I need an anvil.
The prices of anvils in my area are simply ridiculous. I can't shell out cash for the rusty, banged up shit that is available. Sadly, it seems that some guys (and girls) are hoarding, even owning four or more anvils. It's their right, but they are making it tough for new smiths.
My answer to the dilemma? Make my own. Many have done it before me, using old rail or other metals, so the possibility exists. I want something specific, a nice clean, heavy block of mild steel.
I thought of checking out the local scrap yard to see if they had a large chunk of mild steel I might use, or perhaps modify for use as an anvil. My first trip was last week, on Friday, during lunch hour, when it was safe and they let me look around the piles. No luck on a big chunk, but I did get some nice coil springs to make tools with, so not a bad first try.
I returned a week later to look around again, and the nice guy at the office informed me that it was my lucky day. A large 5" (12.7mm) plate arrived about 10 minutes before I showed up. I took a look out in the yard and found the plate to be huge. I didn't measure it, but it seemed about 2 metres x 3 metres. Most was cut away as two huge circles were removed, leaving only two corners usable to cut out anything of a decent size. I was able to get 30cm x 30cm x 12cm (1' x 1' x 5") block cut for me.The cost came to $100 CDN, cut, a lot of money for a guy like me.
It is extremely heavy for a small chunk, weighing in at about 90Kg (200 pounds). It was still hot when I moved it 8 hours later. Hot enough to quickly evaporate water sprinkled on it. Here are a few pics of what I brought home. You can click the images to enlarge.
The torch cuts are not what I expected. I know torches are a bit rough, but these are going to take me a ton of work to level and smooth out. The cuts are angled poorly, and not at 90 degrees on the sides. Maybe this is what torch cuts are supposed to look like. I will pick the best 30cm x 12cm side to use as the anvil face, and at the very least level and flatten the opposite side so that the anvil sits properly on a wooden base. I hope to use my 5' angle grinder to work it all out.
I have other plans for it, but am unsure how to proceed, due to possible labour pricing and my ability. A hardy hole and pritchel hole would be great, and require a pass-through to allow stuff to drop through. While I may be able to drill neatly enough for a pritchel hole, a square hardy hole is far beyond anything I can achieve. The pass-through or cut away area underneath is likely to require a machinist, or me finding a way to neatly cut something like a large semicircle out of one side.
If the face gets too dinged up, which is okay for a while, I will get a flat piece of something like AR500 welded on top, and do cuts with a small piece of scrap laid on top for those few minutes needed.
I look forward to the challenge.