Skarzs the Cave Troll
  Hey, all! Been a little while, hasn't it?

  So, what are your thoughts on homemade anvils? I think we can all pretty much agree that RR track anvils are trash, but I'm talking about the kind of anvils people have cobbled or fabricated together. 
  If you Google image search "homemade anvil", you will find a plethora of creations, some that seem practical and may actually be long-lasting and useful tools, and many that are. . . uhhh. . . (Oh, wow, what the flip did they do? Look at that one, looks like they. . . did they. . . ? They did. Ouch. And that one is. . . yikes. Okay, that one isn't too bad, but horns aren't usually blocks. . .) 
  Yeah. At least they tried? Maybe?

  Here's a few issues I see with many of the homemade anvils I've seen.
  1. Improperly shaped horn: Yes, there's a use for square horns, but round horns have been used for centuries for a reason. This can be fixed with various tools, and it just seems silly for it to not have been done when so much work may have been put into the rest of it.
  2. Mass: Even if it is mild steel, with vertical mass a hunk of steel will have more rebound and energy than something with very little. People have used RR track tie plates for anvils, and it just doesn't do much of anything. 
  3. Hardness: The hardness of a material does make a difference. As Technicus Joe demonstrated in a recent video, hot material, which is softer, has considerably less rebound than the same material when it is cold, and thus harder. This doesn't perfectly apply to anvils since heat affects energy in a much different way, but it is still similar. Often there is a tendency to use mild steel, which isn't too bad, but isn't anywhere near a good, hard-faced anvil. Hard-face welding rod is hard, but is thin, and the softer material underneath may squish out, much like traditional anvils, but with the possibility of doing so much more quickly.
  4. Construction: This point has to do with the two previous. Even if something has a hardened face or a good amount of mass, the contruction of the anvil is often not completely solid. (This is, of course, not entirely surprising since forging or cutting an anvil out of solid stock is not easily done.) One way around this is to have the body of the anvil made of plates going vertical rather than flat, and welded together with a good bevel and deep penetration. But then, what about the face? Though hardened, if not connected through and through to the body, energy is lost to vibration rather than redirection. A file set on an anvil, though held down, will not deliver the same rebound as the anvil itself, because it is not well-connected to the body. In addition to that, there may be the risk of cracking from even the tiniest of space between the two surfaces.
  Forge welding may be next to impossible, and unless one wants to grind massive bevels and fill in a huge amount of weld, there's not much they can do. Or is there? I have yet to test it, but I believe that if plug welds are used throughout the plate, there will be much less energy lost. Plug welds for this project would be done by drilling holes into the material, through both the top plate and into the body, and then filled with weld, likely with a stick welder.

  I am making an anvil by filling up the sides of a RR track with weld, and welding on a top plate in the manner described in the last point. We'll see how well it works.

  So those are just my thoughts on some issues with homemade anvils. What are yours?
Cave of Skarzs
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Metalmelt
Anyone that even speaks of making their own anvil is usually ridiculed and driven from the forum. I'm speaking of other forums of course, that's why I have liked this forum. It is more open minded and realistic. Not everyone can afford to drop a grand on an anvil and old ones are getting very hard to find now days. On the other hand, Brian Brazeal (spelling?) has a block of steel he uses. It's just a 3" by 12" by 12" block of a low to medium carbon steel. He uses it on edge and works well for him, especially in his travels. Everyone seems fine with that.  ??

I never thought of filling a rail section with weld. I thought about filling the sides in with cast iron and then flattening and re-hardening the rail surface. I have had plans on a way to cast my own steel anvil, which everyone on blacksmith sites and home casting sites say is impossible. So, of course I have to do it. I just haven't had the energy or money to get the set-up together. I'm on hold now from starting any big projects since we may be moving soon. Cast Iron one would be castable if you have a cupola, but they tend to be dead. I got a piece of A1 plate to try to cast some iron to it. Sloss furnace has an iron casting class sometimes for up to 200# or so of iron. I don't know if they would let me put the plate in the mold.

I you happened to see the newest Forged in Fire, one of the finalist only had a coal forge and what looked like a 3/4" plate welded to an I-beam for an anvil. He made a good looking viking sword but it would barely "Keeeiill" due to edge geometry and sharpness. The other fellows cable damascus was really good and performed well on the tests. It would have been hard for anyone to beat him.
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Skarzs the Cave Troll
It really is the worker who makes the tool useful, not the other way around. (However, I think good tools help the good worker become better.)
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Metalmelt
Correct tools always makes things easier for the worker. Doesn't seem like a big deal when your young but it is when your 60. All the extra effort and abuse catches up in the end.

If i had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. [biggrin]  [frown]
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mtforge
I think if I had to make my own anvil I would split out the horn and the face. Buy a large mass of steel for the main body and radius a small amount of one end for drawing out. Then have a bick close by to roll hooks or such on. Also a hardy hole or just the post vise to set tooling in as needed. The English pattern is nice but not totally necessary
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Skarzs the Cave Troll
True, and that can be more simple, but having more than one tool takes up more space, and the idea of making an anvil with a hardy and horn is an interesting challenge. 
Paul Krzysz has some videos of him making two anvils, including the horn and hardy, as well as a face he hardened himself. He still uses them today, so they're still useful.
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mtforge
I looked up Paul Krzysz. Very impressive. He ends up with a very serviceable anvil. I also came across   http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/anvils/making/gallery.php  for ideas.
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Skarzs the Cave Troll
Fascinating.
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