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Jesse Hodgeson

Anvil purchase question... please help!!

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Hello all!! I’m new to the forum and new to blacksmithing.  I am a knife maker and i have a small kanka anvil and iv been wanting to upgrade. I was plannning to buy a papa rhino anvil soon.  But I found this old hay budden for sale. The rhino is 240 lbs and cost 1450$ and 200 for shipping. They’d take 1000$ for the hay budden and it’s in driving distance.  The hay budden is 350 lbs I think. It appears to have been welded across the wrist at some point.  
 

Any advice on which would be the smarter buy would be appreciated!!! Thanks!! 

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Antique stores are the worst places to buy anvils, they inflate the price by at least 40%.  The waist weld itself isn't scary, but the odd plug is.  Worse than that is the welding on the face.  If I could test it myself I'd tell you if seemed okay or not, but all you can do is try the ring and rebound.  If it doesn't ring clear, and/or if it doesn't bounce a ball bearing at least 90%, run away.  Just looking at it I'm very skeptical, it looks seriously monkeyed with to me.  

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I don't know the market south of the border, but here, anvil prices are finally coming down as the FiF frenzy is fading. I'd just listen to Alan's guts and wait. 

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Thanks for the help! I’m leaning toward the rhino more and more. The hay budden is located 5 hours away so it would be hard for me to test well.  I’ve seen very few decent prices on used anvils since I’ve started looking and usually the fair prices ones disappear fast.  

do y’all have an opinion on rhino anvils? 

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The Rhino is one of the best new anvils made.  They are cast from an alloy that hardens all the way through, and they are made in USA.  They're not pretty, but they have more mass under the face where it's needed than most.  If I had to buy new I'd seriously consider them.  

Full disclosure: we know their foundry metallurgist.  He's a good guy. That's why I don't hesitate to recommend them even though I have not used one myself.

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First off, the anvil looks to be in rough shape and the weld line indicates it's been badly abused. If you haven't made up your mind on what style of anvil you want, try attending your local blacksmith group's meetings. You can see and maybe use a number of different styles and sizes and you'll have people with years of experience to answer your questions. Most areas in the US, if that is where you live,will have a yearly blacksmith event and there's always tailgater's.

 

Second, what do you think that having a large anvil will do, that a small anvil won't do? While I have both a 400Lb and 600plus Lb Fisher anvils, my primary use anvil is a 100Lb Swedish. Many bladesmiths and blacksmiths get by quite well with only a small post anvil.  As I recall, Francis Whitaker used a 150Lb anvil.

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I've seen hay buddens in worse condition, at 350lbs at $1000 that's actually a good price based on the fella I usually deal with that would snatch up every hay budden seen.  And I have seen at least one other hay budden with a weld line in it like that.  But not the little key piece that seems to be filler.  Is that weld original? I can't say for sure as the last time I saw one like that, I was told it was original. 

 

At 350lbs it is a beast of an anvil, you will need a permanent place to keep it. One of the other things about a vintage anvil is you don't know who messed within its lifetime and how much of the face steel that is actually hard my be left.   You may get a vintage anvil what someone has mig welding the edges back or someone refaced several times.  Which to me, if your looking for an anvil, you are looking for that hardened face to be rather in-tacked.

 

Vintage anvils are somewhat of a gamble.

 

However new anvils come with a lot of benefits I bet you there's a warranty with one.  They don't take the same kind of care and some of them are 100% tool steel alloys. The face of them is probably dead flat etc. If I wasn't so happy with my 200lb hay budden, I would really be looking at one of the Ridge (peddinghaus)165 anvils. 

 

When thinking about anvil size, also think about size of your work, you can only work as much as your hammer face will let you no matter what size anvil you have. I don't have a permanent place for my 200lb anvil, and it takes some effort to move when I want to work.  So much so, I recently tried to acquire a bridge crane that came up at auction just because I thought I could use it. 

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Thank you Alan and Gerald for the advice and thank y’all for saving me from possibly a big waste of money on the hay budden lol.  
 

Gerald iv read that 200 - 300 lb anvils are the best size for more rebound and some

mobility.  Honestly I know I can do everything I want to on my 110 lb Kanca anvil.  Iv just felt like I would eventually need a bigger anvil.  I recently finished building my power hammer which has taken a lot of the hammering away from my anvil also.  
 

thank y’all for the feedback 

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14 minutes ago, Jesse Hodgeson said:

200 - 300 lb anvils are the best size for more rebound and some

mobility.

No, nothing in my experience says that is true.  I learned on a 350Lb.  When I started out on my own, I acquired the 600, found it too big for some tasks and went looking for a smaller anvil, meant to get a much smaller anvil, but some how came home with the 400.  Then I got a 215 and it was still too big for some tasks.  I've found the 100 is just about the right size for most everything I do.   More then weight, having the anvil securely attached to the stand and the stand secured to the floor will decide how the anvil performs. 

 

It really comes down to personal choice.  What you like is going to be as important as is actual performance.  

 

After I wrote this, I had a light come on:  What you're using the anvil for.  That's the reasoning for my anvil choices.  The anvil that best did that which I did the most.

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Daniel:  look closely at the face pics. There's arc welds all over the edges, and maybe an entirely rebuild pritchel hole.

 

Jesse: Gerald is totally right.  Especially about having it solidly mounted.  A loose anvil will feel much more massive and the rebound will greatly improve if you bolt it down tight to an immovable object.   It's easy to get sucked into the "bigger is better" mindset, but in my own experience, once you get over 150 - 200 lbs it makes little difference to a smith working alone.  If you were making anchors with a team of strikers you could use a bigger anvil, but for blade work you really don't.   Oddly enough, smaller anvils tend to be harder with more rebound than larger ones.

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Thank you Daniel for the advice.  I’m going to pass on the hay budden cause of the mystery of the anvils past.  I’m a knife maker so I don’t really need a large work surface. Currently i have to move my Anvil and power hammer

every time I want to blacksmith. I thought I’d be able to move a 240lb anvil with a dolly but im

not sure. 

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Ok Gerald that’s some good information. So you think I’d be just as well off keeping my 110 lb kanca vs upgrading to a 240 lb rhino?  I’m a knife maker and I haven’t felt like my work surface was too small on this anvil.   
 

another option was building myself a forging press... it would cost about the same amount of money as buying a new anvil. I already built a power hammer. Iv been making lots of leaf spring knives and I’m getting into making Damascus.  What do y’all think would be the best use of my money? 
 

thanks for the advice so far

Edited by Jesse Hodgeson

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Personally, I would invest in the press build, the kanka is fine

for blade smithing IMHO.................B)

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Exactly.  If you want to do damascus at any level beyond low-layer twist patterns, the press is the most efficient way to go.  You will still need the hammer, though.  A press is good for everything until you get down to a fat 1/4" thick or so, then the steel cools too fast to get a lot of action.  Plus it's easier to draw out fast on a hammer than a press.  If you want to get into mosaics or crushed Ws or feathers, a press is about the only thing that will do the job.

 

I've had a 100-lb Columbian anvil with no edges and great rebound, a 143lb Peter Wright, and a 220-lb Refflinghaus.  The Peter Wright is by far the best of the bunch, and I regret selling it to this day.  The Columbian is an old family tool and will not be sold, and it's flat out dangerous to forge on as a missed blow will plant the hammer in your forehead.  It just has had all the edge knocked off and the horn isn't as sharp as I like.  

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Y’all all seem like y’all have had and sold and repurchased a lot of cool anvils!  Y’all have been very helpful!  I suppose I should research and build a forging press. I kinda know that’s the best use of my money. I don’t like to be held back on what I can and can’t build cause of my equipment. 
 

thank y’all!! 

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5 hours ago, Jesse Hodgeson said:

So you think I’d be just as well off keeping my 110 lb kanca vs upgrading to a 240 lb rhino?

I think you've already been well answered by Clifford and Alan.  And they both have more experience then I do with bladesmithing side of forging :-)

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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6 hours ago, Jesse Hodgeson said:

Y’all all seem like y’all have had and sold and repurchased a lot of cool anvils!  Y’all have been very helpful!  I suppose I should research and build a forging press. I kinda know that’s the best use of my money. I don’t like to be held back on what I can and can’t build cause of my equipment. 
 

Yeah, absolutely! Until a couple years ago; I made everything on a modified length of railroad track. If you already have a good 100+lb anvil, I would put that money elsewhere. I always think back to those swordsmiths of old hammering out 32" pattern welded swords on an anvil about the size of your fist. 

I would typically like to disagree that you need better equipment to do better work. However, I will say with high layered damascus, or just a large amount of damascus (swords); you cant possibly forge out a 5lb brick of steel by hand (unless you were real determined). Even with a striker it sucks. 

 

FWIW, I love a power hammer. Never owned a press, but I set welds by hand anyway. I can feel what's going on and I have a little more control and accuracy by setting welds by hand (at least for what I do). I've only lost 2 billets to a bad weld so far. So I get it set then pop it in the hammer & let it eat! 

 

Good luck!

 

 

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If you have a 100-110 lb anvil that basically works well for you but you just want something to move steel just a little better you could look at a block anvil.  I had (until it grew legs in the middle of the night) a 110 lb anvil with a bad hardy hole that was ok for moving steel  I was reading a lot of comments about how good block or stake anvils were and I got an 86 lb block of H13 from a steel supply house that sold it's cut offs on Ebay.  Even though it was almost 25 lbs lighter than my European style anvil it moves steel much better because more of the mass is  under the work.  Luckily, it evidently didn't look like an anvil so when the thieves stole my other two anvils they left the block anvil behind.

 

Doug

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I don't want to hijack this thread but if you decide on a smaller anvil, I have a 125 lb. Trenton that I would part with.  Let me know if interested.

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Thank y’all for the replies!! Good points Zeb and Doug!  Ppl have made and more complex blades then me and with no power equipment!! Lol Guess part of me just thinks the large anvils are cool lol. In reality my anvil has worked well and done everything I wanted it to do. 

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No problem Gary.  Tempting but im not sure I’d need another close to the size of my current one.. unless u made me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol.  Mind if I ask what

your asking for it? 

Edited by Jesse Hodgeson

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8 hours ago, Jesse Hodgeson said:

No problem Gary.  Tempting but im not sure I’d need another close to the size of my current one.. unless u made me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol.  Mind if I ask what

your asking for it? 

 

 

It's a nice size for traveling so I'm not overly excited about selling it but if someone really needed it I would take $600.

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On 1/19/2020 at 4:26 AM, Alan Longmire said:

we know their foundry metallurgist.  He's a good guy.

Thank you!  

On 1/19/2020 at 4:26 AM, Alan Longmire said:

The Rhino is one of the best new anvils made.  They are cast from an alloy that hardens all the way through, and they are made in USA.  They're not pretty, but they have more mass under the face where it's needed than most. 

This sums them up pretty well.  

 

I went from a loosely mounted 75 pound anvil to a 275 pounder, secured to a 100 pound plate, plus the stand the plate was welded to.  I, too, need my anvil to be a bit mobile so bolting to the floor is not an option.  In hind sight, I wish I knew to secure my 75 pounder better sooner, but even when I learned to do that, the whole stand walked around.  It takes some very aggressive hammering for my 275 pound anvil to walk.  And boy did I see a big difference.  I think the main thing to work on is keeping all the energy in the work-piece, not in anvil moving.  If you can have a heavier stand that still makes it mobile, you might find that to be a big help.  

 

But also by a Rhino.  ;)  Seriously though, those aren't even really a blip on our bottom line, and they aren't really that profitable for us.  There are a couple other people we have been in talks with for making anvils for, too, one of them has even placed an order already.  So more blacksmith anvils are about to hit the market!  I have no idea what he's going to charge, and the bigger of the 2 styles he has ordered is about 140 pounds (London pattern).  

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Thanks for the feedback Jerrob!!  This is what I’m working with right now.  110 lb kanca that is securely mounted.  Think a 240 lb papa rhino securely mounted would benefit me in any noticeable way? I started on a railroad track that was on the ground and not secured and I spent most of my efforts chasing the piece of track around... what do u thin? A Larger anvil or build a forging press? 
 

thabks for everyone’s feedback.  If not for all yalls experience And adviceI’d probably be on my way to buy that hay budden right now.

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Edited by Jesse Hodgeson

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Some notes about a press, http://matthewdwalker.com/visit_my_studio/forging_press.pdf

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