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Home made anvil

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by oil pan 4, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+

    You know you want one, but you don't have one, or maybe one isn't enough?
    A real steel anvil is expensive. A real steel anvil weighs 250lb. Most of the expense is in the shipping for a new one and even used local ones demand around $1/lb.
    Sure you can buy a cheap cast iron one that was made in china.
    Problem is these are made from cast iron can be kind of soft or kind of brittle. That means you hammer dents into it as you use it or even worse you can small break chunks of sharp cast iron off it as you hammer it that can fly a good distance or you could break a big 5lb chunk off it with sharp edges and have it fall on your foot.

    So my solution was to get a section for rail road track from the scrap yard because its made of steel and cheap, at 15 cents per pound. Then make it more anvil shaped.
    Also I don't need a 250+lb anvil.

    First I carved out circular sections of the anvil to make it lighter with my miller spectrum 625 plasma cutter because I do move mine around.
    Second I noticed that the rail road track is very soft. I will need to cap it with something a little harder.
    The first step there is adding metal to it build up a pad to hammer on with 3/16 inch 7024 electrode. 7024 electrode isn't ideal for impact resistance so I am going to top it with 7018 and cap it with hard facing rod. Then use a needle descaler to remove every bit of slag between layers of weld. I am going to have the local machine shop mill down this pad so its nice and flat I asked them if they can mill through high impact hard facing electrode and it shouldn't be a problem. A lot of hard facing rods recommend putting down a layer of 7018 before hardfacing electrode unless the steel is above a certain hardness. I have a feeling soft railroad track steel isn't that hard.

    I can use my 230 amp AC and DC stick welding machine for this.

    You could weld a piece of mild steel, A36 structural steel or AR500 to the anvil but it could potentially break off. For light duty stuff welding on a top plate would be fine, but not for me.
    IMG_0864.JPG IMG_0865.JPG
    I have not welded on it for a while, I left it in the back yard and it got rained on for a few months.
    chelloveck, Aeason, Ganado and 6 others like this.
  2. Tempstar

    Tempstar Losing Patience Site Supporter+

    I've used my 2' long piece of railway iron for 30 years as-is. Never thought of hard facing it, but haven't had any problems with it deforming. I cut mine like you did, but there weren't any plasma cutters back then.
    Aeason and Tully Mars like this.
  3. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    I too have a rail anvil. Train wheels will over the years work harden the rail's top surface. Mine is adequately hard and have had no problems as is. YMMV...

    Aeason, Tully Mars, Ganado and 3 others like this.
  4. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey+

    I had a RR anvil years ago and it sufficed for what I was doing then without a hard top, but the steel was on the soft side. Another way to achieve a harder topped anvil is through heat treatment as described by Alexander Weygers in his book THE MODERN BLACKSMITH.
    Aeason and Dunerunner like this.
  5. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I have handled several RR anvils and for their convenience it's good enough till I can afford the real thing.
    Later I'll show one I made from pipe and an I beam.
    It's different than the standard anvil, but it served exactly the way I needed it at the time.
    If no one makes what I want, I make it my self .
    Being really hard is not necessary , if your working with a forge .
    Any marring you might accomplish, can be ground off in due course. (if it's really necessary .)
  6. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    1465149525267-675438572. 1465149587472-215223169. i've been using this one for at least 20yrs even using mauls on it, i see no dents. I've formed thousands of parts here, over time. I think you are working harder at it than necessary. They are useful.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
    chelloveck, Ganado and marlas1too like this.
  7. marlas1too

    marlas1too Monkey++

    I have a 100 pound anvil I got years ago and have never done anything with it.got it for my son hoping he would try blacksmithing ---nope sad too I even got hammers and tongs
    kellory likes this.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    What part of the country are you in? I might be interested it it for armor making.
    marlas1too likes this.
  9. marlas1too

    marlas1too Monkey++

    wv outside of martinsburg wv.
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I'm in ohio, PM headed your way.
    marlas1too likes this.
  11. Bishop

    Bishop Monkey+

    i am useing one take off of the cedar key rail road way back in the day older than i am.
  12. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey Site Supporter+

    Like others have already said, I too have made several anvils out of rail iron over the years. Most end up being given away, but I have a good sized one here. I do take the time to shape them like a standard anvil with a tapered nose and a squared heel. They have always been plenty hard for what was needed. I've never left a mark from a hammer or tool on them.

    Just my [2c]
  13. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+

    I was expecting my steel track to be work hardened and much stronger than it is.
    Hammer blows and cold work were notching and cratering the track much to my surprise.
    And no one said to stop posting that anvil porn.
  14. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    Presumably track comes from different manufactures and certainly different dates of manufacture. Maybe there is a lot of variance in the metal composition and heat treatment. All I can say is I have beat on my RR anvil a lot over the years and it has held up pretty well.
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Alright, we have a former railroad thermite welder, working for us. I asked about the rails.
    1)all of the old rail is very hard, and gets work hardened.
    2) there are different specs on rail, depending on where it is used.
    3) there are three grades currently in use, and they can be determined by the width of the base plate.
    4)ALL of the main line rail, is the highest level of hardness, yards and sidings use the lesser grades, but all of it will withstand hammer blows, considering the stress loads it is designed for, and will make good anvil material.
    5) the wider the base plate, the harder the steel, because higher stress rail, requires the most stability.
    6) the harder the rail, the more shock up your arm when it is struck with a hammer.
    (As per our ex-railroad thermite welder.)
    One glance, and he determined my chunk is old, work hardened, yard rail.
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