Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dressing an Anvil

Some interesting stuff I found today online about dressing an anvil.  I have not tried this yet, but will soon.  I have not verified this content, but I have posted it here for my own use.  Feel free to use it as you see fit, but not warranty is implied or stated, so caveat emptor!  :-)

The comments I found online are:
Ken Scharabok (responding to a post by Patdf)
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 8:01 am: Without knowing what your new anvil is (and whether it is brand new or just new to you), it is difficult to answer your question. Will assume brand new. If it is one of the Asian or Russian imports you can expect to dress up much more than the corners. While the top may be milled relatively flat, the horns usually still have the mold seams on them. If you do any work to the sides, don't be surprised to find body putty. (And, believe me, these anvils are much like a blind date. Don't expect it to look like the pictures.) If it is one of the American cast steel (e.g., farrier anvils) or European imports, then ask the seller for their recommendations. My recommendation would be to just knock off the edges if very sharp slightly. After you have used it for a while you can determine where and how much you might want to change the radii.
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 6:14 pm:
Ken and Dave, thanks for the reply, I neglected to state that it is a brand new anvil. It's a 175# Euroanvil, it has a round beak and a square beak on the opposite end with a shelve. I looked for used anvils for a while but couldn't find anything to speak of. And the prices are crazy for used for I think most are being picked up by collectors. I just wanted to work with it not look at it. I spoke with my dealer as suggested by Ken, and he stated to make about a 1/8 radius on the edges. This would be about the recommendation that Ken mentioned. Dave you mentioned to keep one edge square, I can see where that would help and be functional. But would I risk breaking an edge since I'm a begginner with not enough practice on hammer control. In my mind I'm thinking that if I put a slight radius all sides I don't risk a chipped anvil. Please advise. Thanks again. Regards, Pat
Ed Thomas (Ejthomas)
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 6:49 pm:
Patdf, The edges of the Euroanvil aren't particularly hard. The typical argument for grinding a small radius to protect the edge doesn't really apply to that anvil. Take a file and carefully check the edge and you will see what I mean. The edge won't chip off the same way a brittle face of an old anvil will. So you can safely leave the edge wherever you want it. Even on the "sharp" edges of my anvil, I tend to ease the edge just a little bit, but don't be in a hurry. You can always take more off, but it's darn hard to put it back on. Congratulations on your new anvil! I think you will like that one. May you have many hours of forging fun with it.

Rich Waugh (in another thread)
Friday, September 28, 2007 - 10:11pm
Jake, Congratulations on the new anvil. It should serve you well, particularly if you get it dressed to suit your needs.
I can tell you how I dress my anvils, and why, and you can determine what of that applies to you.
I radius the edges of my anvil's faces to prevent chipping and to prevent creating sharp inside corners in my work, which could create cold shuts that later become cracks. I use a fairly large radius on the far side, near the horn. The first four or five inches back from the front are radiused at about 3/16" radius, or 3/8" diameter - around the radius of a fountain pen. The radius then gets tighter as it progresses to the heel of the anvil. The front edge is treated much the same, but the radius is a bit smaller; perhaps 1/8" radius tapering to 1/16" at the heel.
The horns on all my anvils are close to a mirror polish, as are the faces. This is not absolutely necessary for most work, but I do some forging of bronze and brass, and occasionally silver, and I want to have as little clean-up work to do as possible after forging. Also, a smooth surface rusts slower than a rough surface. That matters where I live.
I don't get too excited about chamfering my hardy hole or pritchel holes, as I absolutely NEVER, ever, use a hardy shank that is a tight fit in the hole. For years I used anvils that were very old, with wrought iron bodies and steel faces or cast iron bodies and steel faces, and a tight tool in the hardy hole could, if beat heavily, wedged itself hard enough to crack a face plate. With my Nimba, or your cast steel anvil, that is no real worry, but I still stick with free-fitting hardy tools. A very light chamfer is good to keep from marking tool shanks, but that's all you need. Do the same for the pritchel hole(s).
I recommend a belt sander and an angle grinder with a 180 grit flap disc for cleaning up anvil faces and horns. Don't use a hard grinding wheel, as you'll inevitably put gouges in that new anvil and annoy yourself.
If you have other questions, feel free to ask. I'll try to help.