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Did I ruin this anvil?


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Hello everybody,

I had an old anvil rusting in my basement and I mindlessly decided to use a grinder + sandpaper flap disc and iron brush disc to remove some rust.

I understand now that this is not recommended as you may remove the hardened top and ruin the anvil beyond repair. Now, I grinded very lightly, yet in some points the shiny metal is exposed. Is there any way to tell if I messed up? Thanks.

anvil1.jpg

anvil2.jpg

anvil3.jpg

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Hello an welcome to the forum toxin!

That’s an interesting looking anvil you found  there, how much does it weigh? Have you done a ball bearing and ring test yet? 

X2 what Daswulf said, it doesn’t look like you really did any damage, but I wouldn’t do anymore,

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Thank you guys it's good to hear that I didn't do too much damage. For those sparse "shiny spots" you see in the pictures, should I assume that I took off the hardened metal there, or just the bluing?

Twistedwilllow, the anvil weights around 107 lbs (48,5 kgs). It belongs to my wife, until a couple of generations ago most families here (a hilly area in northern Italy) were involved to some extent in agricolture and farming, and brazier and anvil were quite standard household items used to fix livestock tools and the likes.

Unfortunately, the skill to use this equipment is usually lost. As for the tests, the anvil seems to ring fine to me, but I'm 100% unexperienced. I mean, it definetely doesn't ring dead.

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you didn't damage it at all. an anvil is just a tool. Historically absolutely fantastic work has been done on a block of iron we'd call a sledgehammer head. Your creativity and motivation is much more important than your anvil.

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Welcome aboard Toxin, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you'll have a better chance of connecting with members living within visiting distance.

You didn't remove THE hardened steel face, you just rubbed off a little bit. It can't be replaced but it wasn't enough to matter, you and it are just fine. Just don't grind anymore off, please.

A powered wire brush is fine, it'll remove rust and crud without removing enough metal to measure.

The blacksmith's craft has not been lost, in fact today there are more blacksmiths working than at any other time in human history. Blacksmithing is not everywhere as a trade, modern manufacturing has replaced it as THE industrial iron/steel working craft. However it is a very popular hobby and small scale business. 

In short we will be more than happy to help you get your kit set up and in operation then coach you through the process of learning the craft. Seriously, Iforgeiron has more than 50,000 in 150+ countries around the world. Many if not most practicing blacksmiths or learning, no matter your skill level you're in good company.

We'd like to see some close ups of your anvil. Lighting it from a low angle to one side makes textures much more visible, a flash reflects straight back so glare tends to blot out details.

We LOVE pics.:)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thank you all for your replies guys, I didn't expect such a warm welcome, I really appreciate it!

No more grinding, I promise. Maybe I'll use a powered wire brush in the future, but I think I'll stick to a hand wire brush for the moment or better yet I'll leave it alone :D

I've put my location in my profile as suggested and  Frosty  I'll try and take some better pictures next weekend (we spend weekdays in another town).

As for the blacksmith craft being lost, I didn't mean generally. I meant that it is lost as a family heritage in my area. It's not uncommon here that people still have an anvil (together with a couple scythes etc.) from their ancestors laying around in their basement but the skill to use these items has not been passed from a generation to the next anymore. My wife has recollections from her childhood (so in the early seventies) of her grandfather forging (as a farmer and livestock dealer, not a professional blacksmith) but not of her father, though he was quite a handy man before retirement.

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2 hours ago, toxin said:

Maybe I'll use a powered wire brush in the future, but I think I'll stick to a hand wire brush for the moment or better yet I'll leave it alone 

A powered wire brush is just fine, especially if there's paint to be removed. Just wear appropriate protective gear.

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A good safe way to polish up the face so it shines is to USE IT!  Forging hot steel on the face will take off any rust and polish it up---IF you do enough of it.  So wire brush any "loose" rust and forge off the adherent rust.

Around 100 pounds was very typical for "farm anvils" here in the USA, heavy enough to use and light enough to move out of the way when not using.  I'm trying to get all my travel anvils at that weight for when I go teach.

Sounds like now would be a good time to wander around asking people about smithing tools they would like to see put back in use!

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22 hours ago, JHCC said:

A powered wire brush is just fine, especially if there's paint to be removed. Just wear appropriate protective gear.

Oh ok. Actually I mainly used a wheel wire brush with the drill, and just a little bit of flap disc with the grinder at the beginning. That's probably why i did so little "damage".

  

20 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

A good safe way to polish up the face so it shines is to USE IT!

I'd really like to start. Must see what other gear I've got there. There's a hand crank blower forge but I'm afraid it's so rusty it wouldn't stand the heat? The brazier part looks very thin, almost sheet metal. There's a post vise that my wife's father used for his DIY projects and I understand now it might come from the same time. There's plenty of hammers too, maybe I'll post some pictures in the proper section asking for help to identify what's relevant - if any - and what's not.

20 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Around 100 pounds was very typical for "farm anvils" here in the USA, heavy enough to use and light enough to move out of the way when not using.

So farm blacksmithing was really a thing. I've also seen the textbook from 1901 in the download section, that's very interesting.

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I have Sears Roebuck catalog reprints from 1897, 1905, 1908 and all of them have Farm Blacksmithing kits for sale in them under the Slogan: "Every Farmer Their Own Smith"; so I'd say that at least in America it was really a thing!

At demos I have frequently had folk say that their father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. was a blacksmith.  When asked for details it often turns out that the ancestor was a farmer or a rancher who had a forge and anvil for repairing tools and machinery at home.  It is probably like the modern situation where nearly every farmer or rancher has a welder for similar repairs.

Whether you are a "blacksmith" or a "welder" because you own and use the tools is open to debate and discussion.

Randy, when comparing the price of things from the turn of the 20th century to today the US Department of Labor's inflation calculator says that $1.00 in 1913 (as far back as the calculator goes) is worth $27.63 in 2021.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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9 hours ago, Randy Griffin said:

What did those kits cost back in the day?

The 1902 catalog 112 by Sears Roebuck lists the Blacksmith kit for $45.00 U.S. it includes the forge, anvil, leg vise, post drill, 2 hammers, 2 tongs, 2 nippers, 2 anvil hardy tools, tap & die set, apron, drill bits and a bunch of other stuff.

The Farmers kit of blacksmith tools is listed at $25.00 U.S. and is a little lighter on contents but does include the forge, anvil, leg vise, post drill, a couple of hammers (cross peen and driving) one pair of tongs and one nipper, a smaller tap & die set and a hoof knife and scraper.

That catalog is available as a free download. Can't remember right off hand where but the BAM site has a lot of books as downloads. Just found the link.

https://archive.org/details/catalogueno11200sear

If you are interested in old catalogs, check here.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/66829-old-catalogs-related-to-blacksmithing/

 

Edited by Irondragon ForgeClay Works
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1905 Sears Roebuck catalog blacksmithing kits: $12.65, $22.50---"Farmers Kit", $41.20, $53.85

1908 Sears Roebuck catalog blacksmithing kits:  Acme $29.72, Eclipse $25.69, Kit $14.12, Vulcan $46.53, Master Workman $60.94

The difference in the kits tends to be size and quality of the equipment; rivet forges to shop forges, small anvils to larger, etc. The larger kits also have more in the way of tooling.

What I found more interesting is that Sears Roebuck sold ASOs as well as rebranded HB's and Trentons. Also you could order a new screw and screwbox for a postvise from the catalog; of course the cost was a good chunk of buying an entire post vise...

Note the prices---real numbers not .99!  Gives you the feeling that they are based on real costs doesn't it?

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3 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

1905 Sears Roebuck catalog blacksmithing kits: $12.65, $22.50---"Farmers Kit", $41.20, $53.85

$393.25, $699.46, $1,280.79, and $1,674.04 in 2021.

3 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

1908 Sears Roebuck catalog blacksmithing kits:  Acme $29.72, Eclipse $25.69, Kit $14.12, Vulcan $46.53, Master Workman $60.94

$883.74, $763.91, $419.87, $1,383.59, and $1,812.08 in 2021.

Interesting to note that while prices are much higher when adjusted for inflation, both of these dates were at times when anvils and other blacksmith gear were still very much in general use, before so many got melted down in WWII scrap metal drives. With changes in both supply and demand for smithing equipment, it would be interesting to calculate what a comparable setup would cost today.

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Wow, I have too much time on my hands.:D Seeing as the Blacksmith Kit items listed from the Sears & Roebuck catalog are new @$45.00.
I looked at a couple of web sites and came up with this comparable U.S. price for new stuff. There were prices both higher and lower so I took middle of the road price.

Emerson anvil 100 pound    $880.00                        $ 34.95 shipping
Coal forge                            $1747.00                       $34.95 shipping

Hammers (comparable)       $165.00 & $64.00
Leg vise                                $365.00                        $34.95 shipping
2 tongs $41.95 @                  $83.90
2 nippers$52.95@                 $105.90
2 anvil hardy tools  $60.00@ $120.00
Tap & Die set                         $89.99
Apron                                     $11.99

Post drill                                  $219.68


  Total                                     $3852.46            Shipping $104.85

 

Couldn't find a new price on the post drill. According to the inflation calculator a $7.95 post drill in the catalog would run $219.68 today. Which would bring the price to $3852.46

 

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An interesting object lesson in the difference between general inflation and inflation within a specific market sector. This demonstrates why the US Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks over a dozen different Consumer Price Indices for different kinds of goods and services (even though they don't have a CPI for blacksmithing equipment) rather than just one.

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