Forging is a difficult and time-consuming task, therefore making it vital that your tools and workspace remain in good shape. A problem many blacksmiths run into, though, is keeping their anvil rust-free.
Here are a few tips you can use to stop an anvil from rusting:
- Regularly use the anvil.
- Apply maintenance wax to your anvil.
- Add oil to the surface of your anvil.
- Clean and cover your anvil after use.
This article will discuss what causes rust to form on an anvil, the materials that can be used to clean it, and the methods to apply your cleaning products properly and efficiently. To learn more, read on.
What Causes an Anvil to Rust?
Anvils are generally made from cast iron or forged steel. The iron in these metals can rust or corrode when in the presence of water or air moisture.
The chemical reaction of iron, oxygen, and water is what causes rust to form. Dust, grit, and other types of dirt can also attract moisture.
Therefore, you want to acquire cleaning materials that can be used to clean the aforementioned metals, and that will not damage the usability and the strength of your anvil.
It is, therefore, important to consider all the materials that may be used.
How Can You Clean Rust Off of an Anvil?
In order to remove rust, you need to clean your anvil with cleaning products that do not require too much liquid, and that does not strip or damage the surface of the anvil where you will be forging your tools.
Various materials that can be used include the following:
- Oil – This prevents moisture from surfacing, as oil and water do not mix.
- Vinegar – The acid in vinegar dissolves the rusted metal.
- Maintenance wax – This product creates a protective seal over the metal surface, as well as maintaining the charcoal color of the anvil.
- Boiled Linseed Oil – This type of oil acts as a preservative from oxidation.
- Baking soda – This dissolves the rust when mixed with water, however, in order to prevent more rust surfacing, clean off and dry the treated surface quickly.
In order to apply and clean the metal properly, the following tools can be used:
- Steel wool scrub or a hand-held metal scrub brush – the steel wool from these brushes is best for not only removing rust but also for thoroughly working a substance over the metal.
- Cotton/cloth towel – Cotton is an ideal material to use when cleaning an anvil, as it’s level of high absorbency will pick up liquid, preventing corrosion from moisture.
All the above-mentioned tools and products are very useful in maintaining the usability, quality, and lifetime of your anvil.
In order to prevent the metal from your anvil from being damaged, however, it is important to consider the methods required to apply these materials and tools properly.
Methods for Maintaining a Rust-Free Anvil
Now that you are familiar with the products and materials that can be used to clean an anvil, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the proper methods of cleaning.
A thorough examination of these examples will help you decide which method works for how often you use an anvil and the amount of time you may dedicate to cleaning and maintaining it.
Method #1: Apply Maintenance Wax
Maintenance wax restores and gives protection to the surface of an anvil. It’s made from beeswax, it preserves the color of both the anvil and the tools used when forging materials, and it gives off a matte finish. In order to apply properly, follow these steps:
- Scrub down your anvil with a metal scrubby, preferably 0000 – grade/ steel wool. (Amazon link).
- Using a brush or a rag, apply the wax all over the anvil.
- Afterward, buff the anvil with a soft cotton cloth. Because of differing temperatures, the product may give off a slight white bloom; therefore, buffing the anvil after application of the wax will ensure the finish looks as intended.
Note: Maintenance wax is a viable option for someone who uses an anvil either regularly or sporadically, as it is an inexpensive product and requires very little time to apply.
Method #2: Give Your Anvil a Vinegar Bath
Vinegar has great anti-rusting properties. If your anvil is already showing rust, giving it a vinegar bath is an excellent way to restore it to its former glory.
- An engine hoist (optional)
- Plastic tub with a lid
- Wire hand brush
- Several bottles of vinegar (by the gallon)
- A large amount of baking soda (The amount will depend roughly on the size of your anvil)
- Hand grinder (Amazon link)
- Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO)
- Use the engine hoist to place the anvil inside the plastic tub. You can use an engine hoist or not. It depends on how heavy your anvil is.
- Cover the anvil completely with vinegar.
- Allow the vinegar to soak the anvil for about 48 hours (2 full days).
- Pour out and dispose of the vinegar.
- Rinse out the plastic tub with water to remove residual vinegar.
- Pour baking soda into the tub and soak the anvil in water, while rubbing all over with a clean rag. This will neutralize the acidity in the vinegar.
- Rinse out with clean water, and immediately dry off the anvil until fully dry.
- Apply the boiled linseed oil. This will protect the surface of the metal.
- Dispose of rags properly used for the boiled linseed oil, as this product can self – combust.
Note: If you are too slow and rust begins to form, immediately scrub with a metal brush and hand-held grinder, and apply the linseed oil again. This is an easy fix and will not undo the previous amount of work.
A vinegar bath is a perfectly acceptable method of rust removal. However, due to the length of time, it takes to clean the anvil, you may want to use a simpler method if you do not have the luxury of waiting two days for your anvil to be usable.
Method #3: Use Quick Cleaning Methods for Time-Sensitive Work
All the above-stated methods for cleaning your anvil are viable options to maintain a rust-free workspace.
If, however, you find yourself cramped for time to wash your anvil on a regular basis, the following list contains a couple of small tasks that you can do to maintain the quality and cleanliness of this workspace:
- Clean and cover the surface of the anvil after usage. Dust, dirt, and other grime can attract moisture and cause your anvil to rust. A quick and simple way to prevent this is to cover the surface with a cotton cloth or towel overnight.
- Lightly oil the surface. Oil and water do not mix, therefore creating a protective seal over the metal of your anvil, preventing moisture from surfacing and the metal from corroding.
- Use your anvil on a regular basis. As mentioned at the outset of this article, merely working the surface of an anvil with your tools can prevent the surfacing of rust. However, it’s vital to note that this is a small task convenient for blacksmiths who forge on a regular basis. If you are a hobbyist/amateur blacksmith, you may want to use the simpler steps mentioned above.
There are a variety of ways to keep your anvil from rusting, including the application of wax, soaking in a vinegar bath, scrubbing and oiling, and using your anvil on a regular basis. If you forge by trade, any of the above-mentioned methods should work for your level of usage.
However, if you forge as a hobby or as a profession, consider using the quicker methods of cleaning corrosion off of your anvil’s surface.
These maintenance practices should not only extend the life of your anvil but also help you to get the most out of using it.
Cheers, tools owners!