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Hello there, I am a new cutler and I want to get into forging some of my knives the old fashion way. Thus I need an anvil, but I don't really know much about them. I know it needs to have a nice hard face but thats about it. For making small to medium size blades how big of an Anvil should I get? What should I expect to pay? Are there any blade forging books you guys would recommend?


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The books are the easy part: Start with: "The Complete Bladesmith", "The Master Bladesmith" and perhaps "The Pattern Welded Blade" all by James Hrisoulas (also his 4th one when it comes out!).

As for anvils; well location makes a big difference on price. Lots of other considerations: new vs old, london pattern vs european vs "improvised". Will you be moving it a lot?

I would suggest 100 pounds as a minimum with 150 being better as an all round shop anvil. The big ones are nice but usually overkill for someone starting out---I have more hours pounding on my 93# Arm and Hammer than on my 515# Fisher as the light one goes to demos and gets more day long use while the shop one is more catch as catch can; but the big one sure is nice!

If I was going to buy a new one I'd go with a Nimba as it's design provides maximum metal under the face.
If I was looking for an old one there are a slew of good brands: Peter Wright and Mousehole and a number of less commonly found british made anvils. Hay-Budden, Trenton, Arm and Hammer (*NOT* Vulcan which has an arm and hammer logo cast proud!) The cast Steel anvils like Columbian and the Swedish ones, etc. As a special case Fisher anvils have a thick steel face but a cast iron body. They are a great anvil and *quiet*! (Vulcan has the same sort of makeup but a much thinner face and lower grade casting and is not on my "suggested" list save at the bottom)

What you want to avoid are ASOs Anvil Shaped Objects, best example are Harbor Freight cast iron ASOs---the cast iron will *dent* under hot steel and is fragile to boot. FAR FAR better to buy a large chunk of steel at the scrap yard and use it as an anvil than to spend more money for a cast iron ASO!

Look up the ball bearing test for evaluating anvils found in the wild. One key to finding less costly anvils is to have cash ready to jump on a deal when you run across one. Even an extra hour can result in someone else staggering off with *your* anvil!

As a bladesmith one of my favorite anvils is the most worn one I own. The gentle swale in the face is *PERFECT* for blade straightening and so I may forge the blade on the dead flat 515#'r but will go to the worn anvil to straighten it!

Lastly remember that the London Pattern Anvil design is about 200 years old. A big rectangular hunk of metal has been used as anvils for over 2000 years, (Japanese swords are made on such anvils even to today!), so don't get hunk up on the london pattern. Consider what these friends of mine did: http://www.marco-borromei.com/fork.html

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Lots of good information there Mr. Powers. Thank you from another newbie who just got his 1st anvil, a 120# Mouse Hole.
There certainly is a wealth of info on this site & it's nice to see it shared with others like myself.
Just one quick ? that isn't clear to me. Why would the worn anvil with a gentle swale be *PERFECT* for blade straightening, as opposed to one with a dead flat face? Logic tells me a flat face would be better, but obviously I'm missing something.

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Yeah, fantastic response. I am going to check out those books and start looking for an 150 lb anvil. I liked the page with your friends home made fork lift anvil. I have seen several rail road rail anvils, but I liked how that anvil was vertical. Would it be ok to weld a hardened piece of steel onto a vertically oriented railroad track?


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