Introduction: Making Aso / Railroad Track Anvil Using Angle Grinders.
In this instructable i show you easy way to make Aso (anvil shaped object ) / Anvil using a piece of railroad track.
Most likely you have seen several videos about the subject, i have too.
You might have noticed that straightening the top section of the track can be tricky?
Luckily it doesn't need to be that " hard " work at all. No need for milling, days used for grinding or any special tools.
If you straighten the top by making nice and straight cut trough it.
All you need is just one or two angle grinders, possibly a drill, some time and right abrasives.
I made my anvil from a 450mm long piece of rr-track that i found from a recycling center. I paid 10$ about it.
In my area railroad rails we're very popular in many kinds of uses after WW2.
There was a shortage about the steel, so old demolished rails we're used in fence posts, small bridges etc.
My local scrap yard has plenty of suitable pieces, with a very low price too.
This video shows the making process:
Ps. Note, that giveaway mentioned on the video isn't open anymore.
New owner of this anvil and the stand is somewhere in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Tools and abrasives used:
Metabo WE 2200-230 230mm angle grinder with 2mm thick 3M cubitron 2 cut off wheels. For making the cuts. Making all cuts took about 3 wheels.
Metabo WEV 11-125 Quick 125mm 1100W angle grinder with 3M cubitron fibre disc. For rough shaping and smoothening. Used two 36grit wheels.
METABO W 750-125 125mm 750W angle grinder with 3M Roloc pad. Used: 60,80 and 120 grit Roloc cubitron papers. Two pcs each. Brown, red and blue 3M Scotch brite finishing pads. One pcs each.
Anvil was made during two days. Overall time used about 8 hours.
Step 1: Straightening the Top
Straightening the top section seems to be the " trickiest " according the videos that i have seen.
Simple solution to straighten the top is to cut 8mm thick slice out of it.
To be able to do it, you need a 180mm or 230mm angle grinder ( 7"-9" ) And couple good quality cut off wheels.
Both sizes can cut through the top section from one side.
To make the cut.
1. Clamp the piece of track to suitable height.
- I think that the best height is: When you are making the cut, grinder sets to somewhat same level with your pelvis, or little lower.
Then your shoulders are relaxed. Weight of the grinder leans against the workpiece. All you need to do, is to guide it with the movements of your elbows or body.
2. Mark the cutting line. Use a scribe or other method that makes thin and clear line.
- Thin line is more accurate, idea is to make the cut right next to the line, not on top of it.
3. Start the cut. First, make a shallow groove following the marked line.
- As mentioned, make the cut right next to the line. Then you can clearly see that it goes straight.
- Don't push grinder against the workpiece, let grinder just lay on it. All you need to do is to guide it straight.
- When workpiece is placed below you pelvis / waist. Then you can clearly see the cutting line from above.
Also you can support your elbows against your body, and making straight cut comes easier.
- "Feel" the grinder. You can easily feel, and also hear, if grinder starts to stuck, that is what makes it to " jump ".
If you feel that grinder starts to make short " jumps " forward, then slowly release the pressure of it, by lifting it little higher and taking back little bit. Same thing, if you hear that grinders rpm is getting lower. That tells that friction is increasing and its possible that wheel stucks.
- Note. When you start to lift grinder higher. Hold it firmly, this is the spot where it usually jumps too. Section of the wheel that hits the workpiece changes its location at the moment when you lift it, stay focused.
4. Slowly cut deeper, by making groove little deeper making " sawing like " movement. Note: Keep pressure on only when moving grinder forward.
5. It took about 10 minutes and one 2mm thick 3M cubitron 2 cut off wheel in size 230mm ( 9" ) to make this cut.
Even that my explanation possibly made it to sound tricky. It is not. After little practise, angle grinder is very predictable. Stay focused, make cuts in right height, stand firmly, don't battle against it, and you won't get surprised.
Most accidents happen when people try to use force against grinder and try to push the cut off wheel through the workpiece.
That's a big mistake. If grinder doesn't jump, it makes wheels wear out much faster. Cut off wheels hits particles out from the workpiece. If you push wheel against the workpiece, its rpm drops and wheel doesn't have enough speed. Workpiece starts to hit pieces from the wheel.
Now you have a straight top in your anvil. It didn't take long and you didn't need mill.
Note. Top doesn't need to be absolutely right angled with the sides of the track ( sides are little roundish anyway )
It doesn't actually matter if its in 89-91or even 80-100 degree angle.
You forge against it, you adjust the angle of the workpiece with a hammer... That's not a high precision tool.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Horn
I made my horn to 150mm length. ( about 6" )
I marked the width of the "nose" same as is the body of the track.
Then connected nose and the length marking with lines.
Made the first cuts following these lines, and then removed material from the bottom and side sections.
I made cuts right angled, these shapes will be curved later.
For the heel i shortened base 100mm. Cut is made in 45 degree angle.
For cutting i used 230mm angle grinder, same that i used for straightening the top.
These cuts took about 2 cut off wheels. ( not whole wheels, but you need to change them early to reach far enought )
Step 3: Shaping the Waist
Shaping the waist i made with 125mm ( 5 " ) angle grinder.
There is also soft backings for the fibre discs, and also different brands manufacture them.
I use 3M cubitron 2 discs, those works and lasts longer with hard backing.
To get the desired shape for the waist, i simply removed material from it, by making swiping movement.
You get smoother result, when you "swipe" trough the whole edge.
Just increase pressure in the section where you want to remove more material. This way edge that you are shaping stays more symmetrical all the way to the end. And you avoid need to fix " blocky " shape of it.
At this point i made a simple rough shaping, final shaping was done after horn was shaped.
Step 4: Shaping the Horn.
Shaping the horn is actually much easier than you might think.
Simple trick in any need to grind straight edge to round shape, is:
- Start by grinding one edge to 45 degree angle. ( about )
- Grind similar angled edge to other edge.
You can easily to compare width and shape of these first "trails". Make them similar as possible, it doesn't matter if those are in 45 degree angle or not. More important is: To get symmetrical result. Grind similar shapes to both sides.
- Then grind both edges of this 45 degree trail, again to 45 degree angles, and make another side in the same way.
- When you work with the both sides at the same time, getting symmetrical shape is very easy.
- Remove material with a swiping movement, don't "brush" it with reciprocating movement tilting grinder to whatever side, that's not accurate.
After shaping the top of the horn:
Turn anvil upside down and grind horn to sharp shape. Straight or little curved, how you personally like.
I made mine little curved.
- Then round the edges of the bottom side of the horn with by using the same " 45 degree " steps method.
This shaping was also made with a fibre discs. Flap wheels works too, but fibre discs remove material much faster, and possibly lasts little longer too.
Most important reason for me to use fibre discs is, that those stays in shape even when worn out. Flap wheel begins to make different result when it wears and changes its shape.
I used only two fibre discs to make all rough shaping in this anvil.
Step 5: Shaping Continued
After horn was roughly shaped to its form.
I finished the shaping of the waist and the heel.
I didn't use any templates or measuring for the shape, when i liked its shape, i was happy with that.
Removed little more material and made shapes little more smoother.
Step 6: Finishing the Horn.
Finishing the horn was made exactly in the same way than rough shaping was done.
Only used tool was little smaller.
"Trick" is to used 75mm diameter wheels, smaller diameter makes smaller "trails".
Easy way is to use 3M roloc pad with an angle grinder. ( link is just an example, there is many other retailers too )
Because these pads are smaller than traditional wheels, these can be used with a smaller grinder too.
I like that with a small sized 750w grinder, you get strong enough package that's also light weighted and easy to handle.
To the actual shaping. As mentioned, i continued rounding the horn with this smaller diameter pad, using the same way.. 45 degree swipes to the edge of previous 45 degree swipe. Slowly trails of the swipes are so small that you barely can see them. To get smooth result i start with a 60 grit pad, and then made another round with 80 grit, and finally last round with 120grit pads. I used two of each pads to get desired result.
Then its time to take the last steps.
Before finishing the surfaces, i shaped the edge of the anvil face to sharp edged using file.
This step isn't actually needed or necessary in most cases, shape is round enough after shaping with 125mm ( 5" ) wheels.
But, if you want to do jewelry, shape silver plates or something like that?
Then having a smooth as possible surface is needed. You don't want your anvil to "stamp" your workpieces. ( leaving marks from the rough finishing of it )
Step 7: Removing the Paint / Rust Final Smoothening.
This track piece was painted with red / black paint.
I removed the paint using stripping and finishing wheel. These wheels can ´be used for removing rust too.
I like that those are much better, faster, efficient and also safer than wire wheels.
But, you can use wire wheels than any other methods that you find suitable too.
After removing the paint, it was time to finish the surface of the anvil.
Starting with a brown, continuing with red and finishing with blue pad.
These pads are soft, and easily follows the rounded shape. I made the finishing at the same way than i did the shaping. Result is smooth and shiny.
Step 8: Holes..
I made a pritchel hole using 12mm drill. Hole is 35mm deep.
It allows to use small sized tooling with anvil, personally i have used pritchel holes only to hold axles as a "small horn " for making smaller curves, but it allows one to mount different kind of extra tooling to the anvil.
And to mount anvil to the base, i drilled 8mm hole every corner of the base.
Step 9: Polishing..
After drilling the holes,
I painted the anvil with grey "hammer paint" and.. of course, i polished it.
For polishing i used autosol stainless steel polisher, it has some chrome in it. It gives little darker shine than others that i have used. So, i use that because i like the result.
Step 10: Finished
Now the anvil is finished.
Overall used time, including painting and finishing was less than 8 hours.
Actual making doesn't have many steps, and those same steps. Like shaping the horn, can be used in any other rounding tasks too.
Cutting and grinding with an angle grinder can be easy, and accurate too. When you do only movements with a reason. If you just wipe it randomly here and there, you get random result.
This kind of instructables, that are mostly based for the tools that you hold in your hand by yourself..
Can't be explained very precisely, i think.
I still hope you got some tips how to make your own anvil.
This kind of small anvil, is made to be used with small hammers, small hammers are used with smaller parts.
I personally think that, used anvil should be at least 20 heavier than used hammer.
Anvil in this size is made for making knifes, sheet metal works, jewelry and smaller objects.
Using small anvil to forge an axe from a ball bearing.. That would be little "silly".
If you think about heat treating. Heat treating manganese steel at home is little tricky, and not even necessary at this kind of task. Just heating it to red and then cooling in water, most likely gives you very fragile result.
Railroad track is manufactured by compressing it to its shape, it work hardens at the manufacturing process in the same way that forging does. Even that we removed some material from it, its still hard enough. Also, more its used, harder it gets. So, its better to leave it like that, than trying harden it with a wrong way.
Thank you for checking this out!
I also made a stand for it.
You can see the making of it from this video:
Stand was designed for to be backed to small size for delivery. Also, i wanted it to have possibility for height adjustment, that one that gets it, can adjust it suitable height.
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