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New England Ironworks

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Anvil Cleanup/Stand PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Conroy   
Saturday, 19 February 2011 00:00

So I finally got around to cleaning up my anvil and building a stand.  I worked it over with a wire brush, and couldn't reveal much.  I got a little more agressive with a 3M bristle Scotchbrite wheel on my right-angle grinder, and revealed a few numbers and markings, but nothing to indicate a brand.  From what I can gather there is a "1" followed by a dot, a number I can't make out in the middle, another dot, and "25".  If these are measurements in the old English hundredweight scale, that means the first number represents 112 pounds, the middle number represents quarters of that (multiples of 28), and the last is straight pounds.  That makes my anvil somewhere inbetween 1-0-25 and 1-3-25 or between 137 amd 221 pounds.  I'll need to break out a scale, I guess.


I then took a 36 grit flap disk to the anvil face and horn to smooth it out and reduce the rust, scale, and pock marks since I've read every surface on your anvil face will get transferred to your hot metal.  Here's the finished product:



The stand was made out of a single 4"x4"x8'  and 2 2"x4"x8' piece of cedar.  The 4x4 got cut into 4 2' long pieces.  Then I measured the base of the anvil, length and width.  Then I added 3" to each dimension to get to the overall length of members needed.  The 2x4's got cut into 4 long pieces and 4 shorter pieces to form an interior rectangle just the right size to hold the feet of the anvil snug.  Once everything was cut I drilled holes that fell centered on the 4x4's and are offest by 1-1/4 inches vertically so they can cross over each other and not interfere.


Each hole got a carriage bolt, washer and nut and got tightened up with a ratchet after ensure each piece was square.  When finished, the anvil was hoisted into place and fits perfectly!


Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 21:12
The Search for an Anvil PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Conroy   
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 01:28

I now own an anvil!


I watched eBay, which frequently shows anvil listings but drives a high premium.  Here in New England, the average anvil up for auction runs about 125 lbs and the average price on an eBay auction is about $2.25-$2.50 per pound.  Very few offer shipping, so sometimes it also entails a 200+ mile drive each way to pick up the goods.That was a little steep in my book for getting started.  Craigslist offered the occasional better deal, but it's almost like there's a conspiracy of blacksmiths out there snatching up every anvil on Craigslist as soon as they are posted.  Either that or everybody and their brother have decided to take up blacksmithing in 2010 and they're in the market for an anvil.


Luckily, the old personal touch came through.  After several evenings chatting with fellow members of the Knights of Columbus about learning blacksmithing and looking for an anvil, one of my fellow knights found a friend whose 90-year-old father was clearing out his metalworking equipment.  One of the items he had around was a rather ancient-looking anvil.  A few phone discussions ensued; a meet was scheduled for me to check it out.


First of all, there's something cloak-and-dagger about meeting in a parking lot and striking a deal over merchandise out of somebody's car trunk.  I found myself staring at a rusty old hunk of metal, possessing the classic profile of an anvil.  Secondly, I've read a little bit about anvils, and know I'd like to spend as little as possible, but I'm no expert on knowing what is a fair price.  The asking price was $200... and after watching many slip through my fingers, I decided to take a chance.


I did manage to load it into my SUV's cargo area with his help, and once it arrived home I dared to lift it out of my vehicle and onto a cart.  A rap with a hammer yielded an adequate ring rather than a dead clunk, so I know I've got some decent steel on my hands and not just a boat anchor.  I would say easily that this was one of the heaviest things I've ever lifted, and that is after a career as a Network Engineer installing servers into computer racks, and a side career as a DJ; loading audio gear, racks of equipment, speakers and subwoofers.  I don't yet have a scientific weight for the anvil, and I have not been able to discern any stampings or markings of weight or brand.  Based on the effort required to move it 3 feet from vehicle to the ground, my initial ballpark figure is about 170lbs.






I will post more pictures of the anvil along during the cleaning and identification process of what will be my new workhorse.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 16:49
Getting Educated 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Conroy   
Thursday, 02 December 2010 02:58

Before I blow a whole lot of money on tools, I did some digging and located the website for the Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America (  Based on some of the preliminary items there on how to get started in blacksmithing, I picked up a few books to read and keep around for reference.


The books I picked up to start with were:

The New Edge of the Anvil

The Art of Blacksmithing

The Backyard Blacksmith


The New Edge of the Anvil
- Jack Andrews



The Art of Blacksmithing
- Alex Bealer



The Backyard Blacksmith
- Lorelei Sims



I began with reading up on the tools of blacksmithing, the types of steel used, and the basic techniques involved.  Among other things, discussion of shop design, and different types of forges was very interesting.  After reading about the fundamentals, I though it made sense to look into getting some budget-priced basic tools.  I picked up a few hammers at Sears that will fit the bill, and started looking for an anvil.


You'd be amazed how tricky it is to find a workable anvil in New England without spending a modest fortune.  Just about every anvil over 100 pounds with anything is selling on ebay for $300+, and you have to spend gas money to go pick it up.  Craigslist offered a few alternatives, and I am reaching out to a few people to see if I can score a bargain.  I have a small propane/propylene hand torch mounted to a workbench that is my "forge" and I've dabbled in banging some steel on the anvil portion of my bench vise, but it's rather awkward.  I'm looking forward to having a proper anvil.


I plan on building a coal-fired forge made out of a brake drum, firebrick, and some cast iron pipe.  The torch is somewhat workable for heating up 1" of steel at a time, but any serious forging will require a larger heat source.  Harbor Freight has a wheeled cart for $39 which would make a decent base that I could wheel out of the garage to keep fumes at bay.


I will continue reading and will add blog posts along the way as I have a story to add.  Hopefully someday this blog will be a great story about how I became a blacksmith.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 December 2010 14:39
About New England Ironworks PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Conroy   
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 23:17

Throughout my life I have had a creative streak.  Growing up I was very artistic, sketching in pencil and pen & ink, painting with watercolors and acrylics, throwing pottery, writing poetry and short stories, and playing saxophone and piano.


I went on to study Architecture at the University of Miami, and after working in Computer Aided Drafting for some time I developed a fascination with computer networking.  I changed career paths, and went on to work as a network administrator and engineer from 1997-2010.  I still integrate my artistic calling with computers by volunteering for various non-profits doing graphic design and web development.


Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 22:43