Need advice on buying an anvil

Dear Blacksmithing newsgroup subscribers,
I'm a newbie at blacksmithing, and I'm currently trying to acquire an
anvil for myself. I would appreciate your input in helping me choose
I am considering purchasing a Peter Wright for 800 dollars. It is a 202
pound anvil in rather good condition. You can see it here,
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--- Do you think this PW anvil is
overpriced? One gentleman in my previous thread said that "a buck a
pound is a bargain, three bucks a pound is pricey. Anywhere in between
is good." - 800 dollars means I'm paying close to 4 dollars a pound.
But maybe it is worth it, since this one has good edges and a good,
flat face?
The other alternative I am considering, is buying a new JHM 260 pound
"competitor" anvil for around the same price as the PW mentioned above.
Perhaps I should forget about the PW and just go with the JHM, since it
is 60 pounds heavier, and after all, I'm getting "more anvil for my
buck". The JHM, though, seems to be categorized mainly as a farrier
anvil, and that seems evident by the fact that the area from the waist
to the heel of the anvil is concave in shape.
However, the shape under the heel of your typical London pattern anvil
is not concave, it is straight. This makes me think that the JHM has
less structural support under its heel than a regular london pattern
anvil like the Peter Wright, and so may not be able to take the blow of
a sledge hammer as well as the typical London pattern. Is there any
merit in this theory of mine? Maybe it's irrelevant, since one would
not be hammering so heavily in the heel area of an anvil, anyway?
On the other hand, the face and body of the JHM is hardened, modern
steel, and will probably produce a better hammer rebound than the old
PW? Then again, the JHM is cast, and might be structurally inferior to
the PW's wrought iron construction? There's a lot of variables I'm
trying to weigh.
Another anvil I was considering buying, was the Peddinghaus forged
anvil, but I learned that those are no longer in production. I have
been looking around to buy one second-hand, but can't find one. I've
recently sent off my application and payment to join the California
Blacksmithing Association. What do you all think my chances are of
finding a Peddinghaus or Peter Wright in the classified ad section of
the CBA's magazine, "The California Blacksmith"? People who have
Peddinghas anvils are probably not in a hurry to sell them, right?
Maybe at the end of the day my best option is to go with the Peter
Wright, even if it is overpriced? I'm trying to get the best overall
quality and performance out of an anvil. What do you all think?

Raffi Aidiniantz
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My first anvil was a chunk of railroad rail. It served me well for years before I scrounged the one I currently have. You can make an anvil out of just about any large hunk of steel from the scrapyard. All that matters is that you tie the sucker down securely to a base that is stable. It really depends on what you intend to make on it. General purpose whacking can be done on anything. The Vikings used small anvils that were barely bigger than a modern sladgehammer head, and look at what they did with them. Heavier isn't necessarily better. If you gotta have a hardface, get some spring steel and heat treat it then weld it to a base made of structural steel. Rockwell 55 should be hard enough, most hammers are in the high forties range. Be innovative, steel is cheap and comes in great huge sizes for pennies a pound. You can spend time, or money. Usually spending time gets you something uniquely suited to your personal needs.
Reply to
Charly the Bastard
Oh... BTW, I ain't no gentleman, I work for a living.
Reply to
Charly the Bastard
Well, this is definitely something you can over think...
Don't get me wrong, Its nice to go for a good anvil, but I think you might be better off with a cheap Harbor Freight one for now. The Russian 110 lb anvils are about $90, and you should be able to pick them up locally. If not, I think freight is free for anything over $50. Any way, beat the snot out of it for a year, figure out what you're doing, and *then* get what you want. You might even come across a real bargain by then.
They are great to learn on -- if you put dents in it it's no big deal, just weld over it. It's a cheap anvil, so you don't have to worry about learning in it. Also, you'll have an extra anvil, which can be useful. It's not too much trouble to put a 110 pound anvil in the trunk of a car. I need a block and tackle to move my other anvil (at 465 pounds).
I have a HF anvil used it quite a bit, and ended up welding on it. I must have added about 20 pounds of metal to it... I didn't really need to, but I was taking a welding class, so I "upgraded" the anvil. 110 pounds is plenty for almost everything I do. Just make sure it's fastened to a good base. About the only drawback to these anvils is the beak is a little different, and they are also ugly anvils. But they work fine.
One other piece of advice, remember you're going to need a good post vice, too. I'd plan on spending about $200--$250 or so for a vice with 6" jaws. I just bought it at the CBA spring fling.
I've recently moved my forge inside, and I use an angle grinder a lot. I need to grind outside to keep from starting a fire and to control the grit. So I grind outside. It's really nice to have a second vice for outside to hold whatever I'm working on. You don't necessarily need a post vice for that, but it is nice.
Jeff P.
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I paid less than $2/# for a peter wright in pretty nice condition. It did take a lot of patience. (3 years) I'd recommend buying something more affordable, until experience teaches you what you really need or want.
Reply to
Jon Grimm
Anyone know the item number of this russian anvil at HF? I can't find it on their website.
Cheers! Duke
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I realize this thread is a bit old, but the russian anvil at harbor freight is not listed on the website. I have seen it at the store, and it needs some grinding to be servicable, stock, it is quite rough. I might recomend waiting until you get to a CBA or otherwise Hammer-In, I just got a 130lb Hay Budden anvil at one for $265. It was considerably messed up, although all the marks were shallow enough that it took a few hours of grinding to remove them. That anvil is my pride and joy. The PW you were looking at is priced as an antique, not a tool. You will generally find 3 kinds of prices on old blacksmithing equipment. Antique prices, which are far more than you want to pay, Tool prices, which are usually a fair price for a good tool, and the "ow I stubbed my toe on this damn thing in the basement" Prices, which are always the cheapest, from people who have one but dont want it or dont know about it, and will give it away or sell it for very little.
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