|I've been interested
in blacksmithing for many years, and recently managed to assemble the
proper equipment so that I'd be able to give it the proper go. In early
2007, I aquired a well-abused anvil,
a bucket of hammers hardly worth the name, a second bucket of marginal
tongs, a Champion
400 blower in good condition, and a Cole vise.
The Cole is a poor substitute for a good leg vise, but has it's uses (it's more portable than the one on the welding bench) and I had no interest in using coal for a forge, so the Champ was sold to another amateur 'smith.
I rehandled the better third of the hammers, and in addition, in a fit of passing but not uncommon insanity, built myself a somewhat more personalized hammer from a cheap flea-market dreg. Next, lacking a good Oak stump, I made a proper stand for the anvil, and built the first of my own design of atmospheric propane burners, using only stacked yellow firebrick as a poor but at least functional forge.
|Due to their weight
and thus shipping costs, anvils are fairly rare up
here in Alaska, so it was worth the effort to repair this one, rather
than simply buy a better one.
Over the course of many months, I applied MIG welds to rebuild the broken and blunted horn, and to bring the badly dished table back up to snuff.
The main face, after much research and not a few experiments, I repaired using the TIG and some screen-door springs from the hardware store.
No, I'm not kidding.
The spring wire is probably 1095, or about .90% carbon, and small beads essentially self-quench to file-hard. No special hardfacing rod needed, just lots of patience, a good TIG, lots of argon, and a couple of $2.25 screen door springs. And a good belt-sander with lots of elbow grease.
|Once the anvil was
back into shape,
the poor stack-of-firebrick forge was next. I'd aquired some Kao-Wool,
and devised a plan for a simple and easy propane forge. A simple tray
of scrap angle iron, some expanded metal, and a couple of tabs, a
single yellow (hard) firebrick,
two layers of KaoWool
in an arch, a simple chunk of scrap sheetmetal as a cover, and
a few scraps of shear leavings to bolt the burner
to. The burner is my own version
of the typical atmospheric style, with a large (and as it turns out,
greatly oversized) intake bell, a jet made of stainless
instrument tubing and the usual .024" MIG tip,
and the whole mess finished with a few scraps MIGged up front as a
||A little experimenting with
pressure, jet placement and choking off the intake (masking tape!)
and the new forge, less than three hours since I started, was up to low yellow heat
I have since added sheetmetal chokes to the end bell, alowing better on-the-fly adjusting as the forge heats up, and the second-gen will have a smaller bell to start with.
Once the newer burners are built and proven, I plan on making a somewhat more proper forge, but at the moment, given my current low skill level, what I have is more than sufficient to practice with.
|Some highlights of
the anvil repair:
Spalled crater at the heel, almost 3/16" deep: Going, going, gone!
Grinding away the rust and pits in perparation for welding.
An early experiment: Rusty and chipped, most of the rust ground out, roller bearings used as filler rod, welded and ground. The bearings worked well, giving a hard bead and little tendency to crack if not built up too far, but were very, very slow to use. The screen-door spring actually seemed to provide a harder weld, and was considerably faster to use.
The anvil turned out to be a 140-pound Peter Wright, dated sometime between 1885 and 1910. It has a "tool" steel face forge-welded to a wrought-iron body, in my preferred classic "London" pattern. It had clearly had a long and hard life, with extensive use by large burly men with biceps larger than either their hat size or IQ.
|The bulk of the face is still
original (albeit slightly thinner than new) and my repairs are nearly
as hard, so I have confidence it has decades more life in it.
I've had many people suggest that I "blunt" the point of the horn, to reduce the chances of injury. My reply is usually to point out that, as a blacksmith, one is already using large and heavy clubs to beat on pieces of yellow-hot steel, while standing in front of a raging fire, in order to make things like knives, axes, fireplace pokers, nails and swords.
A pointy anvil is the least of your worries. If you can't avoid jabbing yourself in the thigh on your own anvil horn, I suggest taking up a different line of work.