We get many questions on preparing a new anvil for its first use and care:
- Do I need to radius the edges?
- Do I need to smooth out the horn?
- How do i deaden the sound?
- What kind of stand is the best?
and so on.
When it comes to buying equipment it probably does depend on NEED, unless the spreading oak tree over your shop has dollar bills instead of leaves. But for anvils it is more of a WANT.
Radius Edges - Not necessarily. In the early years, anvil sellers would ask if you wanted the edges ground prior to pick up or delivery because it was safer for them as the edges were not as durable as well-made anvils are today. They would take the edges off before you get it so that it won’t bust off in the future. This shouldn't be an issue anymore with better technology and metallurgy. In some cases you may want a "sweet spot" for certain projects or processes you do, otherwise it is not necessary. But keep in mind that a sharp edge can create a weakness, a stress riser, in you forgings if used in the wrong area. This is the only area on a new anvil that needs to be radius and is already done on Ridgid-Peddinghaus anvils.
Horn Smoothing – I used an anvil for years without grinding anything and my work didn’t suffer nor did it slow me down. Never saw the small flat spots on the horn in my work. So I don’t believe it is a necessity to radius the horn more. That being said, it really depends on what you do and what you like. If you own it, make it work for you better by sanding it how you like.
Deadening – I have tried several including the magnet trick. The one that works best for me is caulking. Apply silicone caulking liberally to the base before positioning on your stand. Also apply a ¼” thick layer of the same caulking to the bottom of flat horn or heal. The bottom of the heal or flat horn is probably not used much, so here you can make the caulking almost as wide as the area itself. The area on the round horn would likely need to be narrow and not run the complete length. If you can keep from breathing in the stench you can do as I did and run about ¾” wide for the majority of the length. It is very rare that I hit the caulked area with a hot piece.
Anvil Stand – I don’t like anything that’s blocking me from getting up to close my anvil. I use a vertically laminated wood stand that is the same size and shape as the base of my anvil. I find that stumps do not hold their shape on the bottom and begin to sway over time. I find the 3-leg version awkward to work all the way around with slamming my tow or ankle into one of the legs. 2” x 12”, 10” or 8’s work well for the vertical. In all cases your anvil has to work for you. You should not hesitate to try different heights and stand types.
There will likely be another post on this subject once I remember some more of the questions. Please feel free to send me ideas for the blogs. I will happy to right a blog on your ideas or at least converse with you about it.