I am thinking about adding forging to my lifestyle. I am completely new and have never forged anything before. I am at the researching and spending a little money to try it out stage. Any ideas about what to use for an anvil? I have been told 'just buy a piece of an 'I' beam ' But finding someone to sell it to me is proving a little challenging. Will that really work adequately to try it out? I have read several 'build your own forge' websites that seem plausible so I feel comfortable with how to do that.
What basic tools would you suggest for my first attempts at pounding some metal. I have no projects in mind just take a piece of metal and see if I can make a reasonable straight bar with it. I am thinking a hammer (decent 'blacksmith' hammer from Home Depot enough to get me started?), some welders gloves, eye & hearing protection, a set of metal holding tongs for handling the metal when it is straight out of the forge. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
Also any book or article references that you would be willing to make would be great!