I thought I’d sell my old anvil and get a new one. The surface of the anvil was pretty pitted, and if I tried to forge down an edge, the steel often picked up the pits. Also: new anvils are pretty!
So, I listed it on craigslist and had a buyer in 20 minutes(!). The fellow showed up that evening, and handed me money, then we tried to pick the anvil up and I that was when I remembered that a certain someone bedded the anvil into the log/stand with a tube of silicone adhesive. Smart, by half.
We stood around a bit thinking and he said, “can I have the log? I need one anyway.”
Brilliant! Then, we tried to lift the 150lb anvil, bedded into its monster log (probably another 100lb) into the back of his truck. Not a chance. It’s not the weight it’s that there’s no good way to lift something like that, normally. If we had been prepared, with a big board or two, we could have flipped on its side and rolled it up, but I’d forgotten about that part.
I sucked up my pride and ran down to the neighbor who was, coincidentally, getting into his tractor. His tractor has a front bucket. I asked nicely and 10 minutes later we slid the log into the bucket and then transferred it gently to the back of the pickup truck and it was off on its way to its new home.
Amazingly, there are industrial equipment suppliers like Grizzly and Grainger, that have shipping warehouses all over – they can practically overnight you an anvil. I ordered a lovely Rigid brand pettinghaus anvil (from Germany! Oo! Maybe there is steel from a panzer tank in it…) and, I kid you not, the trucking company called me 2 days later, not having made any arrangements for me to be anywhere. But it happened that the trucker was 2 miles from my shop, where I was, so we transferred the anvil to the back of my truck.
In the course of transferring the anvil, I backed up my (new to me) Silverado – a great gorgeous red and black monster that I traded the Tahoe in for – into the rear guard of the semi. Now the top of the tailgate is slightly customized. It’s hard to see, and I’m probably the only person who slaps himself inside whenever he notices it’s slightly kinked.
I backed up to the door of the shop, set up some jack stands – I am not bending my 59 year-old back with the weight of an anvil – and hugged it to my chest, staggered into the building, set it down. Steel is amazing. Steel has this ability to just make me happy. My brain goes “tilt!” when I pick up something a bit larger than a cinder-block, and it weighs 170lb. There’s some part of me that just goes, “no, that can’t be right.” Anvils are slippery and don’t have handles that aren’t slippery and my subconscious kept screaming that it would be really easy to drop this thing on my foot.
Then I went back to the shop to get my spare log. What, don’t you have a spare horizontal section of a mighty oak tree? Of course I do (or did) – it’s why my middle name is “packrat”. When the neighbor, 4 years ago, now, it would be, was parting out an oak tree for firewood, I bought my log from him, and he put proud work into making it the straightest, flattest, most perfectly cut log any anvil has ever rested on. I’m serious. It was an amazing log. It still is. But when he cut it, he cut another one and gave me that as a bonus because it was also an amazingly beautiful log. I rolled it back into the faculty office of my building, painted it with linseed oil, and let it age. Because I’m a packrat and packrats do things that way. There’s a strong young fellow next door and I asked him if he could give me a hand and we put a big sheet of plywood up the back of my truck, and rolled the log up into the bed. Carefully. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the guys on failblog who roll a log into their truck and it takes out the rear window? That’s not me. Not with this truck.
So, I put some other asskicking gear into the truck and carefully (not braking hard!) got back to the hot shed [some Marcus nomenclature: “the studio” is my 1957 elementary school, 10 miles from my house. “the shop” is my newish steel building where I do all the things involving fire. It is also sometimes “the hot shed”]
One great thing to have handy if you do any task that involves templates is pvc foam flooring. It’s cheap, tough, thick, and easy to cut. It takes sharpie marks like a dream. Mice won’t eat it. It’s pretty much impossible to tear. I have a roll of about 12 feet I bought back when I was doing a lot of leather-work, and I was able to make and keep all my patterns by rendering them in flooring, then punching a hole in the corners of all the pieces and looping them with a metal hoop to keep all the pieces of a given hat, or whatever, together. Did I mention I am a pack rat? I have hat patterns for hats I made 15 years ago, in case I ever need another one.
Put the anvil on a piece of the flooring. Trace it with a sharpie. Cut it out with scissors. Put it on the log and trace it with sharpie. This minimizes the amount of anvil-moving that has to go on.
I really hate freehanding stuff with a router, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and make chips. Obviously, that picture was taken partway through.
Having the flooring template means that I don’t have to move the anvil to test anything! And, as a bonus, I can now inlet any number of 170lb pettinghaus anvils without having to move them. I will keep this template on my “shelf of templates” which is about as much of a mess as you probably think it is. “hat, hat, hat, knife sheath, anvil, hat, hat, armored shoulder piece for a biker’s jacket, …”
I was getting pretty exhausted by the time I finally got everything in place. I had to move the log into position, then the anvil into the log, then move the anvil again so I could take the template out from under it, then move the anvil again… A cold beer came to mind, but I have to avoid the beer because of gout. Home to the next best thing: a hot shower and some pickled beets and hot tea!
Shall we discuss my vices next?