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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 8:40 am    Post subject: Hardy Tools and Anvil Questions         Reply with quote

I recently received a 55lb cast iron anvil for my birthday. I had been looking for an old steel one to buy from someone locally, but that never happened. (and I looked for a year) I know cast iron anvils are not as good as steel ones, but they are about 4 times cheaper. I am not a professional, and do not plan to pound the crap out of it everyday. Has anyone else ever owned or had trouble with an iron anvil? I figure that smiths of the past must have been using them at some point, so they can't be horrible.

Second question is this... If you could only have four Hardy tools what would they be? This anvil has a Hardy hole so I was looking to get some tools for it. Where could I get some decent Hardy tools. Also does anyone make a domed brass or copper Hardy tool that you would use to peen rivets against?

Thanks in advance for replies!
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Allan Senefelder
Industry Professional



Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

Posts: 1,563

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luke, would this be the slate gray powder coated anvil sold by Harbor Freight?
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is the 55lb anvil that comes from Grizzly Tools. The face is bare metal, and the side and horn is painted green. Why have you had trouble with the Harbor Freight one?
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Allan Senefelder
Industry Professional



Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

Posts: 1,563

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe the Grizzly anvils are the same, they're just cast steel, the face isn't hardened so it is going to marr every time its struck. Anvils usually have a cast body with a hardened steel work face cast/welded in so this won't happen. Harbor Freight nor I believe Grizzly's anvils do.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have researched the difference between cast iron anvils, and forged steel ones for quite some time. Forged steel anvils have a forged steel body that is welded to a hardened steel face. the body will absorb a lot of the impact while the hardened steel face will resist ware. Same concept as constructing a blade and differentially hardening it . I was wondering if anyone had any first hand knowledge of the use of an iron anvil. Will I get a lot of use out of it, as far as having a solid surface to work against? I realize if I slip and strike it with a hardened tool that it will mar. For example... has anyone ever gotten an iron anvil at a time in there career / hobby when they where first starting out, and if so what was your thoughts. As I said earlier I do not plan to use this one heavily. I might try some knife making this summer when I get the time to make a small propane forge. Peening rivets, work hardening brass and bronze, light duty shaping etc.

Hardy tools? I was thinking of a bending fork, a cut off Hardy, maybe even a mini steel anvil for smaller work, spring fullers, or a swage or two. If you could only have four Hardy tools what would they be?
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Thom R.




Location: Tucson
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Reading list: 30 books

Posts: 630

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Too bad those 110# Russian made anvils are all dispersed.... they were actually a good deal for the money at the time. in addition to some stakes, to counter the softness of the main surface you could probably find yourself a small piece of hardened steel plate, and also maybe a section of railroad rail which can lay on top of your anvil. it will be loud though and in some ways you would be better off hammering against a plate or railroad rail while they are on a stump or the ground. Tandy Leather also sells this teeny little anvil of hardened steel that is great for peening rivets. you probably won't be able to use the horn or the edges to strike against if its too soft . as for your original question totally depends on what you want to make, I dunno. in case you don't have them I rec'd Jim Hrisoulas book, The Complete Bladesmith, and also Brian Price Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction, but may have them already? good luck! be interested in what others have to say on this topic.... tr
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Ken Nelson




Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations on taking the first few steps towards smithing, It is a great hobby, even if it gets a bit addictive. What are you planning to learn and work on in your smithy? That will go a long way to help determine what will work well for you for anvils and for tools. If you are planning on making blades, very little will be needed compared to armour, horseshoeing, or general blacksmith work.

When I started, I had a really bad...well, I cannot quite call it an anvil...I had a section of 4" I beam that I had welded extra supports to. It didn't last long. I think cast iron anvils are pretty much in the same boat. When I worked at a blacksmith/farrier supply shop we generally referred to cast iron anvils as "boat anchors" and "door stops". I do have a 55 lb cast iron anvil, that I use strictly for leatherwork. The face is soft enough that I was able to drill holes in it so that I could drive rivets and wire through the leather, and then flip it to set the rivet. even peening steel rivets could result in dimpling the face of that anvil. Keep scrounging for a better anvil, they are out there. Try salvage yards, old farms, and old machine shops. You can also join the local blacksmith group, as many have a newsletter with for sale items, and there are tailgate sales at many of the meetings. (not to mentoin that you can learn a lot from the groups quickly)

If you are looking to do any serious work, get at least a 100 lb anvil. that way it won't jump around when it is hit. I know a lot of farriers use a 70 lb anvil, and swear that it is too light. The reason for the 70 lbs, is that would get in under shipping weights for the post office and UPS, not because farriers wanted that size.

And for the hardy tools, again, what are you planning to make? I make everything from blades to gates. the 4 I use the most probably won't be the 4 you use the most. Mine are cutoff hardy, 1/2" spring fuller, gooseneck holdfast, and butcher hardy.

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

Posts: 167

PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have it so you might as well use it. Don't expect it to stand up to much use, though. Because cast iron is a lot more brittle than steel, it may chip as you forge with it so always wear eye protection while using it.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot has been said in this topic. I would like to add one thing. Get yourself a good welder, an angle grinder, a lot of coal and some simple tool steel (like 1080). And you will be able to make all the other tools you need! Blacksmiths rarely buy their tools, at least in my area. Simply because no-one sells them. They make the tools themselves. Depending on the work you do you may often find yourself in need for a very specific tool suitable for that particular project and for nothing else. Your anvil is light, but you can weld an iron stand for it that will add weight. Your anvil is soft, but it will not matter much as long as you do not do any cold work on it. And, finally, you can weld a hard surface on your anvil (though for this purpose I would advise you to turn to a professional welder). Start working and then you will see what you actually need.
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Liam O'Malley




Location: New JErsey
Joined: 17 Jan 2010

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one of my best friends has a grizzly, i have a drop forged anvil of about the same size. yeah, his marrs, but with a little extra finish work his stuff still blows mine out of the water.

as for hardy tools, you're really better off making your own, even on "standard" anvils, in my experience, hardies never fit quite right, and its a hell of a lot cheaper. as for what, bottom fuller, cutting plate (trust me, you want one on that anvil), hot cutter, and a bick. you can probably get away with using A36 or the local equivalent if you're not going to be beating the heck out of it with a sledge daily, so you're probably looking at maybe 15 bucks for steel in total.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First off I would like to mention that this thread is taking some great turns. Seems like this thread could become a good resource for beginners. I have wanted to do this for a long time now, and it feels like actual anvil time is getting closer and closer.
I have been on the verge of doing some smiting for about two years now, and things are starting to come together. I have three books that I have read, and of course I have learned priceless information on this site. I have been buying crafting tools a lot over the past two year, and there are still so many things I want to get.

I have considered making my own tools many time, and figure that I will start out by attempting a few set of tongs and and some hardy tools. This will be good practice with hammer control, and just give me a good feel.

I had an idea concerning the anvil and wanted to run it by here to see what people thought. Would I be able to bolt a hardened steel plate directly to the face of this anvil? Also what could I put between the anvil and the plate to reduce vibration? Epoxy, solder, something else? I do not know how to weld, which is something i need to remedy.

I plan to start out small so i think i will be building a small propane forge for making belt knives, and small seaxes. I feel like I could take a small piece of steel and rough shape it and finish it with some grinding and polish work, but then I will be lost when it comes to hardening it properly. I don't really have the a place for a coal forge right now, so i will be restricted from using such, unless i find someone local that wants a helper.

Thanks to anyone contributing to this thread, and lets keep it going. Feel free to add anything that would be useful to someone that wants to begin smiting.
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Liam O'Malley




Location: New JErsey
Joined: 17 Jan 2010

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 4:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

you don't need a coal forge to heat treat, works the same way in gas.
forge
normalize/anneal
rough file
normalize/anneal again
heat then quench
temper

and a 16 inch section of 8 inch well casing with a 2 inch thick kaowool liner and venturi burner is what i use for small stuff. heats up great, very economic with fuel, and also portable, which is kinda nice. also only cost about 30 bucks to make, most of that being the burner, which i can pop out and stick on another forge when this one wears out. kinda wish i'd put satanite around the inside of the kaowool, but i dont have the time or money to do so right now. i'd suggest you do if you can though.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 6:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When the time comes... I will have to get a better idea of how to make a propane forge. I have seen a couple tutorials online about making them. I would not need something very big at first.

Does anyone have any ideas about where one might find some good plans on the net, or a book that would instruct on the making of a propane forge?
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Ken Nelson




Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ron Reil has had burner and forge plans available for quite some time on his site. He is a member of ABANA, and I believe he has even hosted some gas forge building classes for them. I believe all the designs are atmospheric

http://ronreil.abana.org/design1.shtml

The burner I use is based on Tim Zowada's design, and is forced air:

http://www.tzknives.com/manifold.html

I have a tube style gas forge, 8" diameter, 13" long powered by one of these blowers coming in at a tangent at the top. the forge is built from a section of 14" pipe, lined with two layers of inswool, and then about 1" castable refractory. I can routinely get a welding heat on a 2"x2"x10" billet.

some things to consider, are the differences between the burners. Atmospheric burners are less expensive to build, and portable, you do not need any electricity. Forced air burners give you much greater control over the flame and a greater heat range.

A great book for a starting bladesmith would be Jim Hrisulous's book "The Complete Bladesmith". I would also recommend "Backyard Blacksmithing" by Lorilee Simms. It is more general smithing, but the projects are well planned, and will teach you good hammer control.

Going back a bit, I remember two anvils I helped friends make. they were making only blades, so they didn't need a traditional style anvil. We went to the scrapyard, and grabbed some 3/4" or 1" angle iron, a short section of 1 1/2" heavy wall square tubing(1" square on the inside) and a 12" section of 6" wide forklift tine. (it was about 2" thick). we ground a radius on both sides and one end, we welded the square tube to the other end to hold a hardy tool, and then we welded the angle iron into a frame and then to the tine section. we drilled several holed in the angle iron and bolted it to an oak stump. One of them is still using that anvil, the other broke the welds after about a year of use, so we re-welded it. He used it for a while, and then ran across a saw makers anvil, and upgraded.(note, a saw makers anvil doesn't have a horn either)

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken,
Thanks for the information. I have "The Complete Bladesmith" and "Backyard Blacksmiting", as well as another book called "Practical Blacksmithing and Metalworking" by Blandford. I will study those plans you linked and begin to plan for buying materials sometime in the early spring. I am in the middle of a professional semester right now, and have little time... Can't wait till summer when all I will have to do is work, and hobby stuff.
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Timothy Shaw




Location: Lakewood, WA
Joined: 22 Dec 2015

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue 22 Dec, 2015 8:33 pm    Post subject: Question regarding the cast iron anvils         Reply with quote

The one I got as an early Christmas present is from Harbor Freight, 55 pounder painted blue with a Central Forge nameplate on the side. I understand that the consensus is that it will last about as long as a stick of butter when I start hammering on things. My question is, would some sort of hardened steel face plate be a possible addition that would make it workable? And if so, any ideas on how one might procure or fashion one?

Many thanks for both your knowledge and time.

Timothy
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 23 Dec, 2015 10:13 am    Post subject: Re: Question regarding the cast iron anvils         Reply with quote

Timothy Shaw wrote:
The one I got as an early Christmas present is from Harbor Freight, 55 pounder painted blue with a Central Forge nameplate on the side. I understand that the consensus is that it will last about as long as a stick of butter when I start hammering on things. My question is, would some sort of hardened steel face plate be a possible addition that would make it workable? And if so, any ideas on how one might procure or fashion one?

Many thanks for both your knowledge and time.

Timothy


There's no good way to do it with the Harbor Freight anvils. They're iron rather than steel (as far as I know), so welding a steel face isn't really easily done; a good welder could do it, but it's quite possible you may be paying more than that anvil costs in the first place. It may be possible to hot-rivet a plate on top and have it milled flat afterwards, but putting rivet holes in the iron body will weaken it, so it's up to you.

You could spark-test it with an angle grinder to ascertain whether it's actually iron or cast steel. If it turns out to be steel, it can be salvaged by heat-treating... which is a difficult operation with something that big.

Google may be helpful; I'm sure there are blacksmith forums where people have broached similar questions to yours as HF is a fairly common source of cheap tools and I imagine similar situations with cast iron anvils have arisen.

I suggest you find a small block or stake anvil from Old World Anvils:
http://www.oldworldanvils.com/anvils/4x4-stake-anvil.html

In the meantime, the HF anvil is not *completely* useless. It will do for a piece to learn on until you save up the sum for anvil plus shipping. There are more on that website if you're looking for something else as well.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Wed 23 Dec, 2015 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not sure that you really need Hardie tools for a 55-pound anvil. What do you intend to do with Hardie tools that you can't do more efficiently with another tool? For instance, a cut off - with a 55-lb anvil you will doing small work that can be cut more quickly and easily with a grinder.

When you have a need for a tool, then get a tool. I wouldn't go buying tools just to get them.

If you want to peen domed rivets, grind a small depression in your anvil, near the Pritchel hole.
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Thu 24 Dec, 2015 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

55 lb harbor freight anvil, or any cast anvil - it will work, won't last as long as an anvil with a steel plate. very dull and lifeless in my opinion (meaning no rebound) so your really going to 'Work'. just don't work your metal cool on the face of it, and dress your edges of the anvil. the casting will chip if left at that hard 90 degree angel, rounding them over may help prevent it. honestly if you stick a 10 lb sledge hammer on its face and stand it straight up (with again some face redressing), that will be a better anvil.

noise, with a cast anvil, not a big problem, stick a big magnet under the horn and it will loose a good bit of noise. when I take classes in the summer I usually work at a station what have a 200lb hay button anvil that has nice life, but god awful loud!

as for hardy tools, it depends on what your planning to make. my list for a beginner would be

#1 a hold down.
#2 a hot cut
#3 bending fork
#4 maybe a fullering spring as I use one to neck pieces down.

make sure you make the tools of the right stuff. my last class, the smith stated to use old jack hammer bits as their an air hardening steel for the hot cut chisel like tools. shape them, bright them to critical temp, let them sit and their ready to go. but others tools steels can be used, he just suggested this was easiest in his opinion.

when working hot - I think these tools save the most time. unless your talking really small.

next I think you should see if you can get a vise. their more expensive than what you could find them just 2-3 years ago, does not need to be complete. if the screw is missing or seized up, you can easily cut it out and replace it. even if the pivot is seized, missing spring - not hard fixes. you just want to make sure the forgings are in good shape, (not cracked all the way through etc) chances are you will not find one that someone has not used to straighten old nails on. check the post - its the most important piece of the vise.

I was able to find an iron city post vise locally that I got for a STEAL that I needed to repair. I needed to repair the screw, which needs to welding (and probably should not be) and it works like a champ.
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Timothy Shaw




Location: Lakewood, WA
Joined: 22 Dec 2015

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu 24 Dec, 2015 12:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Question regarding the cast iron anvils         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Timothy Shaw wrote:
The one I got as an early Christmas present is from Harbor Freight, 55 pounder painted blue with a Central Forge nameplate on the side. I understand that the consensus is that it will last about as long as a stick of butter when I start hammering on things. My question is, would some sort of hardened steel face plate be a possible addition that would make it workable? And if so, any ideas on how one might procure or fashion one?

Many thanks for both your knowledge and time.

Timothy


There's no good way to do it with the Harbor Freight anvils. They're iron rather than steel (as far as I know), so welding a steel face isn't really easily done; a good welder could do it, but it's quite possible you may be paying more than that anvil costs in the first place. It may be possible to hot-rivet a plate on top and have it milled flat afterwards, but putting rivet holes in the iron body will weaken it, so it's up to you.

You could spark-test it with an angle grinder to ascertain whether it's actually iron or cast steel. If it turns out to be steel, it can be salvaged by heat-treating... which is a difficult operation with something that big.

Google may be helpful; I'm sure there are blacksmith forums where people have broached similar questions to yours as HF is a fairly common source of cheap tools and I imagine similar situations with cast iron anvils have arisen.

I suggest you find a small block or stake anvil from Old World Anvils:
http://www.oldworldanvils.com/anvils/4x4-stake-anvil.html

In the meantime, the HF anvil is not *completely* useless. It will do for a piece to learn on until you save up the sum for anvil plus shipping. There are more on that website if you're looking for something else as well.



Thank you so much for your reply Jeffery, I really do appreciate it. Okay, well then I reckon I'll use the cast iron one to make my first go around of mistakes and not get all anxious about it. I'll be sure to check out the website you advised.

Again, thank you much indeed.

Timothy
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