Benchtop Anvil

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Sideways

Moderator
Moderator
UKW Supporter
Joined
26 Dec 2017
Messages
3,758
Reaction score
2,115
Location
United Kingdom
Nothing fancy here, just sharing a couple of photos of cleaning up some old light gauge rail to use as a benchtop anvil for tin smithing.

The metal is the point of interest. Dating back to the 1800's it is scrap rail from canal side coal yards. Wrought iron. Scrap pieces like this were commonly tossed into the bottom of narrowboats (barges) to counterbalance the weight of the cast iron solid fuel stove that was always installed against one side of the boat.

Several barges sink each year and when they are recovered, ancient rusty scrap like this is pulled from the hulls.

This piece went on a mill to true up the top and bottom surfaces. The lower part is thinner and cleaned up to give good edges for shaping 90 degree bends. The thicker top had more rust and damage so I left the edges and radiused them with an angle grinder.
Fettling was simply done with a flap disc followed by a Norton blue rapid blend disc. Wire wheel to take the loose rust off the web.

20221108_162204.jpg



Interesting flake shape to the chips. I wasn't pushing hard, they came off light straw colour with just a little blue at the edge.
By accident, not design, I believe that I did right in keeping wrought iron well doused in coolant from a spray bottle. Cast iron by contrast is better cut dry.


20221108_162216.jpg


20221206_134253.jpg


20221206_134318.jpg


Wrought isn't a bad choice. It's tough, malleable stuff so there's no chance of me breaking this nor will I ever use it enough to wear it hollow. Many old anvils were made of wrought for toughness with a harder wearing top layer forge welded on the top.

20221206_134339.jpg


See the waviness where I've chased the deepest rust pockets :)

20221206_134305.jpg



This is a bit over a foot long. The section is much smaller than main line rail.

Anyone else have small / improvised anvil pics, tips or interesting uses to share ?
 
Good anvils are cast steel, not cast iron. (So I've read.) Cast iron like the cheap Chinesium ones make your wrists ache.
I have a 25kg anvil, but I bought an old sledge hammer head at the weekend to shape and polish to make a small anvil for silver jewellery work.
https://anvils.co.uk/is quite interesting.
 
Nothing fancy here, just sharing a couple of photos of cleaning up some old light gauge rail to use as a benchtop anvil for tin smithing.


Anyone else have small / improvised anvil pics, tips or interesting uses to share ?
Not really. All I wanted was something heavy. I cut a foot of rail (no idea if it was wrought) into two, using a hacksaw ;-)
Hasn't worn out yet!

Lovely surface you've left there.
 
I acquired this piece think it was a form for a press weighs just under 14 kg suits my needs and uses. other piece I use for forming curves and doming



20221206_165521.jpg
20221206_165611.jpg
20221206_170302.jpg
20221206_170809.jpg
 
Last edited:
nice, i have a anvil made from a piece of forklift fork... i only ever really hammer bronze on it, works well, the local foprge owner sells them occasionally once he's welded bases on so you can mount them.
 
I see old bits of rail an I think 'lathe bed!'. That's a nice wee job you have done there. Love the old deep rust texture you have left. This is my little old 28 pounder anvil, (JB, John Brooks?) very abused when I got it. Top gets rubbed with diamond block periodically. One day all the marks will come out. Only gets used for silver work. I've lump of 4"dia bar end about 6 inches long I faced for rough work
 

Attachments

  • 16704256078233334351858100159532.jpg
    16704256078233334351858100159532.jpg
    1.4 MB · Views: 0
  • 16704256390452682179291578046204.jpg
    16704256390452682179291578046204.jpg
    1.4 MB · Views: 0
  • 1670425682307117906863681320941.jpg
    1670425682307117906863681320941.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 0
Nothing fancy here, just sharing a couple of photos of cleaning up some old light gauge rail to use as a benchtop anvil for tin smithing.

The metal is the point of interest. Dating back to the 1800's it is scrap rail from canal side coal yards. Wrought iron. Scrap pieces like this were commonly tossed into the bottom of narrowboats (barges) to counterbalance the weight of the cast iron solid fuel stove that was always installed against one side of the boat.

Several barges sink each year and when they are recovered, ancient rusty scrap like this is pulled from the hulls.

This piece went on a mill to true up the top and bottom surfaces. The lower part is thinner and cleaned up to give good edges for shaping 90 degree bends. The thicker top had more rust and damage so I left the edges and radiused them with an angle grinder.
Fettling was simply done with a flap disc followed by a Norton blue rapid blend disc. Wire wheel to take the loose rust off the web.

View attachment 148667


Interesting flake shape to the chips. I wasn't pushing hard, they came off light straw colour with just a little blue at the edge.
By accident, not design, I believe that I did right in keeping wrought iron well doused in coolant from a spray bottle. Cast iron by contrast is better cut dry.


View attachment 148668

View attachment 148664

View attachment 148669

Wrought isn't a bad choice. It's tough, malleable stuff so there's no chance of me breaking this nor will I ever use it enough to wear it hollow. Many old anvils were made of wrought for toughness with a harder wearing top layer forge welded on the top.

View attachment 148666

See the waviness where I've chased the deepest rust pockets :)

View attachment 148665


This is a bit over a foot long. The section is much smaller than main line rail.

Anyone else have small / improvised anvil pics, tips or interesting uses to share ?

I haven't got a picture to share, but my house came with a machinist's bench and rail track anvil that the ill tempered prior owner said he was going to take and then never did. It is modern rail, though, probably 1084 steel.

The way it's set up against a storage shelf has always been unhandy for anything other than peining, though, and the section is only about 6" long. I generally use a 125 pound soderfors pattern anvil that appears to be cast and definitely has a hardened steel layer on top (electrically welded?). Would love to have one double the size for shaping tools, but such a thing is $1000-$1500 now.

Would also not mind having a much longer section of rail to do lighter duty work and to have something easier to recondition to fresh edges and keep polished and clean.

Your finished result looks great. The pitting adds almost a hand hammered look even though that wouldn't make any sense on rail - it still looks visually interesting.

EDIT: Just looked at proven sale prices. Last 122 pound soderfors that sold was for $850 plus tax and freight, and not in perfect condition. Depressing.

the significance of 250 pounds is that an average middle age male who at some point learned how to lift things can lift it. Above that, it can be sketchy. Anvils are so compact and so close to you when you lift them that they feel like they weigh less than they actually do. A 125 pound anvil is definitely much easier to lift and move around than an 85 pound guitar amplifier. A very clean 250 pound anvil without much sway, good bounce and crisp corners is probably over $2000.

There must be an explosion of hobby blacksmithing on YT or something. (make fun if you wish, I've never clicked on those videos because blacksmiths and toolmakers usually don't have too much intersection - and thus, I get served more junk from amazon-linking youtubers "reviewing" tools because of my other internet traffic, I guess).
 
Last edited:
I acquired this piece think it was a form for a press weighs just under 14 kg suits my needs and uses. other piece I use for forming curves and doming



View attachment 148679View attachment 148680View attachment 148681View attachment 148682
looking at your dolly brought a grin. I had been looking for a small anvil for repairing watch cases without much success. At a friends they have had a proper coffee machine for years, and have accumulated loads of related stuff. Suffice to say I now have acquired a heavy stainless coffee tamper, absolutely perfect ;)
 
There must be an explosion of hobby blacksmithing on YT or something.
I think there is.
OK they focus on the drama more than the blacksmithing but Forged in Fire on TV has introduced a lot of people to forging that would never have seen it otherwise and the spin off "Forged" series' including the one with the British kid Alex Steele who started on youtube before emigrating to the US wouldn't have been made if people weren't watching them.
 
British kid Alex Steele

oh no...he's over here now?

when i started making chisels and some knives, I heard "forged in fire" a dozen times before I looked it up. I've watched two of the seasons - the first one (murray carter and another guy are in an episode at the end and they put on a clinic, which turned out to be too boring and unrelatable for the average person). What took shape after that is just nonsense - people heating steel to near yellow heat to quench it and making all kinds of nonsense because they are probably working day to day doing mostly cut/shape/electric furnace.

But I'll bet you're right - it moves wallets toward anvils.

I looked at peddinghaus anvils yesterday - we're getting closer to the point where a peddinghaus anvil is about the same price as vintage, and in some cases less. Unfortunately, that's occurred while peddinghaus anvils have gone up. when I got my anvil, a nice 250 pound anvil with a cast steel hardened top (trenton, etc) would've been about $750 in good shape. too bad. it's a decision really of indulge or not, or actually do something that's a lost art - use something and wear it out before replacing it.

youtube is starting to serve me blacksmithing shorts, not sure why, but they don't include any making - they include talking about what you need or don't need in a blacksmith shop, which makes me think they follow the typical format. If you go to the video, you find a bunch of stealth sponsored stuff and revenue links. We'd be better off if someone just illegally filmed peter ross.
 
I once heard someone use the description "chipmunk on steroids".
Can't remember who they were talking about but it was hilarious and the mention of young Mr Steele always brings it back to mind.
If you've ever seen a chipmunk doing vertical laps of an enclosure at 900mph, you'll get it/
Soooo energetic !
 
I once heard someone use the description "chipmunk on steroids".
Can't remember who they were talking about but it was hilarious and the mention of young Mr Steele always brings it back to mind.
If you've ever seen a chipmunk doing vertical laps of an enclosure at 900mph, you'll get it/
Soooo energetic !

he's a likable guy. it's not my style, but it will definitely attract a lot of attention - people buy something unfamiliar based on feelings, he's got a good gig going.

I was pondering after reading that you said he moved here why he would move to the US, but I would imagine there are two very good reasons:
1) you get paid more for ad revenue in the US than you do anywhere else in the world
2) the US market is probably the key market for his merch, which appears to be heavily biased toward the expensive T shirt and pants type stuff, but that isn't expensive enough to make it worth buying from overseas

And it could also be a real estate cost issue, though I've heard prices for rural England, etc that probably aren't a lot different than Montana. Montana is like a different country vs. the rust belt suburbs where I live.

i was jokingly going to say that if he was anywhere within the shores by now, I'm surprised I haven't seen him bounce up over the horizon or hear him talking from a few hundred or thousand miles away.

the last thing I saw was the making of a whole bunch of hammers. At least he's not afraid of getting his hands dirty. I sort of expected to see that his key business was becoming setting up a blacksmithing school really targeted at unhappy white collar workers (also profitable in the US), but that doesn't look to be the case.

totally aside, I'm glad you posted this thread. The results look great and it reminds me of something I forgot to do (buy a longer section of track), vs. something I never fail to do (whine about the personal inconvenience of the most recent anvil prices).
 
PXL_20221208_144257240.jpg



These were eBay whims of mine a few years back. I've no real use for them but couldn't resist as they're so cute! Maybe they could be used for jewelry work, though I've never investigated what they are made of.
Lots of these were made to be used as samples or sales gimmicks by the anvil manufacturers back in the day apparently. Though I suspect that the blue one may not be of genuine vintage. Reading the great article on buying anvils, posted above, with it's reference to the ubiquitous blue colour of cheap modern examples arosed my suspicions.

Lovely job on the Rail Anvil by the way.

I've been watching some of this guy's stuff on YouTube recently, enjoying it. Gary Huston. I don't have much experience of watching this kind of thing but I'm pretty sure he's genuine. Very down to earth, doesn't appear to be trying to make me buy shiny, expensive stuff and you've never seen a more untidy, dirty workshop!


 

Latest posts

Back
Top