone from some sort of square block to what we have in working shops until basically the end of the era where our tooling was replaced by welders and grinders. What are these changes? From a basic block to the addition of a horn and a rectangular face to work on. Why did these changes come about. Part of the reason, in my opinion had to do with as we have progressed in the iron age there is more iron/steel per capita. This effectively lowers cost for iron. This enabled anvils to evolve to be able to do more functions by a smith. The primary changes were as stated above, a ~ 5" wide, 18" long table with a horn at one end and a hardy hole at the other. Pretty danged efficient setup for working iron. This is what happened. Please note the reason I gave is my own. I have no doubt that I can do far more with this contemporary setup than on a 5" stake iron, no matter how beautiful the the one you made.

This is my primary reason for not being a supporter of mounting a rr track in the vertical. Why limit the functions you can learn as a beginner by limiting the size of the table?  

I have two square hardy blocks. One for my 255# Trenton and one for my treadle hammer. Both are used and in my shop both are special use tools. I would never consider making a square stake anvil for my daily driver. So, I just cannot support encouraging new Smith's who already have a length of rr track to put it in the vertical and limit their potential learning.

One more thing to notice with today's industrial forgings, the anvils on those massive power hammers are square shaped.  ;) check out some of Tom Joyce's recent videos of him forging rather large pieces of iron with these contemporary hammers 

Just my opinion.

 

 

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Funny how examples of the "sq block" anvil can be found at least through the French and Indian war when the London pattern was beginning to take shape and variations of anvil designs were common. So it doesn't seem to have been superseded but other designs were used in parallel.   It's a viable anvil design for 3000+ years.   I think anvils shown in Renaissance paintings are often closer to the sq block than to the london pattern.   I tell people that the London Pattern anvil is the "swiss army knife" of anvils---lots of features that are handy in a single item; but  not the best for any *1* of them.  Like most multi tools throughout history, (Romans had some neat ones I saw at the Deutsches Klingen Museum in Solingen.)  Even the London pattern has varients with the squat thick wasted English versions and some of the elongated extremely thin waisted US versions---and Both have their uses.

Re Viking era anvils: Besides the use of rocks as anvils; perhaps for consolidating blooms of wrought iron, (we once used a stump and a wooden mallet to consolidate one very "juicy" bloom until it could be worked on an anvil without falling apart); you can find examples with micro horns; but no hardy holes. Note many early anvils show evidence of a LOT of mushrooming and that may have led to both horns and heels as smiths found how useful the overhang could be.

Check out the door carvings for the stave church at Hylestad  that deal with the forging of a sword.  A bit post viking but another good example.  Also going the other direction;  the Roman Museum at Bath England has an anvil in it. As well as gravestones depicting smith's shops.

By the "box of tools" are you thinking of the Mastermyr Find?  If so it is not associated with travel to the new world; but was on a boat if not a ship!

There are a number of viking smiths graves that have been excavated; I don't know how many were published in english though. (The 2014 find in Sogndalsdalen, Norway is fairly available though hard to find a good picture of the anvil.)

The Smithsonian Institution had a exhibition on "Vikings the North Atlantic Saga" a couple of decades ago. I was able to visit it during a business trip to McLean VA.  They had blacksmithing equipment as part of it. I don't know if any was included in the book that was published with the same name.

 

 

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Hey Trace,

 being in/near Cheyenne you should be able to scrounge up enough items to get started. It is big enough, and with the AFB next door there should be plenty of materials floating around. Pallets and shipping crates provide stands, and much more. Companies that deal in motorcycles and personal watercraft get some nice ones, but any place that has items trucked in will have pallets and crates. Just ask before taking. Where I work now there is a dumpster full of really heavy duty skids with 4x4s and 2x6s.  A quick search around my area on Facebook marketplace pulled up a few posts offering free wood. I also see free scrap metal often. It is $40 a ton here so for many it costs more to haul than what they get for it. metal can be found at auto repair shops, auto body shops, tractor and heavy equipment shops, rental yards, wrecking yards, and more.

 I was up in Burlington WY the beginning of July to get a 1956 Imperial, and there are some wide open areas in WY.  The yard where I bought the car was in one of these with neighbors far down the road. If this is your situation, try posting an ad on FB Marketplace, or Craigslist for what you need. They may even be able to deliver it for you.

Without more information about you, and your situation,  I can't help much more.  I don't know if I'm dealing with a 14 year old (like some we have had on here that went on to do great work) living in a city, out in DaBoonies, , or someone older with different capabilities. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/10/2020 at 12:14 PM, ThomasPowers said:

By the "box of tools" are you thinking of the Mastermyr Find?

Sorry I missed your response. That is what I was thinking of. And no I was not implying this particular "blacksmith sea chest" went to the new world, just that I felt it was most likely in a box that went on a ship no matter where it went. I've never seen any reference to this. I'm just putting together two bits of data. Iron was smelted in the new world and iron parts repaired or replaced, and this is a "box of tools", a Blacksmiths sea chest if you will. Thus, as in today's modern Navy, sailors of old had the ability to make iron repairs wherever they may land. In my shop our motto for the Navy was "300 years of tradition hampered by progress".  ;)

No doubt that early anvils were square. I don't think ive seen any references to refute this.

Not meaning this as an ego statement, but I've never had a serious interest in Renaissance anvils or anvils in general,,, however the Renaissance period is third in line of influence on my work. Art Noveau is first and Baroque is a tossup with Rocco for second. 

My personal journey with anvils is kinda a backwards engineered anvil from a farriers anvil(fat horn and a narrow face) to my basically London pattern . Most likely due to our English heritage and tools commonly used in the gold fields of the Rocky mountains. However I've transitioned from primarily using the horn to turn a shoe and levelling on the face near the step to rarely using the horn or the hardy hole to put tools in. I still level my iron in the same old place. I would not feel comfortable on a square anvil because I use the far edge for much of my  work and the wider face would be a hindrance due to my tong reins getting in the way. This, to me, is a major improvement! I use the hardy hole for a narrower face to work short pieces of steel more than for tooling. My primary hardy tool is my square block with a different radius on each edge.

Again no ego, but this is perhaps a difference between practical experience  learning vs book learning. Don't let this sound like I'm putting down books, nor your massive time at the forge. My library is pretty large. I've focused on books on techniques, art history styles, and books on the works of Smith's across time and their hand tools etc. I don't even have that contemporary book on anvils. Sorry, I can't remember the name. I've been tempted to get it a number of times,,, but then comes a new  book on,,,  I know how to make some pretty cool rennaisance leaves and scrolls and the hand tools needed, but I have no clue as to what anvil a rennaisance smith may have used.

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Diderot's Encyclopedia has a massive amount of info on tools used at the time; of course it's "Enlightenment".  For renaissance there is a number of paintings with titles like "Venus at the Forge of Vulcan"  that we "mine" for ideas on what they were using, especially for things like armour.

Having looked over the Mastermyr chest pretty carefully it is my belief that the chest itself was never originally intended to be a tool chest; it just ended up getting used as one.  The scrap items that were in it sure indicated a very wide range of skills and techniques used by the "owner".  Again perhaps more of a "frontier" type of smithing that "settled area specialist".

Going through the old books can be fun as you realize that the person who did the engravings or wood cuts may have made some real whoppers as they were NOT the person who had actually made or perhaps even used the items.   Making items and then making them work based from woodcuts can teach you a lot about how folks thought about them.  Example: I've worked on reproducing items from Scappi's portable kitchen and have learned to prototype them first as some of them *can't* work with the shapes/angles shown.

I think what I'd like to share is to be careful that we don't push our methods back on previous generations; as just because we do things one way may not be the way they did in previous times---especially when the basic materials may have changed over time---like real wrought iron vs bessemer steel.   Or in a woodworking book trying to reproduce furniture shown in paintings where they had one chair with a lot of curves and had done an intensive laminated glue up where the original would have been simply steam bent.

 

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A more contemporary example of what Thomas is talking about is "The Art Of Blacksmithing," by Bealer. Many of the things he says are incorrect, some weren't done THAT way, some couldn't have been and other things he says can't be done are actually easy. 

It's something we need to keep in mind any time we read accounts of: activities, history, etc.  The author does't necessarily have a clue about what he's putting to paper and like is so often shown you have to have a base of knowledge to filter good from bad. Of course there the outright mistakes. 

It's one of the things that make learning from books such an adventure. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thomas:  I'm reminded of a comment of my father-in-law's (who was a professor of Medieval History) regarding the illustration of a lion in a medieval manuscript, "It is obvious that the artist had seen a lion once but it was a long time ago and from a distance."   

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I don't know if this is the right place to post this, so please let me know if it is. I have made a couple of posts looking for advise on building forge and anvil stands and i finally got them built (after a lot more hassle than it should have been). Here they are, i built the anvil stand from scratch, but i wanted to start with the forge stand (since it was the one I knew I would need help with. However in the process of helping me the person that did got so frustrated they just went and bought me a tool stand from harbor freight. I have not mounted the anvil, as I am still deciding the best way and best location to do so.

Forge stand.jpg

anvil stand.jpg

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The way you have the anvil mounted is ok for light work. Turn it on end so the mass of the track is directly below the hammer (vertical) for a little better performance from the anvil.

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  • Mod30 changed the title to My forge and anvil stand

I was thinking about removing the angle iron you see on the forge since it seems like they would get in the way. I decided to mount is horizontally for, simplicity, mobility and cost efficiency. Smart thinking with the sheet metal, would aluminum work or does it have to be steel?

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Aluminum will work, it is a much better conductor of heat than steel is and will therefore char the wood below it much faster than steel (there is a reason why most heat sinks are made of aluminum), but it would still be better than nothing.  

Regarding horizontal vs vertical, I don't know why vertical mounting would be any more expensive or less mobile, but if you prefer to use it as is, it looks like it will work well enough.

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On 8/24/2020 at 3:59 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Making items and then making them work based from woodcuts can teach you a lot about how folks thought about them

My learning is not based only on books. Much is first hand. I spent a month in Prague in '87 thanks to ABANA working with a smith. The theme was "art history for the architectural blacksmith". It covered gothic to contemporary. The mornings were spent sightseeing a period, the afternoon we made a proper tool to make a representative detail from that particular period. Restoration work in Europe is very different  than here in the US. They have been preserving/restoring their work since shortly after the 9th century.  ;)

I'm pretty sure we made proper tooling to get proper details(leaf,scroll, etc). More contemporary books like Schmerlier(sp) are far better than diederot or even Bealer. And his tooling is very little different than what I learned in Prague.

After my month in Prague, and a week hiking the High Tatra mountains, I spent another week with two Smith's in Frankfort, Germany who were restoring two huge screens for the Frankfort cathedral. The church had them restored every hundred years. Theirs was the  9th or 10th restoration. The church, as you can imagine, was pretty strict on their restoration paramaters. So I'd say the tooling and techniques I learned and use to create a ren leaf or baroque scroll are proper for the job. Not saying there aren't variations, but most likely all variations are pretty similar. It's about as close as you can come in this day and age to learning first hand just how it was done "back in the day". Type of steel has no effect on this type of work wrought, mild steel etc. However the church specified a meturalogical certificate to make sure their screens wrought approached the original. Quite the task those two lads had. It was pretty fascinating to say the least. 

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I've been lucky enough to spend a day in the smithy with the Zamoranos in Toledo Spain back in the early '70's and later visited: Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the UK, Italy and Indonesia on various trips for times ranging from 90 days down to a week.  I did an impromptu demo on Pattern Welding with an 82 year old smith at the Freilicht Museum at Bad Windsheim. He had been a POW held in the USA during WWII and so his English was pretty good. Great smith but hadn't done any pattern welding and when I said I had brought a billet and flux with me just in case....One of my best memories from a 90 day business trip installing a duplexed computer database system for the telcom based near Frankfurt and Leipzig.  

Of course I wasn't travelling and learning as a professional smith; I envy your time spent working over there!

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