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Daniel W

Just no way around it eventually

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I'm telling myself today, what I decided to buy is worth it in the long run.  I'm ranting so much of this is my opinion from my experience so far. My experience is only one of hundreds out there.  There is more than one way to get something done with the tools you have available to you, its all about how something works for you and your process.  

 

There is just no way around it, the anvil is just something you can't build.  You can get a piece of rail and get by, but its not the same, I've used one since I started up my home shop and my hands are paying for it.  The harbor freight anvil, yes it works but deforms like its made from mild steel, requires dressing and the bick (horn) is just, yuck.  A mild steel ASO is better than nothing and you can do plenty of work off of it. 

To me, as I learned through the past few years and worked at a few open shops, there is no question that striking a forged anvil with a good harden face with plenty of rebound is better on your body.  Not to mention you can get more work done as that hammer is coming back and your not lifting it all the way to strike again.  I've worked off of a few cast anvils old and new, and they are good to work with, this is just my opinion.

The last time I forged, my little piece of rail just wasn't happy attempting to make a bending/scrolling fork from an old leaf spring.  Every hit with a heavier hammer (3lbs) was just dead.  My tendinitis began to flair and it was time to stop. I was losing my grip and over gripping my hammer, the rail was not staying put, its deforming I just had enough with working with this. 

The next day I talked with one of my professional smith friends and he had something he wanted me to look at. 200lbs of something which at first worried me because I'm so small - how could I move 200lbs around this garage every time I want to make something? Today I needed some steel for a flower project and there it sat.  200lbs of Hey-Budden, and today it came home with me.  From my inspection, it has not been repaired which he also believed, it is in better condition than any anvil I tracked down in the past (forged or otherwise).  I believe this anvil is in better condition than almost every one I have worked off at open shops.  The plate is barely scared, the horn is in good condition.  It's just been touched by a cutting torch in a few places but its at the near side of the anvil which doesn't bother me. 

As we took it out to the truck it begins to snow very heavily and he says "Hey Dan Merry Christmas, sometimes it comes later in the year." It didn't snow the whole way home until I got to the house and put the tale gate down, and I had some kind of poetic moment that told me this Hey-budden is home, on Christmas day it just came a little later.  Although the cost of this was high, its got to be worth it for what I want to do as a blacksmith.  Not just for knife making but for every little thing I can dream of making with steel.

 

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Congratulations!  It's a beauty, and you have a very good friend indeed to provide it to you!

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Congratulations!

Your logic and reasoning is flawless and I may steal some of it if I find one like that. My wife is pretty good about such things but a little bit of justification helps.

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Lol, he can just seem to stumble over them - and he's particular to hey-budden. We touched it with a hammer and just every inch of it sings.  For all the anvils I've seen, I've worried about how to repair them, but when I saw this I thought, 'its better than any I've seen!' Even with a lot that I've seen pictured here at times, or ebay /craigs list.  

The price for any anvil is steep, but there are 2 good points about this one that he did point out (any many of the big brand old anvils).  The right person will buy it for the same price if not better in a few years if I have to get rid of it. Secondly, 200lbs in my opinion is an everything anvil. it's big enough to do the decorative jobs I want and build the big tools I'll be needing in time.  Also not so big that I can't make smaller things from it.

I justify this as, it will always make money.  It kinda hurts now to unload that much for what most people would take to a scrap yard.  But all you need is 1 anvil over a life time.  Only if I chose to repair it will I ever put money back into it.  Its not like I just bough a car and the value of it went down as soon as I took off with it.

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Posted (edited)

Good for you Daniel! Merry Christmas! There is a gigantic difference in using that vs. The track anvil isn't there?

I used a track anvil up until last year. If you stole my real anvil, I might not go back to the track. Its amazing what you'll use when you don't know any better :lol: 

Edited by Zeb Camper

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Congrats she is a beaut! 

 

She reminds me of my Hay Budden, I drove about 75 miles one way to get it,!! !!  Here is a link of how I re-worked mine!!

 

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I cannot wait to mount it on something.  I'm probably going to make a solid 4x4 stand, glue it down (silicone) and strap it tightly in an attempt to dampen the sound as much as possible. Plus wrap chain, magnets, hang a hammer off the horn - whatever else I can do. This will sound a lot sweeter than my track anvil - but I know it will be much louder.  I have not had any trouble with my neighbors since starting up my shop for noise, I want to try and keep it that way. 

Just on the floor, the rebound of it is really nice.  The guy I bought if from asked me to call him after the first stoke falls on it.  He knows I'm going to be happy with it. 

 

I still kind of stewed over it last night, although I've made simple things off of just about everything you can strike a hammer on, and you can get by on it.  I've made really nice stuff off of crap - in fact most my blacksmith friends can't believe some of the things I've made off of junky tools, so that's where I have to say, your process may work out for you.  If you want to make just knives, and working down big steel may not be a priority you can totally get by without this tool for a while.  You'll always want one, you don't need an insanely big anvil for that.  I'm still thinking that man this is really bigger than what I was planning on getting anvil wise (I always have the option to trade it back with the guy) but for the architectural stuff I would like to get into, I think to have 200lbs will in the long run be better than a 150 like I was thinking.  Its really not about who has the biggest best anvil out there to me, I knew a little bit about Hey-budden and the fact that this was was not messed with told me it was right.  I would rather have a quality anvil that was not repaired in good condition than one that might have been repaired in an unknown way.

In the coming few days off, I'm planing on wire wheeling it down and just dressing the face a little, maybe truing the edges a little and making a little more radius on them to prevent chip out. 

 

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Lay a solid bead of pure silicone caulk about 1/2" thick on the stump and let it cure half an hour or until it's just barely tacky, then set the anvil on it.  Or lay the caulk on the anvil, the stump is easier though. The next day when it's fully cured, bolt it down tight (straps aren't enough, make a pair of tabs out of say 1/4" x 2" mild steel about four inches long, drill a hole in the middle, and use at least 4" long lag bolts.  Lay the tabs on an angle so one end is on the stump and the other is on the middle of the foot, drill pilot holes through the hole in the tab, and bolt it down .  The holes will be at an angle)  Once you've done this, it won't make a sound.  Well, not much of a sound. 

It looks like an earlier HB with a steel plate on a wrought body.  I wouldn't do a lot to it.  If it had the steel top half I'd feel free to dress it a little more.  Get the serial number off the front foot.  I'm betting it dates between 1900-1910. 

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Yes its a wrought iron anvil.  I said 'Awe shucks' when I began to clean it up and could clearly see the grain of wrought iron in the horn and heal.  I asked my smithy friends about hey budden because of the solid forged tool steel models - figured they are close to bullet proof.  I didn't do my research to see that they are not all forged steel anvils.  Serial number is gone, the side of the anvil does look to have a date but it's worn away and only looks to read 191? most of the hey is gone and only part of budd is still present.  Brooklyn NY is barely there.

I was bummed about it just a bit mostly because - I know I won't be able to really wack things over the horn if I need to.  I haven't used it yet so it's hard to say if the deformation I'm expecting will happen or not.  Aside from that - for its time - it was top of the line from what I know.  As long as I take care of it properly, it should survive for a while.  

I put oil over the whole thing, and I did begin to notice 2-3 little glints of different steel on the face. Only in a few places, it looks like possible weld splatter as these are very small and where ground flush.  Chances are someone already resurface this thing - but again I haven't really swung at this yet so I can't tell if its hurt the HT in any way or ground through it.    Before I do anything to it, I'm going to use it and then asses if it needs any redressing.

I've tested it out with the ball of a ball peen (like 16oz) and just let it fall on it (about 2in drop), I have not seen any deformation from it, and its got life all over the plate.

 

I have however decided that if this does not hold up, that going after a new anvil is the way to go.  A 100 year old anvil probably was never meant to last this long.  Consider that something made in 1914 to mostly work hot wrought iron meets D2 tool steel for a project.  Old anvils in general, are hard to find in a good workable condition at a working guys price.  Then I also considered that for what I bought this one for, for just a little more money I could get a cast tool steel anvil of the same weight and just dealt with the little bit of dressing from time to time. I have never worked off a modern anvil so it's hard to say exactly, but as long as that hammer would rebound 50-60% or more I'd be happy.

 

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Posted (edited)

That stinks about the anvil man. I feel your pain. 

Anvils will stand the test of time if not mistreated. Many people prefer old anvils. They can just be hard to find in good shape sometimes. Post "WANT TO BUY ANVIL" adds on FaceBook. Your main page, and for sale groups. Put an add on Craigslist. Use pictures! Make sure you catch someone's attention. Make connections, follow leads, keep your nose to the ground, search antique shops (the old dingy type with concrete floors). Call people, ask around any type of farming crowd. Meet at their place to make the deal. You can negotiate, and take time to inspect if you go to them (plus you can walk away). Good luck to you buddy! 

On the other hand, this anvil will probably do you just fine. 

Edited by Zeb Camper

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What?? They were absolutely meant to last this long, and longer.  Nothing wrong with a wrought body anvil at all.  I love my wrought Peter Wright.  You're not supposed to forge really heavy stuff over the horn anyway, it's not very efficient.  The horn is for bending, and if you have a piece so big that it's endangering your wrought anvil horn, that's far too big to be trying to bend by hand on the horn anyway.  Don't worry about it, man.  This anvil of yours is in no way inferior to modern anvils, in fact it may well have a somewhat harder top than you'll find in most modern anvils.  It looks to be in great shape!

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I absolutely second what Salem said.  I'd take an old beat-up and lovingly repaired anvil over ANY new anvil on the market any day.  Old ones are harder and livelier by far than any new anvil I have used.  Plus they're prettier.  I'm willing to bet after you've used that one for a year you will have zero complaints.

And if you do, I'll be happy to take it off your hands for what you have in it.;)  I should never have sold my Peter Wright.  It was twice the anvil at half the weight of my Refflinghaus.

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I am thinking the same thing Alan, I'm probably not going to have anything bad to say about it once I get it mounted up and work something over it.  I'm going after some lumber today to make the 4x4 bundle, this is just going to work better for the space I got right now.  Too bad I can't find any locust posts around this time of year, I'd grab a few of them for the project.

Saturday is looking like a decent weather day, I'm shooting to have everything set up by then to work something. Then I might have to walk around all day like this :D.

 

 

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I used cross stacked CDX plywood under my "Harbor Fright ASO". I bordered and put a X across the center of each layer with construction adhesive and used construction screws on each layer. For me it went together fast to make the most of a cheap ASO. I wonder what it would be like under a real anvil.

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I can't help thinking end grain hardwood is better.  Definitely has less give.  My power hammer sits on a pad made out of 2x6 pine stacked and assembled the way you describe, and it is noticeably bouncy.

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Finally, I got things together and gave the old Hey a smack! it sings, sweetly.  Oh I'll never miss that piece of &*^% rail track.

Today I just got things together to swing the hammer at the anvil.  You can build your bundle however you like, but for me, I used 4X4 finished pine.  Treated is cheaper, heavier, wetter, swampy, bent, twisted - I wasn't even going to begin that head ache.  The finished lumber is already stabilized so I don't have to worry about all the splitting that will occur as treated lumber would.  Plus you can work with it right away, which for me since I have a good bit of wood working stuff - this was the way to go. 

Each 4x4 is planed down by a joiner to make a nice flat contact with the other 4x4.  Then they were glued, and screwed into each other working from the center of the bundle out so each 4x4 is linked to another. I have planned out to add a piece of ply wood on the bottom to distribute the contact from the floor so that I don't to break one out. 

I did not yet tie the anvil down as I'm trying to figure out my working height.  Below knuckle, above knuckle, level with inseam, and I'm probably going with inseam as I know I'm going to be holding a bunch of stuff between my legs.     Today was just a hit it and get a feel for it kinda day.

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