Used anvil!

I just love craigslist! Just drove 20miles to look at a 115lb anvil advertized for $125. I called a day after it was advertized and figured it would be sold. He said several had called and would not be able to come by to see it until after 4:00 pm. I asked if it had any markings on the side and he said no. I said I would be right over. When I arrived I checked the surface plate and other than a few nicks and chips on the edges, it was sound and the ring and recoil was great. I paid him the money and loaded into my Saturn sedan passenger's seat.

I stoped at a convenience store and noticed the letters TREN within a partial diamond and smiled. Must be clean living. I will spend the time to clean a portion of the plate to be able to forge my silverwork. I will post images when I get the time.

Fred


Rich Waugh's picture

Great score, Fred! A

Great score, Fred! A Trenton for about a buck a pound instead of the $4/lb they usually sell for. Do you even feel a tiny bit guilty? Naaaaaah!

Rich


Fred Zweig's picture

No guilt what-so-ever. I

No guilt what-so-ever. I paid the asking price.

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Jamie Santellano's picture

Awesome find...I was just

Awesome find...I was just thinking today that I need to invest in an anvil, but I don't want a new one. Any good tips on good used anvils??? A particular brand?

Thanks!

Jamie Santellano


visitor's picture

Looking for a used anvil....

Jamie,

I would spend a bit of time doing searches on what to look for in a good used anvil. I have found sites that specifically run down the points of a good anvil and what to be aware of when purchasing one. It is possible to find anvils in the $2/lb range though most tend to be higher. I was at the right place at the right time for mine.

I always carry a knife with me when I go searching for tools. A simple test on the steel to see if it I can cut off a sliver will tell me if the top plate is hardened or not. It is important that the anvil have a decent recoil when struck and if there is no ring it could be cracked.

Too much to discuss in a short post.

Check your local craigslist and search for anvil and see what comes up. Call or email immediately and go with the money even if it turns out to be a dud.

I have seen several listings for anvils on craigslist.

Hope this helps,
Fred


Rich Waugh's picture

Jamie, There are a few

Jamie, There are a few different types of anvil construction and they influence what you need to look for when reviewing a potential purchase. Anvils can be forged from wrought iron with a tool steel face forge-welded to them (most old English and American anvils), they can be cast iron with a tool steel face bonded during the casting process (Fisher anvils and Vulcan Arm&Hammer anvils), they can be one-piece cast steel, they can be cast iron.

There are a couple of other manufacturing methods that are used too, such as the Hay-Budden anvils with a cast steel top half and a wrought iron bottom half, welded at the waist, and others. Any anvil that is cast iron without a tool steel face plate is not worth owning, period. Unless you need a doorstop or small boat anchor, that is.

The Fisher anvils with a tool steel face cast onto a cast iron body are excellent anvils and have a great rebound and very hard face, but they do not ring when you strike them.  I like this feature as they are not as noisy, thus saving what little hearing I have left after decades of anvil use.  The Vulcan anvils are similar construction, but not nearly as well made as the Fishers.

An anvil with a tool steel face applied by forge welding to a wrought iron body, such as the Mousehole, Peter Wright and other popular old anvils, are very good anvils.  When you examine one you tap the face all  over with a hammer, listening to the "ring".  If you hit a spot with a dull sound, or if you hear any clicking, that anvil has a partially de-laminated face and should be avoided.

Cast steel anvils can be good or bad, depending on the quality of the casting, the model, and the heat treating. Test the rebound.  If the anvil has good rebound it is hard enough to hold up to forging.  Check the edges for signs of chipping - small chipping is normal to some degree, but large chipping can indicate an anvil that has been abused or is too hard.  Too hard is bad for a blacksmithing anvil, but may not be an issue for jewelry work since you'll not be using big hammers and massive blows.

One good way to test the hardness of an anvil face is to drop a ball bearing about 1" diameter onto it from a measured height and then measure how high it rebounds.  80-90% rebound is good.  Much less is too soft.  Even some nice-looking old English anvils with desirable names have been through shop fires (not uncommon in old shops) and have had the face temper destroyed.  So name alone is not enough to recommend an anvil - you have to check every one out personally.

Any anvil should not have very sharp corners on the face.  Those sharp corners will introduce cold shuts in forged work, which will later propagate as cracks in the work.  Corners should be radiused a little all around the face and usually the off-side face has a significant radius for the first few inches back from the horn.  Old anvils with sharp, un-dinged edges have usually been "repaired" by welding them, whiich is almost universally a bad practice.  It alters the face temper unevenly and can lead to later catastrophic failure.

The horns of most anvils are soft, not hardened tool steel.  The only exceptions are the cast steel anvils, where the whole anvil is tool steel but usually only the face is flame hardened or induction hardened.  On those, the horn is softer, but still harder than a wrought iron horn.  The Fisher cast iron/tool steel anvils mostly use a cap plate on the horn along with the face, so their horns are harder, too.

That's a brief run down on what to look for and some background on anvil construction to get you started.  If you have specific questions I'll be happy to answer them.

 

Rich


Fred Zweig's picture

Jamie, Rich has saved you a

Jamie,

Rich has saved you a bunch of time by giving you a rather complete guide. Check Craigslist daily.

Good luck,
Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Jamie Santellano's picture

Thank you Fred, and thank

Thank you Fred, and thank you Rich...that was a wealth of information that I think I will print out. I do want to be able to use the anvil for jewelry, and also for larger scale sculptures. I've been playing around the studio with some 4 gauge copper wire. I know copper is very soft and moves quite easily, but it would be so much easier to shape with an anvil instead of tapping it around a ring mandrel, and an anvil block...not the best of tools, but it works for what I'm doing. I'll post pictures when I'm done with the project.

Thanks again for all the information.

Jamie Santellano


visitor's picture

Jamie, If you get an a

Jamie,

If you get an a dinged face you will need to refinish it. I use an angle grinder and use it with a velcro wheel attachment that allows me to attach several grits of abrassive wheels. With time and patience I have been able to get a usable finish in relatively short time. 320 grit will leave an almost mirror finish. The wheels wear down quickly. It is also not necessary to polish the entire surface of the face. I concentrate on the area above the main body of the anvil. Good luck,

Fred


Jamie Santellano's picture

Thanks!Jamie Santellano

Thanks!Jamie Santellano


Fred Zweig's picture

Another anvil!

Don't get mad at me..... I just bought another anvil this afternoon for under a buck a lb. Another Trenton in rather excellent shape. I will resurface it and now I can sell the large unmarked anvil with a worn table.

Must be clean thoughts and good living.

Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Rich Waugh's picture

The clean living *may* have

The clean living *may* have something to do with it, but I've noticed over the years that ofter you get the first one, it seems to attract others like a cat in heat. Pretty soon you'll be stumbling over them...

Rich


Jamie Santellano's picture

uh oh...Jamie Santellano

uh oh...Jamie Santellano


Dick C's picture

Just as long as it doesn't

Just as long as it doesn't rain anvils.


Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

Anvils

Stephen Fitz-Gerald

One of my creative partners who is also a very knowledgeable blacksmith and has a huge tool collection is a great "horse trader". He's always got a couple of anvils coming and going amongst other things,(trip hammers,and tons of hand tools).If there's anybody in Northern California that needs an anvil I can connect you to him.He lives in Bodega.


Tim Pashuta's picture

Hey

Looking for an Anvil and i live in NC where is it your buddy lives?

-Tim


Rich Waugh's picture

Tim, You're responding to a

Tim,

You're responding to a thread that is three years old and the guy said he's in Northern California. I think you'd be better off checking with the NC-ABANA group to see who has one near you. At least they're in the same state.


visitor's picture

Rich, I do not want to

Rich,

I do not want to become a tool collector... I will liquidate the anvils I do not use to friends... I have two locations where anvils will be very useful.

I did acquire a great 10lb tinner's anvil that I will mount on a stump for everyday forging. This is the second one like this and I will mount it at a different height. I find it good to forge a little while standing and then sitting for a while to forge some more. A pity that I did not learn this when I was younger. I wear ear protection whenever I strike metal.

Fred


Rich Waugh's picture

Your approach to things

Your approach to things seems really sensible and practical to me, Fred. I wish I'd done a lot of things differently when I was younger - if I had I might be able to hear still and not have to take so many painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

Too soon we grow old, too late we grow samrt...

Rich


RayNTucson's picture

anvil story

So My story starts a little over three years ago when I started working at Tucson Country Club as the assistant superintendent. I found this old anvil behind the shop under a mesquite tree covered in dirt and sap. I cleaned it up and put it on a stump and found the remnants of an arm and hammer. I thought wow that's really cool. The building that is used for the golf maintenence dept. used to be a horse barn and has been there for at least 100 years. This thing has some cool history. It sat there unused for the three years that I was there just waiting for someone to put it to good use. I lost my job in Oct. of last year and I was able to work a trade with the Superintendent for some custom metalwork in exchange for the anvil and a sanblaster. Fair trade! So This cool anvil now sits in my shop where I get to touch it or hammer something on it whenever I want to. I just recently found numbers stamped on the foot that look like 3 6 91 . If anyone has the anvil bible and could tell me more about it that would be cool. It has a couple of dings in the top plate but is rings like a bell and the horn is in great shape too. These pics are right after I moved it into my shop. I have since made a really cool metal stand and oiled it up so it looks pretty.

Photobucket

Photobucket

99,44/100% pure luck .56% Pure talent!