Anvil Restoration & Repair
One of my very first anvil restorations involved an old “King Howard” (most likely Hay Budden as it was made in Brooklyn, NY) anvil. As you can see in the photos, half of the tool steel plate is missing (nearly all anvils made in America were a cast or wrought iron body with a hard tool steel plate forge welded to the top).
That didn’t stop the smith, though. As you can see, where the tool steel is missing, the metal was mushroomed over the sides showing just how much hammering this old anvil received. Quite the spanking! (Click on any image to enlarge):
My first job was to grind off the “mushrooms” and prep the surface for the welding (I used a 4 1/2″ angle grinder with an 80 grit disk for this part of the job).
Unfortunately, I didn’t capture the actual welding process and final grinding, but the process was basically as follows:
- Grind off all rust on the anvil body that was to be welded
- Pre-heat the anvil to approximately 400 degrees using several torches. To monitor the temperature, you can use a Tempel Stick or buy an infrared thermometer (I prefer the IR thermometers, but make sure you aren’t taking readings from the shiny parts of the anvil – the emissivity is different for shiny metals and will throw your readings off. An area spray painted with grill black paint works well and is easy to remove later on)
- Build up the area directly on the wrought iron body using 7018 welding rod. This “underlayment” of 7018 provides a nice surface to receive the hardfacing layer that gets welded on last
- Grind the 7018 layer flush and prep it to receive the hardface rod
- Weld the hardface rod on top of the 7018 layer and blend it in with what was remaining of the tool steel plate
- Weld some more! The horn and table got a MIG welding job to fill in the large dents & dings and the cutting table got a hardface overlay
- Polish with a 120 grit flap disk
I ended up giving this anvil to my Dad as a gift. Here is how it turned out:
This is definitely a fun and rewarding job, but it is not cheap. Hardfacing rods are expensive and you will spend a lot of time and money doing this.
Fortunately I bought this anvil very cheap due to it’s condition, and the repair itself ended up costing me about $50 to $60.
A word of caution
It doesn’t always make sense to repair an anvil!
Sometimes it’s best to save your money for a better one, especially if you do not have the expertise in metalworking to pull it off or the equipment to do the welding. Besides, these broken anvils are not unusable.
This particular anvil still had a horn, a hardy hole and a pritchel hole as well as some useful hardface left. You would be surprised at what you can make even with damaged anvils!