I just stopped by a surplus store here and saw three new anvils.
110lb and 165 lbs priced at about $1/lb
These anvils are obviously low quality.
They are all cast, the top surface is machined.
The horn and the whole body has rough sand casting marks, no machining.
No make, model or manufacturing marks. No country of origin.
The round hole is big and smooth.
The square hardy hole is not square or finished.
I'm assuming the top is not hardened.
Should I walk away or run away from them?
When you're in front of one, pick up a hunk of junk (hard) and *hit*
the anvil and see what happens. Does it ring and rebound? Does it make
a dent? That result is *everything*. Most cheap anvils are soft cast
iron and only an idiot would buy one unless you wanted it for a paperweight
because as soon as you hit it it will dent badly. But there are some anvils
now from Eastern Europe that are also cast, also ugly, also cheap, but they
are cast from quality tool steel and they are real decent little anvils.
That's about what a good old anvil goes for. It is a bargain
price for a new one.
A good old anvil may also be all cast, though the good ones
are cast steel, not cast iron. Others may have a cast steel top
welded onto a cast iron base. An all cast iron anvil isn't desirable,
an all cast steel one is, and a welded anvil may or may not be
Normal for an anvil of this size and class. Jeweler's anvils are often finished
to a high polish, but big working anvils rarely are. The face would have been
ground flat, but the rest of the anvil would be as cast.
That's a bit suspicious. Anvil makers who are proud of their product
usually cast in a logo.
These are typically punched during manufacture, so it
may not look finely finished. It should be pretty square
top and bottom, but there should be taper through the
Don't assume, test. You want a surface that is hard,
but not too hard. Light hammer blows shouldn't mark
it, but it shouldn't be so hard that the edges will chip.
Maybe, maybe not. Sounds like some of the
Chinese anvils that have been showing up.
They're not too bad. Could be east European
too, and they're generally quite good. But if
it is Indian or Pakistani, run, run away.
I'd ask questions to try to determine the origin
of the anvils (they had to arrive in some sort of
a crate which would have been labeled). I'd look
carefully at the pattern and proportions of the
anvils. That's often a good clue as to their point
of origin. I'd examine them to see if they are cast
steel or cast iron. I'd do a bounce test with a ball
As Grant said, "cast" does not necessarily mean "cast iron". Many
newly made anvils are made of solid cast tool steel. This doesn't mean
that the anvils you saw are any good, but maybe they aren't toooooo bad.
Depends upon what you want to do with them. I have an old cast iron
"doorstop" (that's what they call really beat-up anvils around here)
anvil that I use when I want to straighten re-rod cold or to do some
other job that I wouldn't do on a good anvil. Of course, $1 per pound
is a little high for that job.
An old blacksmith around here once said that we should never be
hitting the anvil with anything cold on it anyway. -----But what if you
I might add: Bring a good sharp file next time. Try filing some
mild steel and some cast iron at home, then try filing the edge of the
face. If it files with about the same ease as the mild steel and cast
iron do, leave it alone.
I surface grind anvil faces for people and can tell by the sparks
and the sound of the spindle about how hard the face is, but I wouldn't
suggest taking an angle grinder with you to spark test these.
If the pritchel and hardy hole is too poor for you, leave it alone.
If you can get them down to about $70 for the 110 pound anvil, that's
the same price as the Harbor Frieght "Russian cast steel" anvil (on
sale), well then, maybe it's worth a try. For that money, it can be used
to straighten re-rod after you've gained some time on it and can find a
Hope this helps some,
I went back to the surplus place and found a small ball peen hammer. I
couldnt find any ball bearings.
I held the end of the handle and let the head fall onto the anvil from
about 6 inchs up.
There was a nice little indent where the head hit.
I also took a closer look at the horn. It was not round on top. It looks
like they ran out of metal during the pour.
It was sort of heart shaped. There was a big valley running down the
middle of the top.
I chatted with the owner and he freely admitted that he gets this thing
cheap for folks that want
to pound horseshoes for their personal horses.
Thanks for all the help. I now know how to more quickly evaluate anvils.
Anyone near Flagstaff, Az with a good anvil for sale at a fair price,
please let me know.
It's only a couple hours south to Phoenix, why don't you run down to
the Harbor Freight store in N. Phoenix and buy a 110lb. Russian cast steel
anvil? Shouldn't cost you more than $75 out the door, plus some gas money.
That'll get you started, anyway. Once you get going you'll see anvils from
time to time.
Have you tried berry denton in skull vally? He imports anvals and leg vices
from all over the country. You can get his contact information from the
arizona artist blacksmith acco. web site.
I bought my post vise from that guy. Although it wasn't cheap, it is a
good solid 200# 6" post vise in fine shape, and I'm happy. Those aren't
*that* easy to find these days. I second the recommendation, but I don't
know anything about how to find him except to look for him selling on
He usually shoes up at the July demo at flag forge. it held on the 17 18 of
July. the directions are on the aaba web site. but if you would rather his
Barry Denton at bar U bar supply 928-442-3290
good luck jamie
I really want to know why folks on this group never mention Railroad
rail. The Weygers blacksmithing book tells you how to make one (the hard
way). I took a 3 foot piece and under cut one end with a cutting torch. I
took a side grinder to it to dress up the cut part. Needs this horn part
shaped but it gets the general idea. I found a guy who worked for a machine
shop to mill off the top 3/8 inch so I have a nice flat top on it. The
shops wanted a couple hundred bucks to do it and complained a lot about work
hardened rail but if you know somebody or have a mill then you're in
business. The guy who did it for me said it was much easier than expected.
Same story for the guy who torch cut the end for me.
As for usage, I love it and can beat it all day and not put a dent in
it. Weygers book shows you how to harden it but I don't see the point. I
haven't hurt this one yet. And all it cost me was some labor and a couple
of favors. I might add that this is an ideal anvil for makers of long
blades since you have all that flat to true up your work on.
If you get the right piece of it;) it sez right on it, the weight
per yard. The heaviest I ever worked with was "136 pound rail".
Or did you mean stout? :/
Drill holes in it and bolt it down to something heavy? ;)
Remove the base from a piece of rail (~1075) and weld or (blind
hole) bolt it to something heavy from the scrap yard?
The only real problem here is, it's stolen material, even if someone
gave it to you somewhere-sometime it was stolen. The only exception
I know of is when mining or logging operations sell rail. All that
AFAIK was the smaller (110 pound and smaller) even when used in
large open pit copper mines.
Alvin in AZ
On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 22:25:47 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:
it's hard to say which company layed the stretch of rail they were
taking out,, it was a Soo Line crew but they were taking out a section
of track that hadn't been used at all in over 50 years, and the old
roadbed was being tuned into a bike and snowmobile trail , Soo Line
seems to be the only line using, maintaining, or removing any of the
rails around town so when they gave it to me when I inquired about it
I figured they must have had the OK to do so,, they even loaded it
into my car trunk for me.
It's no big deal either way but for sure it wasn't theirs to give.
They also gave away someone else's (paid for;) labor too in the
process. BTDT myself. ;)
Knowing more of the story... that particular rail may be too crummy
to directly melt down and make new rail from so my guess is- it's
still higher value scrap steel than normal but not as good as the
That old rail was taken from the mainline somewhere sometime and put
in service in that branch line. You say it hadn't been used in 50
years... what's the year mark on your piece of rail? And heck,
while you're at it, what's the weight too? :)
BTW, did they call themselves a "crew"?
On the SP they were called "gangs".
Alvin in AZ
next time I get out to my buddy's farm I'll check the markings,, I do
all my pounding out there as this damn town has a noise ordinance
On Sat, 17 Jul 2004 15:52:57 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:
I was talking about stout but it don't move when I hit it with a 3 pound
hammer so it's plenty heavy for me. I would'nt want to move anything
heavier on a regular basis and in my little garage I have to to the shuffle
a lot. I take it into the back yard for real work.
thought about pounding some spikes into a stump so that I can slide it into
and out of place when I use it in the back yard. I built a sawhorse like
contraption out of angle iron to set it into though and it works pretty
well. It's all nice and portable.
Well I guess I can't argue that... At the time I picked it up the railroad
had just gone through and replaced a bunch of track and left pieces lying
all over the place. Didn't even consider that anybody would care. 'spose
nowadays folks can get pretty sticky about what's theirs though. I tried to
talk a road construction crew out of a piece of pipe end from an overpass
they had lying in a bunch of garbage and got told no. Would have made a
great forge chamber with some insulation, but I ended up making one out of
clay and perlite and I think I got the better end of the deal in the end.
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