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Anvil Question- Looking to Buy


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Hello all,

This is my first post, I am looking to purchase an Anvil but want to see what people think/know about the one I'm looking at. I have attached some pictures and would appreciate any feedback! The person selling it told me he believes it weighs 130 lbs and it says Sanderson Brothers and Sheffield on it. Additionally he is looking for around $300 for it and don't know if that is a good price or not.

 

Thanks!

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I'll let others ring in on that specific anvil but here are a couple good things to consider:

  1. Where it is plays a huge part in the price. There are a lot more used anvils in the mid-west and east coast than there are on the west coast and the prices reflect that.
  2. Generally a used but still in good condition, quality brand anvil is going for $2-3 per pound, brand new they are $5+.
  3. Don't worry about surface rust, or even a little sway in the face of the anvil. The things to worry about are chips, dents, cracks, and signs of repair (most repairs aren't done properly).
  4. Don't put any stock in an anvil's ring. It means nothing, unless you hear a buzz, then that indicates there is a crack.
  5. Take a hardened ball bearing with you (and I suggest a ruler/tape measure). Drop the bearing on the face and see/measure how much it bounces back. As far as I have read people generally like anything of at least an 80% rebound.

Interesting note: From what I have read elsewhere, that square hole in the bottom was used for a square rod to hold/handle the anvil during forging. I may be wrong, but if that is the cast it is a pretty cool thing (to me at least).

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Jerrod has some good points as usual. The hole in the bottom, and there should be one under the horn or heel as well, are called handling holes and were indeed used to manipulate the anvil during manufacture. I will add one thing to the ring test, though: Being that it's a steel-faced wrought iron anvil it should ring like a bell. As mentioned, a buzz or rattle means the face plate is loose. A dull thud means it went through a fire and lost its heat treatment. Both of these conditions are dealbreakers, because they are nigh impossible to fix without an industrial shop capable of either redoing the faceplate weld by forge-welding or heating the face up to 1450 degrees or so and quenching it fast enough to harden. The old Sheffield factories used a waterfall quench of several hundred gallons of water dumped on the face from a water tower.

 

Some specifics on this anvil are: Made in England, probably in the 1835-1870 period, wrought iron with steel face. I can't quite make out the last number in the weight marking. Those are the three numbers below the trademark across the waist of the anvil. I can see the 1 and the 0, but not the third one. These are in the hundredweight system in which the first number equals the number of hundredweight (112 lbs), the second number the number of quarter-hundredweights (28lbs) and the final number the remaining pounds. It looks like a 5 from here, which would give you 112 + 0 + 5 = 117. That third number can go from 1 to 27, so if it's a 15 it weighs 127 lbs and if it's 25 it weighs 137 lbs.

 

The one edge chipping is not a big deal. It does affect value, but not as much as you'd think. $300 is not bad, not great. It's about average.

 

Now then, some things to think about if you get it: DO NOT try to fix the chipped edges other than gently blending them in with a flap wheel on an angle grinder. The wrought iron body does not take kindly to electric welding, nor does the hand made shear steel faceplate. Welding, unless you know exactly what you are doing with hardened high carbon steel and wrought iron, will result in soft spots and possibly a separated face. Above all else, don't even THINK about taking it to a machine shop to have the face milled flat. There is no better way to kill an old anvil. The hardened face is only 3/8" thick or so, and it is a shallow-hardening steel so it is only hard for about 1/16" deep. On this particular anvil I see the whole top dips towards the horn, which means a machinist would mill all the steel face off trying to make the face parallel with the base, leaving you with a dead soft wrought iron face.

 

Now that I have that out of the way, a little sway in the face is great for straightening things. If it were mine all I'd do to it is take off the paint, give the face a gentle cleaning with sandpaper backed with a steel bar, and get to work!

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Thank you Jarrod and Admin! I greatly appreciate the info and advice and will be going to take a look at it this week. I have been looking for a while and this is the most reasonable I have found. I look forward to joining the site more and beginning my hobby

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I have an anvil roughly the same exact age as this one with the same exact defect.... of course it would be nice to have clean lines all the way around but it really doesnt affect my work.... i just work around it . You can always make a hardy tool later with CRISP hard corners if you like... but my aged rounded edges work pretty darn well for 90% of the work i do.

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alan answered that already.. a flapper wheel on an angle grinder or a wire cup wheel...or you could ignore all of that and just beat hot metal on it and it polishes up real nice on the top :P

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You have no location listed, but if you're in the US, you can get a anvil in much better condition at many of the blacksmiths events. $300 is a lot for something not ready to use.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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So I ended up purchasing and cleaning up the anvil with a wire brush, took me an afternoon but well worth it! The one question I have is related to where the face plate has the chip in it. Should I just avoid hammering in the area of it or is there something I should do to help strengthen it?

 

I am not a welder but I have heard if you find a very good welder that knows what he is doing it can be good to fill those areas. I did notice that the rebound is a little weaker around the chip. Still about 60 to 70 percent vs. Around 80 or more throughout the rest of the faceplate.

 

Thanks!

Edited by Bobby Lind
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Just avoid it -- even if you find a good welder he may still mess the temper up-- My anvil has the same flaw i just work around it. Not as big of a deal as it seems like it will be.

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Also, you shouldnt have to worry about rust on the face of the anvil any more -- if any does build up you can just get some metal hot and start pounding on it. Problem solved.

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your steps look pretty crisp (for an older anvil) so if u need hard corners thats what i would use. My anvil looks identical to that one and 90% of my work is just above the step on this side face damage. good near side and far side half hammer face blows. I dont like using my Bick or area near the hard holes as they Ring really loud and i do alot of forging late at night.

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Let me give you a tip. Put some silicone caulk down and let it harden a bit then set your anvil down on it. Then your anvil won't ring. A little advice I got. Thanks Alan! My Nimba has legs, so the ringing was unbearable. Now just a thud.

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