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I Forge Iron

Anvils and AFC 2008

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I just wanted to let everyone know the 2008 AFC at Tannehill was GREAT!!! It was the best money I have ever spent on any classes anywhere. I took some blacksmithin classes and learned alot from the teachers. Got myself a bunch of good forging steel, a bunch of old hasps and files, some 5160 steel "I believe thats what it is", a very old thick fire pot, and a hammer made by some guy named Bill Pinera? I was told he has passed away but he was very well known in the blacksmithin community, and also 500lbs of coal!!! I cant wait to try out these things I learned, but I gotta find myself a anvil. Now I have read a ton about them and looked at every picture on here about Trentons, Arm and Hammers,etc... But what do you guys recommend for someone whos wanting to make knives, and wall hooks, candle holders. Inotice the weights differ and also I was told to stay away from cast Iron anvils, because of the rebound and over all quality. Also where in Alabama or Georgia or Tenn can I find myself on, Thanks for all the advise and I really appreciate everyone helping me, If their is ever anything I can do to help you guys here in Ala, please ask I will do my best,Godbless,Charlie Edmondson

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Hi Charlie,
First off, welcome to IFI - you came to the right place.

I think you asked a pretty difficult question to nail down Charlie. I'm willing to bet that you're going to get a whole wack of different answers because different people will have different ideas on what a good starter anvil is - and there is so much to consider.

It sounds like you want to do a wide range of smithing - everything from simple hooks to bladesmithing, but there are other things a person has to consider, like...
-how much money are you willing to spend?
-how much space do you have for forging?
-do you want to be able to move your anvil easily (like taking it to demos)
and lots of other things.

To be honest, the main concern for me in buying anvils is cost. Anvils can be really expensive - but if you're planning on making a paying career out of smithing, then you could look at the cost as a long term investment that you will eventually payoff (like a car). But if this is just a neat hobby, then you may find you have a more restricted budget. For me smithing is a hobby - I'm crazy about it but it will never be a breadwinner for me so I can't justify to myself to drop $400+ dollars on a big anvil (I'm talking only between 200-300lbs and that's if I look really hard and haggle like a fiend).

For what I do, I find a 100lb anvil works just fine for me, and it is still portable enough to take to demos where I can move it without help. From experience, most of the anvils I've run across at auctions and trade-ins seem to run in the 100-180lb category and sometimes you can find a really reasonable price - some smiths on here have even said they have picked up anvils for free. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

But there are a lot of smiths on this site who started off smithing on a chunk of rail and have made that work for them - or other examples of big and heavy chunks of steel.

As far as what the anvil is made of -cast iron or cast steel - my opinion is if you find an anvil has dropped into your lap, who cares what it's made of. If the price is right - run with it and start hammering. There is always later to get better toys. The important thing is that you start getting some experience under your hammer (I'm assuming that you are new to smithing, if you're not new please forgive my assumption but I'm writing this with the newbie in mind).

So to sum it up, for all these reasons I think a 100-120lb anvil is a good place to start. You can always go bigger later, but I think this size is a reasonably good average for most work. It has a decent amount of mass and are reasonably easy to find and are reasonably affordable.

Sorry for rambling on, but I hope it helped a bit.


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hello Charlie , Aeneas was right , everyone has their own idea about what is the right anvil to start with . I will add my two cents worth.Firstly , you mentioned knife making and candle holders, those are two different animals . You can use just about anything to make a wall hook or a candle holder , however an anvil with a good clean face and no swayback will save alot of work as far as knife making is concerned . If you consider the cost of a new bass boat at 20+thousand or a new four wheeler at 8,000 dollars, 800 to 2000 dollars is cheap for an anvil that will last a lifetime . what I am saying is that if I were serious about blacksmithing I would buy a new high quality anvil. just my idea , good luck , Forgeman

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I figure that it will be many years before I can afford a new anvil, if ever, as this is only a hobby. So I went out to our local scrap yard and grabbed a pair of forklift forks and cut them to size and welded them together. I then added some plate steel to the bottom to create a base to set into my stand and now have a very heavy anvil that I don't have scales to weigh but doesn't move unless I hook up a hoist to it. The steel from the forks is high carbon steel of some type and has excellent hardness/toughness quality and if I mess it up I can just sand it flat again, the face is about 2.5'' thick so I will not have to worry about waring it out with my sander.
I probably would have just used a RR Track but couldn't find any and am glad I decided to use this instead now.

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