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  #11  
Old 10-09-2013, 07:52 PM
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mudbug mudbug is offline
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Almost ALL old anvils that are in ruined condition suffer from some ding-a-ling using them to beat on "cold" steel which usually damages the surfaces.

If you could find an old forklift tine you could build a nice anvil...
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  #12  
Old 10-10-2013, 07:50 AM
LittleBadger LittleBadger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker View Post
Head over to iforgeiron.com for in depth discussions on all things blacksmith.
So much to learn! Thanks for the link!

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Originally Posted by used-iron View Post
"yeah over on so-in-so road there might be several pcs over the bank".
Oh, that makes my scrounger's heart go pitter-patter :-) VT seems to use a contractor who uses all new, fancy bits :-( Time to try to come across some RR guys re-laying a bit of track somewhere!

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Originally Posted by mudbug View Post
Almost ALL old anvils that are in ruined condition suffer from some ding-a-ling using them to beat on "cold" steel which usually damages the surfaces.

If you could find an old forklift tine you could build a nice anvil...
Our CL list coverage area is small in population so the pickings are by nature slim at best. A lot of folks here cruise for re-saleables-to-ebay as a way of making money too, so what little gets posted gets snatched up right away. There may be some decent stuff still listed, but I'm just too ignorant right now to feel good about dropping $300 on a rough-on-the-surface anvil.

Oh, that tine anvil is sweet!!
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  #13  
Old 10-10-2013, 09:56 AM
MetalMangler MetalMangler is offline
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As you've seen from the examples so far... There isn't any "One True Way". The Anvil started out where you are as hitting against rocks. As the person working wanted to do something in particular refinements were added. The horn on an anvil helps with forming curves (a-la a horseshoe?), etc. etc. What people visualize as an anvil is a convenient, multi-purpose tool. But let your needs dictate what you can work with, and feel free to make your own path.

You mentioned that you are trying to remove bends, so that would hint that one thing you're looking for is a flat surface. Mudbug's pic of the rail-plate might satisfy your need there. I may have one in my scrap pile if you're in need. Not too big (I think about 8" square or so), but if you want it, we can work out how to get it to you.

One thing that the square holes on it reminded me of is what are called Hardy holes... Basically the square hole in the tail of the typical anvil is called the Hardy Hole, and the smith would put various implements (called creatively enough "Hardy tools") in the hole. The square shape would prevent things from rotating, so if for instance your tool looked like a 2 tine fork, you could put a piece of metal in between the tines and start bending the metal around in a shape.

The square holes in the rail plate would give you the same ability... If you need a curve, find a chunk of metal you would want to form your shape around, put a square shank on it (railroad spike size... hmmm... where might we find those ) and put it in the square hole. Instant curved tool.

But don't be limited by these suggestions... Visit some scrap metal places... Look at the chunks of stuff they have lying around and ask yourself what could you do with that. If you say "Hmmm... That looks nice and flat, I'll bet I could straighten that long thing-a-mabobber on that real easily" then you've got a potential anvil!

A couple of rules that will apply, regardless:

1) You're trying to move metal (moving the mass by reshaping it). Metal generally moves easier when you heat it. Also, if it's cold it is more brittle, and can break.

2) You're dealing with three items to move the metal: Something used as an anvil, the metal you're trying to move, and the object you're hitting against the metal. You want your object to move, not the anvil. Two ways to do that: Use a big honking piece of metal as your anvil (That's why many anvils weigh 100+ pounds). The other is to firmly attach the anvil to something that weighs a lot (Taking a 150# anvil and firmly attaching it to a 50# stump now gives you a 200# mass)

If you use something light like the railroad plate, be prepared to firmly attach it to something big and heavy. If you luck onto a 200# square chunk of steel, just letting it sit on a stump would probably work.

Ok... Hopefully I haven't overloaded you. Welcome to the addiction!

MM
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  #14  
Old 10-10-2013, 10:23 AM
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Your observation of the rail plate was exactly why I posted that snapshot.

I've got plates that are 1/2" thick & 8x14" and a couple that are 3/4" thick and 12x20" (switch plates probably) My buddy has one that's bigger than that mounted to a huge beam.

The square holes do indeed open options for bending stakes or hardy tools of all sorts. I'm mounting one onto a large beam standing on end (embedded in the ground) for that exact use.

The plates are pretty tough steel like rails and the one pictured mounted to the end of an I-beam ought to make a great beater plate.

I've got three anvils ,but only ONE still has the heel with the hardy hole and I think I'll make and use a plate anvil for any use that requires a hardy hole... I'll just fabricate tools that fit the plate for bending & beating.

Someone asked me last week why I'd picked up so many pieces of RR rails/plates .... I just started searching and found several and have decided it might be best to purchase every one I could find after looking for several years. First there were NONE and then they were everywhere I looked. Big ones... smaller ones... Long ones...short ones
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  #15  
Old 10-10-2013, 12:34 PM
LittleBadger LittleBadger is offline
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Originally Posted by MetalMangler View Post
but if you want it, we can work out how to get it to you.

Ok... Hopefully I haven't overloaded you. Welcome to the addiction!

MM
Seriously?!? The farthest thing from overload! That was a beautiful combination of both explanation *and* framework for thinking about it. I'm so new to all of this that I'm getting bogged down in the detail and start to over-plan things when I'm much better just getting my hands on something and getting moving. And oh what a lovely addiction!

Yes, let's talk if you've still got that plate hanging around. USPS foolishly makes flat rate shipping boxes in a lovely range of sizes for metal bits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudbug View Post
Your observation of the rail plate was exactly why I posted that snapshot.

Big ones... smaller ones... Long ones...short ones
I'm loving the plate-hardy hole idea the more I read and the combinations it affords (both for after-it-is-built usefulness as well as flexibility in design) are great!

I've already been accumulating piles of things that have that "someday I will be useful" look to them so I feel that rhythm

My welding set-up is mig. Is there a way to heat up stuff for pounding without a gas set-up? Is it worth it to use propane to get a small temp change in the metal? The first piece I want to take a pair of bends out is 6' - ish so a homemade forge seems out of the question.
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  #16  
Old 10-10-2013, 02:28 PM
MetalMangler MetalMangler is offline
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Ahh... First the anvil.... Now the forge. The bug has truly bitten deep.

Again, let your needs guide you. When I first got bitten I drove a couple of hours to purchase a riveter's forge... Typical of what would have been used building an old steel building or a bridge, etc. Then I got with some folks and realized that as nice as it was (and "real" since it was at one point a commercially made product with casting marks and everything... oooh.... ahhh) it had one simple purpose... hold a fire to get something hot. Since then I've made myself a propane forge out of a discarded helium tank and also a forge that uses coal or charcoal in a discarded gas grill. All work fine, but a campfire would work also. Again, in general anything that gets the metal glowing will do.

Starting with the idea of a campfire the first two refinements I'd add would be:

1) Something to contain the fire... Anything outside the area that's heating the metal is wasted. Ideally if you can keep the fire right on the point you're looking to move you're at the most efficient. If you are heating around it, probably not a problem. If you're heating your entire room and can't get near to get your metal, it's too big.

2) Something to pump in air. You can get the fire much hotter much quicker (and in a more confined area) with something blowing into it. This could be someone blowing from the side (very tiring, get dizzy, fall into the fire... medical bills, but a great youtube moment if you capture it on video!), a small hand bellows, a big bellows, or even the output from a vacuum... direct the output of a dirt-devil hand vac into the fire and you'll have great air flow. (Might want to look at something to limit it... it can be too great!)

If you're doing something long, have a pass-through for your fire containment. Make something to support the ends hanging out over the side and you can heat up the area you're working on, put it back in the fire slightly shifted to heat the next area, and you're rockin'.

MM

(P.S. Some notes on fuel... Coal comes in a couple of variations... Bitumous is easier to work with (easier to light, easier to keep lit, etc) but other kinds (Anthracite) may be easier to find and will still work. When I mentioned charcoal above I meant real hard-wood charcoal, not the briquettes you use for summer bar-b-ques. I've never used briquettes, but I've heard enough complaints about it and have easier access to both real charcoal and actual coal that I don't even go down that road. Even regular wood will work, but you'll have to use more wood to get the fire as hot as a smaller amount of charcoal, so it's an efficiency point)
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  #17  
Old 10-10-2013, 07:11 PM
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allessence allessence is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker View Post
RR track will work. JUst keep your eye on CL, as they pop up quite a bit. Look for one at least 100 pounds, 150 is much better and 220 is great. Dont beat cold steel on an anvil, it has to be hot (red at minimum). A stump works great. If you can find maple/hickory/etc or other hardwood that do not split they would be best. You can also build one up using pieces of timber strapped/blted together.
There is nothing wrong with beating cold steel on an anvil if it's done right..

I do it all the time.. My main shop anvil was used for 10 years everyday for right around 8-10hrs a day and it is just as perrty as it was when I bought it.. perfectly flat (though and anvil is not flat) but hitting stuff cold on it is not abuse if done properly..

If abused this is a different problem.. And there are tons of abused anvils out there..

If I were you and I was just straightening stuff out. I'd actually find a worn anvil which is swayed back some.. This makes it easier to straighten stuff when you aren't sure where to hit it.. Kind of like a sweet spot..

If you are doing fine work and you need a flat spot then usually just behind the cutting table on the anvil will be pretty decently flat as will just in front of the hardy hole..

If you are looking for precision then a flat faced anvil will make it easier but skill, Good skills will allow for the quality work to get done with no matter what tool you have.. It might just take a little longer.. Ya just gotta know how to use it..
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  #18  
Old 10-11-2013, 10:37 AM
LittleBadger LittleBadger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetalMangler View Post
Ahh... First the anvil.... Now the forge. The bug has truly bitten deep.
LOL on the deep bite! My great-grandfather was the town blacksmith/machinist so I suspect it's in my DNA. Only wish I'd had a chance to meet him!

Great tips on the warming forge build! Many thanks! I'm toying with the idea of setting up an outdoor spot near our pond (always handy to have an emergency water supply for those falling into the fire needs ;-) ). Outdoors gives me room to move bent up awkward pieces, a firepit (from an old dump truck tire rim) would give me some ability to focus the heat. I have a couple of old solar panels to power a couple of old computer DC fans for airflowability (via a conduit at a respectable distance from the heat ;-) ). We have many a pine blow-down so I may give those a try as a fuel source.
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  #19  
Old 10-11-2013, 10:41 AM
LittleBadger LittleBadger is offline
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There is nothing wrong with beating cold steel on an anvil if it's done right..
I'm curious about the good technique for cold-steel-on-an-anvil that folks are bantering around. Is it just a function of location of the piece on the anvil? Based on the cold steel being less forgiving than hot? Rocks don't care where you beat on them and their natural curve makes for some great shaping, but with winter coming, I'm thinking indoors has it hands-down on shoveling out the rock fence.
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  #20  
Old 10-11-2013, 10:44 AM
MetalMangler MetalMangler is offline
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Sounds like you're doing a great job of making what you've got work! I look forward to seeing how it's going, and what you're making!

MM

P.S. I took a cursory look in my scrap pile and didn't find the plate near the top, so some digging will be necessary. I'll keep you in the loop.
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