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At what weight is an anvil considered shop size?

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That is a good question and the answer will probably vary according to who you ask. I have heard that Francis Whitaker used a 137lb anvil. However, I would suggest looking instead at the size of the projects that you intend to work on and the size of the hammer you plan on using. If the size limit of your projects tend to be approximately the size of a large horse shoe then a 100lb anvil and a 2lb hammer would be fine. If you plan on making stuff to repair railroad equipment then 500lbs and some sledge-hammers would be more appropriate. If you plan on specializing in knives then consider making yourself a knife-maker's anvil as discussed previously on this forum as a lot of great ideas have been presented for that specialty. So the bottom line is to suggest matching the anvil to what you plan on using it for.

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I think this is very much a case of "the shop/smith dictates the anvil".
It comes down to what is the shop or smith going to be producing?
-If all you ever plan on making is nails, s-hooks, j-hooks, steak turners and working with steel in the 1/4" to 3/8" range, then you don't really need a particularly heavy anvil ... 75lbs to 120lbs should do just fine.
-If you are going to do more sculptural ironwork in heavier stock sizes - 1/2" up to 1.5", then a heavier anvil will be more of an asset (not necessarily REQUIRED, just more of an asset), probably around 150lbs to 200lbs
-If you plan on doing really heavy smithing in stock sizes 2" or greater, then anvils greater than 250lbs are an asset.
-If all you plan on doing is jewellery work, then anvils smaller than 50lbs are all you need.

BUT ... none of this is written-in-stone-scripture because once you throw in talent and skill, then it's pretty much anything goes. Brian Brazeal makes great hammers and other tools which involve reasonably heavy stock sizes, but works on an anvil less than 80lbs. Other smiths have anvils the size of small aircraft carriers (1200lbs +). If you're looking for an all-purpose anvil size... I would suggest 150-175lbs. Someone else would probably suggest another size, and someone else - another size again.

Other variables include portability - if you want to move your setup regularly, you'll probably want an anvil size you can move without seriously hurting yourself.
If all you can find is an old 100lb anvil, then start with that. You may never buy another anvil again, or you may trade-up to something heavier later on.

Having been a part of this community for a few years now, one of the things I've learned is that there are no hard and fast rules to things like shop size and anvil weights. You work with what you have and learn to persevere. But while there are no hard and fast rules, there can be guidelines. What I've written is what I've picked up so far from 15 years of casual hobby experience and a lot of listening. Hope it helps. Welcome to I Forge Iron.

Sam

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I think you have a very good point, it does depend on what type of work you are doing. The reason I was asking is that on ebay many sellers list there anvils as "shop size" and the weight might be as little as 100 lb or as much as 500 lb, so I wanted to know if there was a specific size of anvil that most people agree is "shop size"

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Well for smiths who shoes horses there is the anvil for on the road that was easy to move usually it seemed to be about 100 lbs. Then there was the anvil back in the shop that was larger and heaver and was not easy to move AKA the shop anvil. 200 lbs+ seemed to be the weight most often referred to as the shop anvil.

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if you cant easily pick it up then its a shop anvil.
my portable anvil was a 1 1/2 hundred easily carried from anvil stand to van.

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As has been pointed out, there are no hard and fast rules such as there are in professional sports. Trying to define a "shop" anvil could run on for weeks but an anvil in the 150# to 165# range should be adequate for almost any general blacksmithing. Less than 150# they tend to suffer in mass and stability. Once you become familiar with an anvil you will use nearly all the areas-sides included-and a 100# anvil isn't real stable when struck from the side, no matter how well it's fastened down. It just doesn't have the mass. You can do very small work on a very large anvil by using saddles and hardy tools but it is difficult to do very large work on a very small anvil. One of the drawbacks to an overly large anvil, especially if you live in a cold area of the country, is the length of time it takes to warm up each day. If you are only forging part time, a very large anvil will suck a lot of heat and you will have to reheat the work much more often. You can always have more than one. For welding small pieces, I set a 30# Columbia anvil right on the forge so it's warm and doesn't waste heat having to walk to it.

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I see you refer to a "shop" anvil. To me that means you do not mean a portable or travelling anvil.

One real expert on here is Uri Hofi. He produces the Hofi anvil and, I believe, makes only 1 size- that is 125Kg- about 275 pounds. Do you think there might be a reason why he chose that size? It also happens to be the size of my Brooks which I love dearly. Enough inertia so you aren't wasting effort moving the anvil with every hammer blow. Yet small enough so you can move it conveniently single handed. Big enough to handle almost any job unless you want to work on anchors or other huge projects.

Remember you can do small work on a big anvil but not the other way round!

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I would say to it just depends what size stock you plan to work. I have a 206lb Peter wright for a general shop anvil and it stays put very well when used. I work stock anything from 1/4in to 2in. I started with a 90lb and used that for quite a while, then decided to up grade to something bigger.

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any anvil that spends most of its time in a shop is a shop anvil ;)

but the only thing that matters is any size is better then no anvil and if posile match it for you work and if means are free at hand then the bigger the better :D

i dont think im ever gonna need anything bigger then my 142kg anvil but more then half of the work i do could be done as easily on my 70kg anvil
so as have been said you can do small stuff on a big anvil but not the other way around ;)

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To me, mass in the center of the anvil (base) is everything. It's amazing how metal moves much faster with a heavy anvil verses a lighter one, and saves energy as well. If your not looking at a portible set up, I would go with heavy.....

Try this, take a 1/2 square mild steel bar and draw a taper in the center of your anvil face on a 150lb anvil, then do the same thing right after on a 300lb anvil and notice the difference! Like previously mentioned, it also depends on the size of material you plan to work with. To me it doesn't matter, I work small and big material on my large anvil. My smaller anvils don't get used much any more.

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I have read nothing but good answers and opinions in my opinion.
After I have read the posts, I come away with the ideal that most responders are
in common agreement that a person should ask themselves the following
Question

Question: "What type of use will I be doing mostly with this Anvil?
It makes nothing but good sense to know what your needs will be first!

BUT! Now if we were to vote on a size range to use as a non-movable shop
anvil for general use, as oposed to the portable (floater) anvil, I would vote to obtain
an anvil starting in the range of 150 pounds, upward to approximately 250 pounds.

Thank all of you for your input! This is a great place to for me to learn!
Ted Throckmorton

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I was wondering how much does an anvil have to weigh to be considered a shop anvil?

I think there is one other consideration that has not been mentioned yet and that is the size of the anvil face. I started with a 155 pound anvil which worked fine except I kept wishing I had more room on top of the anvil for layout and orientation of the piece I was working on. Naturally, the piece is hot so it makes sense to use the anvil face for this so I can adjust it right there and not for instance, on a metal bench top. Even when I went to a 230 Peter wright I still did not have the room I preferred. I seem to have a hammer and another tool along with the work piece that finds itself on the anvil throughout the creative part of forging whatever I am trying to make. I just kept wishing for more room. This was the driving factor in looking for another anvil which I was very fortunate enough to find in a 400 pound Fisher. After using this anvil with a 6" wide face and 20 something inches long, I finally have the room I have been hoping for. It is an important factor to me but it may not be as much to another. There are several new anvil brands that wide and long, TFS, Rhino just to name a few. Just something to consider.....hope this helps......Scott

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about 275 pounds. Do you think there might be a reason why he chose that size?
....
small enough so you can move it conveniently single handed.



You, my friend, are a powerhouse.

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