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Repairing the face of an anvil.


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Hello everyone! I'm trying to get started in blacksmithing and inherited an anvil from my grandfather. However, the face of the anvil is heavily mushroomed and partially cracked on one side. My question is simple, is this repairable? I do not have welding skills but I do have grinders to resurface it. If it is repairable what steps would you recommend?

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Yes it is repairable with the Gunther/Schuler method followed *EXACTLY*  which unfortunately  requires a lot of skilled welding.  I'd suggest finding an ABANA Affiliate that's having an anvil repair day; except that I have no idea if you are even in the USA where ABANA is! The hardened steel face is quite thin on an anvil; grinding on it would be like my wife saying her diamond ring is dirty and having me take it to the shop to grind 1/8" off it to clean it up!

Going forward I would source an improvised anvil and get to smithing and save that one for it's horn and hardy hole and perhaps to find someone to repair it in the future---I've seen a large number of anvils damaged worse because they were "repaired" by people who might have been excellent welders but knew squat about anvils and how they were constructed!

Note if you use your browser to search on:    anvil repair site:iforgeiron.com     over 1700 specific hits show up and go into it in great depth.

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Normally when people are asking about repairing an anvil it is in usable shape and trying to "repair" or grind on it would do more damage than just using it as is. This old one Is pretty beat. Not to say it couldn't be used as is.

Just grinding won't help. These anvils have a wroughtiron body with just a steel faceplate, which in your anvils case is heavily mushroomed and even delaminating. So grinding it down will only remove what's left of the steel and leave you with wroughtiron which will just continue to mushroom as you forge on it. 

Here are a couple posts about the Robb Gunther process of anvil repair which might be the way to go on this one. 

 

 

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I've taken anvils to two ABANA Affiliate repair days one in Ohio and one in New Mexico about a decade apart.  I'd start talking with the ones near you and see if they have one planned!

BTW you can post your location in *every* post you make; because we won't remember it and some folks won't see it here; or you can add it to your profile one time and it will show up under your name. Please don't be too specific; take a look at mine for instance.  We have folks from over 100 different countries on these forums and so what's a great suggestion in Australia may not fly too well in Finland...

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There's nothing to say you couldn't make a stand for that anvil and forge on it. Just be aware where the delaminating area is and where the faceplate is gone and avoid those areas. 

As thomas mentioned you could find and use an improvised anvil until or if you get that one repaired correctly. Even use both for different uses. There is a thread about different improvised anvils on here to get you an idea of what can be used. It doesn't have to be a London pattern anvil to forge hot steel on. 

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Daswulf - thanks for the info. I plan on looking to see if there is somewhere to get it repaired. I certainly don't want to throw it out given the cost of a new anvil. As a beginner, a perfectly smooth anvil certainly isn't required as you have stated.

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While it can be repaired if done correctly it might cost as much as a new anvil. Personally I'd hate to see that old workhorse repaired, it deserves a place on display, maybe a museum. That's me though.

Check out the improvised anvil section for some terrific ideas. An anvil only needs to be heavy and hard enough you can beat hot steel on without it jumping around or denting. Horns aren't as useful as many think, there are alternatives that work well. 

All you need for now is hard and heavy with some smooth flat space a little larger than your hammer to get to building your skills.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Here is a primer for improvised anvils. We paid $35 for it at a club meeting and it weighs 110 pounds. If you have a scrap yard or heavy equipment repair shop near you, bulldozers are made of anvils. I think this was a counter weight off of one. Like others have said you could use the horn and hardy hole from yours and cherish it as a family heirloom.

BTW: Welcome to the insanity.:)

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That one the holes are round all the way through but it wasn't hard to make a bick for it though. I put several weld beads on the sucker rod and drove it in for a very tight fit which works very well for light work. Of course we have three London pattern anvils, so a full size horn and Hardy holes are no problem.

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Those holes are called runner or blade bolt holes. Runner bolts lay flush with the surface, the square section allows a nut to be from the back side. Finding them with 1" square sockets would make a sweet hardy hole. Good score Thomas, must be nice to know an insider at the scrap yard. Or be a TPAAAT master. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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tmarkley:  I'd keep it as is and use it as a horn and as a hardie base.  You can use a file to dress up the hardie hole to accept standard size hardie tools.  If I were you I would occasionally hit some small hot metal on it to honor all the work it did for your grandfather and all the work he did on it.  As suggested I'd get an improvised anvil such as a piece of RR rail mounted vertically or something like the illustrated bulldozer weight and then start hitting iron.  Keep the old timer in your shop as a conversation piece and maybe hang a picture of your grandfather over it.

DO NOT grind on it!

Keep us informed on your smithing progress.  We love pictures.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Another thought passed my mind. Anvils tend to attract others, so start off as is, and or, or get an improvised anvil, and get started. Another anvil might find You. Never hurts to get word out and mention forging and anvils to EVERYONE you talk to. Never know who has tools tucked away that need a good home. 

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George- thanks for your opinion. I think I'll just go with everyones recommendation to go with an improvised anvil and see if I can find a decent used one as I get further into it.  I'm going to look into the book now. This anvil has certainly seen it's uses. Excited to get into this!

Daswulf- I'll keep that in mind. I've seen a lot of people using I-beam improvised anvils. Do you think those are heavy enough or would you recommend something thicker?

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That would depend on how thick the metal is on end. I would not recommend using I beam on the flat for any heavy forging. It is loud and inefficient with little to no mass under it. At best i might consider it ok for straightening on as a flat surface. 

I actually have a thick, heavy chunk of I beam that early off I tried as an anvil but it really was just loud and inefficient. It has been repurposed to a different type of use. But still could be useful if I needed it for forming. 

A sledgehammer head sunk in a stump would be better. Note that in the improvised anvil section most if not all of the improvised anvils, the goal is to have something atleast as big or bigger than the hammer you are hitting with, and mass under that. Then it needs to be steel that will hold up to some hammering (unlike wroughtiron or castiron.) So that is why you'll generally see rr rail being used on end. It can be used horizontally but it will be less efficient for heavier hammering. 

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Daswulf- I'm thinking of getting a used anvil as an investment. I'm currently looking at a Soderfors 88# for around $500 in good condition. In your opinion do you think an 88# is a good starting point? Or should I go heavier?

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I own a Soderfors and I will say they are wonderful anvils. As far as the weight goes, that depends on the sort of things you plan to make. 88#s is a little light for heavy work. However, if you make a nice heavy, rigid stand for it I'm sure that will work well for you for a long time before you really "need" to size up.

While ~$5.70/lb isn't unheard of, if you can talk him down to closer to $4/lb I'd say you got a good, perhaps even a great deal. Of course that is assuming the anvil is in good condition and passes the ring and rebound test.

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What makes a chunk of steel an improvised anvil is the amount of steel between the face and the base directly under the hammer.

So an I beam with 1/2" thick flanges has 1" of steel between face and base; but really 1/2 as it's floating on air.  A good sledge hammer head mounted in a stump has 5-6".  I've seen lots of I beam ASOs sold as anvils because people that that the shape of a london patternoid anvil is important when it's really not; its the compact mass that counts.  Sort of like people cutting out a car shape in plywood with no engine or transmission and selling it as a car! Yes it sort of looks like one but sure won't work like one!

 

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My first anvil was a cylinder of hardened steel I freed from some large piece of equipment I found at the scrapyard. It was 2.5 maybe 3" in diameter and made a great post anvil for the first 8 or so months I was forging. I beat that thing up quite a bit, chipping off a lot of the edge with missed strikes while I was learning some semblance of hammer control. Fortunately, it cost me $14 so beating it up a little bit didn't bother me much.

There's nothing wrong with finding a London pattern anvil when you're starting out. But while you're learning, having a piece of steel to beat on has more benefits than just the low entry cost. It helps you to preserve your precious anvil from, well... yourself :D

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It also

1 minute ago, Frazer said:

having a piece of steel to beat on has more benefits than just the low entry cost

It also gets you actually forging which in my case seemed to be the biggest hurdle. I wasted a lot of time worrying about things that with a little research in the right place (IFI) I figured out how little I actually needed to get going. 

Pnut

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