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I Forge Iron

Building a square type anvil

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I have to build a square type anvil, so that it can be use in our 15th century reenactement group (that will also be use in a 10th century set up). The first problem that I have is what steel to use. Do I start from a single block of one type of steel or do I make the base from one softer type steel and the working face with a harder one. Also for the size is it really necessary to respect the anvil weight to hammer weight ratio (30 to 1). I have to keep in mind that a I'm the one carring it around.
The second problem is fixing it to the wooden support. I could use the standard hole in the corner and fixed it with nail or something similar. Or I could fixe a kind of large spick in the middle of the anvil and push in the support. Just don't know witch one would be more durable and easy to transport.
That my problems for now, hoping to hear yout suggestion.


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For my 15th century set up I use a block of mild steel about 5 1/2 square by 7 inches tall, it is not faced as the amount of use it gets it is not worth the effort. on the underside is a spike about 11/4 square by 4 inches long to hold it in the block.
On one corner I have drilled a hole 10mm dia down 4 inches or so to meet a transverse hole at the bottom which I use for nail making/hole punchig etc.

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I had an absolutely beautiful early medieval anvil made for me by Steve Parker; I'll have to measure it but he started with large stock drew down the sides *slightly and then forged a substantial spike on the bottom of it. He has access to the *large* powerhammers, sigh.

Since it has essentially no overhangs like a horn or heel you can ignore the hammer/anvil weight rule as far as damaging though you can tell the lack of mass in it when you switch back to the beast in the shop. (do try to avoid striking the edges at full swing though)

As is often the case bigger is better. I would start be deciding what weight you can comfortably carry from your vehicle to the site(s). Then you can calculate a volume to get that weight and then figure how you want to configure it to get that volume.

Traditionally the anvil would be made from real wrought iron with *maybe* a series of higher carbon plates forge welded across it to make the face.

Unless you are going all out; something like 4340 or 4130 that is easy to find in large chunks and heat treatable will do; to be obnoxious you could hammer finish the sides and "fake in" a line for the face plate welds.

The spike could be separately forged and then arc welded on---no one will see it in use!

Forging a similar spike to use as a burning iron to make the hole in your stump is also a good idea. I drilled, then burned with a duplicate made a touch smaller and then *rammed* the anvil in place. As it's small I have a tallish baulk of wood with it mounted in place and I heat shrunk a band of iron around the top to help it resist the urging of the spike to split.

I'l measure mine tonight; though going pre-Y1k it is smaller than I would expect any but a travel anvil to be in the renaissance---though it does match the roman one in Bath Museum fairly well, as well as one in the Camino Real Museum here in NM, USA that was used along the trail from the spanish ports to Santa Fe as well as one used in the French in Indian War---so travel ones seemed to have held their form and size pretty well for nearly 2000 years...

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OK my anvil is about 4" sq at the top tapering in a bit (1/4"?) it's 5" long and the spike on the base is about 5.5" starting about 1.125" in cross section and tapering to about 5/16"---making it about 22 pounds or 10 kg for a 4x4x5 rectangle and using the spike as "fill" for the taper.

Another type of anvil of that period is the T stake anvil or as I say "they commonly had the no horn anvil and the all horn anvil"
I picked up some odd sledges with long heads on them---one a RR spike driver with two different cylindrical peens and the other being a tapered 4 sided with the edges slightly flattened to make a non-regular octagon that also have different sized peins.

I had some 2.5" sq stock that I was able to borrow the use of a larger powerhammer and taper the central section and put a spike on one end and a tenon on the other that I am riveting the heads on and then will weld over the top to make a small flat pad to make a couple of nice stake anvils about 3' tall. I sure hope I can go to our June meeting just in case I get permission to use the large hammer again and make another stake anvil shaft! (I may be in Chile at that time however, sigh)

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DON'T WORK WHEN TIRED! Accident waiting to happen! Shoot when I went to work the morning after the birth of my first child the boss just sat me in a corner and forbade me from getting near any equipment!

Far better to be "late" on something than to be "the Late"...

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