Anvil

So I want to try my hand at forging some knives and have slowly been buying the required items. Of course, I’m going to need an anvil. On this, I’m kind of lost as to what I need and looking for some advice from our experienced crew here. I am wanting to mainly just forge knives maybe in total length in the 9-10 inch range so nothing incredibly large for now. I was told I need something at least 55 lbs but others disagree. Also, I don’t mind spending to get a decent tool but I am on a budget. I’m hoping for something maybe in the $150-200 range. Is that even a possibility? The stuff I am finding I can’t figure out if it is good or bad and then course I know it can also depend on what exactly they are using it for.

Secondly, I was thinking about investing in a belt grinder. I think this could assist with other projects as well. I don’t think I need something again huge. From most of what I read the Grizzly 1" with the disc sander is a good beginner. Then when I read the reviews online at amazon it doesn’t speak too highly. Any recommendations here on those? Thanks as always in advance.

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I’ve seen healthy anvils running about 1k

I often see them and a quick check confirms on craigslist

(1st time new)

if you’re on a budget find a piece of railroad track and fashion your own

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I haven’t checked prices in a while, but decent used anvils were running around $2 a pound (and up), several years ago.

If the anvil is too light for what you are doing, you are going to have problems, but having ‘too big’ an anvil is mainly an issue that comes up when you have to move it. Something around 100 pounds (of decent quality and condition) is unlikely to disappoint you (not too heavy to move, and not too light for a starting anvil).

Years ago, somebody told me that it’s a good idea to keep a large (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch, or so) ball bearing in your pocket, if you are looking at used anvils. A quick way to tell if an anvil is ‘bad’, is to lightly tap various spots of the workface with a hammer and listen. If it has a consistent ‘ting, ting, ting’ sound all across the workface, then the hardened workface has not separated from the softer core of the anvil. Cast anvils are a little different, in that only the high end of the cast anvils (cast anvils are generally considered the low end of anvil quality) have a hardened steel workface attached (during the casting process) to the softer core. The rest of the cast anvils are cast as a single piece, then the workface is hardened (after polishing, to some degree) through some form of heat treating.

Some people tend to get bent out of shape if you start tapping on their anvil with a hammer (and hammers are harder to carry around than a ball bearing), and this is where the ball bearing comes into play. Hold the ball bearing 10 inches or so above the workface, then drop it. In addition to listening for the ‘ting’ on impact with the workface, watch how high the ball bearing bounces. If it has a good quality workface, the ball bearing will bounce back almost to the height you dropped it from. Softer workfaces (which are not limited to poor/cheap manufacturing, but can also be an indication that a good quality anvil was ruined by being in a building that burned down, destroying the heat treat) will result in the ball bearing bouncing back to a lower height. The lower the bounce, the more of the impact energy the anvil is absorbing (soaking it up in it’s core). You don’t want the anvil absorbing the impact like that, as it is taking energy that should be going to forming the piece you are working on (you will wear yourself out, using an anvil like that).

You can probably assume that most new cast anvils are worthless for bladesmithing, or any other type of smithing. I have a 24 pound cast anvil that I bought new, a couple decades ago, and it sits on my toolbox at work. The face is soft, but it does OK for cold working aluminum. If I had intended to use it for hot work with steel, I probably would have destroyed it in a matter of days (anything more than a light hit with a 12 ounce hammer leaves a dent in the workface). The example Robert provided is likely a decent anvil, even though it is cast, but the price reflects that quality.

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Thanks

That is a lot of good information.

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So after looking around and debating. Im thinking this might be a good anvil for me to start with.

https://www.centaurforge.com/NC-70-lbs-Knifemaker-Anvil/productinfo/18NCKNIFE/

I was wondering if I could get some feedback if anyone has any experience with it or the brand. Thanks!

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Given the price, surface size and fact you’re starting off I’d reconsider

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Done and ordered. I don’t think I will find much better of a deal. This is great and wont cost me nearly so much to find out how much I want to go with it and also will be a lot easier to move around for me since I’m disabled and have limited room.

Any ideas on good deals for tongs? I don’t think Ill really need a lot of different ones but I don’t know really which ones I will need.

Thanks again

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Yeah, you need to forge a set :rofl:

thats cool I hope that gets you started well :+1:

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I’ve been workin’ on the railroad, all the live long day…

:grinning:

Nice score!

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I’ve seen examples of people ‘getting by’ when they were starting out, by welding a couple lengths of 3/8" round stock onto a pair of pliers, to extend the handles and convert the pliers into crude tongs. Just be aware that the reason that there is such a wide variety of tongs, is that the jaws of each set is usually made for a specific purpose (holding round stock of a certain size, holding flat stock, holding square stock of a certain size, etc). This leads to many of the tongs being made by the user, to get the exact jaw shape needed (and it’s good practice).

The importance of having the correct jaw shape for what you are doing, really sinks in when you have a railroad spike heated up to the upper end of red, give it a good hit with the hammer, and the impact jars it loose from the tongs (which weren’t quite the right shape, but you thought they were close enough) and it sails up over your shoulder (passing close enough to your ear for you to hear the sizzle as it goes by), finally landing on the packed clay floor behind you, where the intense heat of the railroad spike sets fire to the organic material that is mixed into the clay.

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