Join the club. There are a lot of hobby smiths out there. I find using the forums a good place to ask questions and share ideas as well as find inspiration. Remember safety first. I hope you share your difficulties as well as you victories to help others become involved with the craft. I'm hoping to forge tongs this weekend with my children and nephew. I think letting them hammer some could spark their imagination and interest as well.
I think if it was painted prior to 1978 it probably is lead based paint.
Here are a few methods to remove paint.
There are several ways to remove lead-based paints:
- Wire brushing or wet hand scraping with the aid of a non-flammable solvent or abrasive compound. Liquid paint removers can be used on small areas, such as windowsills, doors and woodwork. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels before purchasing and using. It is important for workers to use personal protective equipment, such as gloves, safety glasses and disposable coveralls when using some paint removers.
- Wet hand sanding and/or power sanding with HEPA filters. Only wet hand sanding and/or an electric sander equipped with a HEPA filtered vacuum attachment should be used. Dry hand sanding should never be done.
- Heat stripping, using a low temperature (below 1100 degrees F) heat gun, followed by hand scraping. Heat guns pose a fire hazard, and make lead dust and vapors, so they should be used only by experienced workers wearing respirators.
The following methods of paint removal are hazardous and in some communities illegal, and should NOT be used:
- open flame burning or torching;
- machine sanding or grinding without a HEPA attachment;
- abrasive blasting or sand blasting;
- power washing without a method to trap water and paint chips.
Exterior work should be done on calm days, and wet-misting or vacuuming should be used to control lead dust and paint chips during removal. The ground around the building should be protected with heavy (6-mil) plastic sheets. The outer edges of the sheeting should be raised to trap dust, debris, and liquid wastes. Wastes should be disposed of properly, as described below.
As far as the anvil is concerned with the heat method, you don't want to overheat any particular area of the anvil because it might change the temper. Looks like stripper might be a good choice.