Extending and Life of Your New Anvil
Congratulations on your purchase of an Old World Anvil. Few blacksmiths have
the luxury of being the first owner of a new anvil. A couple of points on
the care and feeding of your anvil.
Coating on Face of the Anvil
Your new anvil comes from the factory with a
coating of varnish on the face to protect it during the ocean voyage to
you. The color of the varnish ranges from clear to an almost burnt coffee
color. It comes off with just a little effort. You can use the following
- Just use the anvil and it will burn off as the hot metal takes
- Use a chemical stripper from the paint store and follow the
instructions on the bottle.
Finish the Edges on the Anvil
You should chamfer the edges of the anvil
face. By putting a minimum of a 1/16 inch radius all around the edge of the face you
reduce the chance of chipping if you are doing a lot of heavy forging on the
edges. I think the anvil also looks better with at least a 1/16" radius all
the way around.
Some smiths like to create a fuller area on the far and near
side of the face with a 1/4" to 3/8" radius. This area would be about 3
inches long and you would create the this area both on the near and far side
of the anvil directly across from one another. It makes it easier to use
half face blows with your hammer and not mark the under side of your work.
This is at your discretion. Anvil finishing is left to the customer, because
it is a matter of personal preference.
By using a cotton cloth/ cotton towel to cover your
anvil when you are not using it, you can prevent it from getting rusty. It
keeps dust, grit and other crud that attract and holds moisture. Moisture
can lead to rust. None of my anvils have ever had any rust on them using
this technique. A little bit of light oil now an then on the face also
Avoid using your anvil to straighten rusty, bent up, cold steel. The anvil is
designed for using with hot steel. Deep scratches can show up on your work from heavy sledge work on cold steel.
Scratches, Dings and Other Things
Should you put a ding or dent on the face of your anvil, you can reduce it
by lightly striking around the ding with the round end of a ball pein
hammer. Some professional smiths learn to take advantage of the dings that
can develop on the face of their anvil and wouldnot remove them if they
Beware of Overly Hardened Hammer Faces
They are dangerous and can cause
flying shards of steel that can cut and maim. Wayne Goddard in his book on
Bladesmithing, "The Wonder of Knifemaking" discusses what happens when
hammers are left too hard. They also could dent your anvil if you miss
strike a lot. Hammers are easily re-tempered by reheating the face.
Using an Anvil in Cold Weather
Before using an anvil in cold weather, take the time to heat up a large
(3inch x 5inch for example) piece of steel and place it on the face of the anvil for
a few minutes to warm it up. Hardened steel can be damaged if used in
extreme cold. This has never happened to me, but I have heard reputable
sources in the blacksmithing community say that it is an important
consideration in cold weather to heat up the face before forging on it. I
pass this information on to you for your consideration.
For Armorers or others who need a very refined surface on the face or horn of the
anvil, you can make the face as shiny as you want, by using a sanding block with
400, 600+ etc. wet and dry sand paper from an auto parts store. Vary the
angle each time you change grit i.e: straight down the face from one end to
round horn. With the next grit make your strokes at 45 degrees to the
previous stroke. You should finish with the last grit going straight from
horn to horn. I like to use WD-40, but some smiths like to use distilled
water with a little bit of baking soda mixed in. The negative of making the
face too shiny is that it will show every scratch. Scratches can be repaired by re-sanding, but then it's an anvil not a
piece of jewelry.
Again, congratulations again on the purchase of your new anvil. I hope it
gives you many hours of pleasure as you pursue the craft & work of
Blacksmithing or Bladesmithing. If there is ever anything I can do to help you or answer any questions you have, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I appreciate your business and would welcome any inquiries about my anvils
from your friends and associates.
Good Luck and Happy Blacksmithing!
President of Old World Anvils