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Anvils: What type of metal?


#1

Jim, I really appreciate your info on this. I never gave my anvil
much thought. Mine is a 12 inch section of railroad track, given to
me by the same guy who made my tumbler from the refrigerator motor
and the 3rd hand from toilet parts… In addition to its certain
rustic charm, the railroad track has worked great for me for many
years.

Peggy Wilson
Harbor Jewelers


#2

Rail is typically a reasonably good steel for a small anvil

James Binnion


#3
Mine is a 12 inch section of railroad track, [snip] (it) has
worked great for me for many years. 

I have no info on what railroad track is made of, but if it is *used
track, it would sure as heck be work hardened!

Noel


#4
Mine is a 12 inch section of railroad track, 

Those type of anvils have been used by Native American silversmiths
for years. I can imagine they would get quite a hard surface after
years of many tons of rail cars and engines rolling over them with
steel wheels. They are a much better than the POC anvils sold by
Harbor Freight. I tried one and the first time I tried to flatten a
piece of sterling silver twisted wire it left the impression of the
wire in the surface of the anvil. It is now a rusty door stop as
indicated by others on this list as the most useful application of
Harbor Freight anvils.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
rockymountainwonders.com


#5

That’s really good to know. How would so mebody go about getting a
piece of rail road track?

Liz


#6
That's really good to know. How would so mebody go about getting a
piece of rail road track? 

As Kay has this vision of someone carefully beavering away with a
hacksaw in the dead of night on the main line, replying Easy…

Call Scrap metal dealers, or if you see a repair crew from the local
railway at work, asking nicely often works. At worst they will tell
you who to contact in the local railroad company.

Kay


#7
That's really good to know. How would so mebody go about getting a
piece of rail road track? 

A big hacksaw, lots of time (stuff is really difficult to cut) and a
good train schedule. Safer and more legal maybe a bunch of coffees
and donuts and a smile at the local rail yard. Strange weird people
with bizarre requests tend to break the boredom of a 9 to 5 job.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#8

Is there a metal scrap yard anywhere near? And,wandering through the
yard is a wonderful experience also. Lots of interesting “sights.”


#9
Rail is typically a reasonably good steel for a small anvil 

James is correct, rail makes a good anvil, especially a used piece
of track, the surface is extremely dense due to trains compressing
the grains.

If you want it cleaner you will need to mill the top of the rail to
give you a flat face to work off. You can break tools, so go slow.

My Dad lost my bit of rail… I have no idea how he did this, it was
quite large, so I had to buy a replacement anvil, not the best anvil
but it does the trick.

Regards Charles


#10

Liz,

I found a couple on Ebay after searching railroad anvil.

Jamie


#11

I inherited a chunk of RR iron but the darn thing is so heavy I
can’t lift it to put it in the truck to have the metal fab shop cut
it down into smaller pieces for my sons-in-law. They are young,
maybe they can lift it! :wink:

John
Indiana


#12

A blacksmith buddy mentioned that a hardened steel plate should be
welded to the top of an anvil. I never had that done with either of
my Harbor Freight units, both are nice door stops. I now have a very
old 200 pound anvil and notice, it has a welded steel plate too.

Jerry


#13

Blacksmiths call those cheap, soft “anvils” ASO’s: Anvil-Shaped
Objects. They are only suitable for use with a rawhide or plastic
mallet, for gently straightening things.

M’lou


#14
That's really good to know. How would so mebody go about getting a
piece of rail road track?

I have two…bought both on ebay believe it or not. A short section
(1 foot) fits in the flat rate Priority box even. There was plenty
of competition. I bought them because that was what we used for fold
forming at William Holland.

My daughter found a large section about 8 ft long just laying
alongside the rail bed but she had no way to cart it home or cut it
up in situ so had to leave it. I would think that they might leave
the section more times than not.


#15
Rail is typically a reasonably good steel for a small anvil 

When I grew up on the farm, everyone had chunks of rail. I remember
spending hours straightening cut nails on one.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#16

I don’t know. I do not recall seeing any where I live (Jersey City,
NJ btw). Living next door to NYC there is a lot of rail mass
transit, I could contact at least 2 major transit authorities.
However, I have a feeling everything is automatically recycled.

Liz


#17

Re: Railroad track

It’s what I’ve always used.

I dreamt about buying a real anvil once but the railroad track works
fine.

The hardest parts were polishing the top surface. I use bobbing
compound on a stitched muslin wheel followed by Pumpkin (platinum)
polish and I rub it regularly with Brown’s Snake Oil to prevent
rust.

The other hard part was drilling the four holes to bolt it to my
stump. Instead of buying an expensive carbide drill bit, I used .223
cal armor piercing rounds. Except for the one that ricochet (sp?) off
the thick spot and lodged in my hip, it all went swimmingly.


#18
Blacksmiths call those cheap, soft "anvils" ASO's: Anvil-Shaped
Objects. They are only suitable for use with a rawhide or plastic
mallet, for gently straightening things. 

My first anvil was a piece of rail track, my second was a chunk of
steel embedded in a bucket of concrete, my current anvil is a ductile
iron anvil, it’s horrible, but it does the job.

I was thinking of fabricating one to suit my needs.

Regards Charles


#19
My daughter found a large section about 8 ft long just laying
alongside the rail bed but she had no way to cart it home or cut
it up in situ so had to leave it. I would think that they might
leave the section more times than not. 

Do not get caught taking a piece of “scrap” rail from a railroad
rail bed. That is theft and the railroad companies will prosecute.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#20
my current anvil is a ductile iron anvil, it's horrible, but it
does the job. I was thinking of fabricating one to suit my needs. 

Interesting thread… I think one important thing that hasn’t been
broached is what you need an anvil FOR. I have a 40 year old ductile
iron anvil that’s a couple of pounds - with like a four inch surface
and you can lift it in one hand. When I talked about stamping metal
for 40 hours a week, I did it on that. The softer steel was to my
advantage because it prolonged tool life. I have several tool steel
bench blocks we use for what jewelers do with such things. For
heavier pounding I’ll often use the flat on the back of my big vise,
which is no prize, in surface texture. I don’t like railroad tracks,
even though we have one, because of the curved top.

Now, if you’re taking up blacksmithing or heavy raising and forging,
then you need to drop Jim’s ball bearing on the surface and get a
$2500 anvil - just google it…

http://www.oldworldanvils.com/anvils

is one I came up with.

But if it’s just a surface to pound on now and then, it’s overkill
in size and money - certainly I don’t need such a thing, though the
"toolie" in me desires one…

I assume the original poster on this thread has a real need for
asking, but for others who are reading this thread and thinking they
need a big old anvil in the middle of the room, you might pause and
ask yourself why? There’s all sorts of things you can bang on if
it’s just casual and occasional, like me. But many people really do
need and use the big boys…