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Bogdan Popov's Anvil

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Special Bogdan Popov’s anvil is made after ancient stake anvils samples and revised according to author’s experience in the art of free hand forging.

The face has convex surface which was an obligate feature of ancient anvils.

The horn has egg-shape cross section to provide the additional opportunities for free hand forging ( speed up drawing, forming steps, notches etc.). The face corner pieces close to the horn are rounded, while the opposite one are left sharp.

The edges of the face parallel to the horn have varying curvature radius. The face edge opposite to the horn is sharp (there are options with notches). All this features taken in whole make up a precise tool, which gives opportunity to solve almost every task, especially those associated with tool and blade forging or forge welding.

The anvil is cast of tool carbon steel by evaporative model method. Each model is custom made by hands .

After casting and recrystalisation annealing, the anvil surface is ground, polished and then zone hardened and tempered.

Parameters of the base anvil model:

Face 120x150 mm
Height 240 mm
Horn length 180 mm
Wight 27 kg
Face hardness 58 HRC

Depending on specific requirement the anvil could be produced in smaller or bigger weight and size, while preserving the basic proportions.


Setting up the anvil

The anvil is set into specially forged pipe, which is dug into the ground and placed upon the thick steel plate ( there is also an option with a short sized pipe which is set upon the plate on the ground level). The above ground part of the pipe is fixed in the 23 section of steel drum which is filled with earth (stones, sand) and then wedged on the top by wooden wedges.

This set up creates the following advantages:

  • Self wedging of the anvil in the precisely formed steel pipe seat
  • Low noise level during the work
  • Maximum connection of the anvil with the Earth
  • Lateral stability
  • Use of the above ground drum support as the tool table or additional working surface

When necessary the anvil can be very quickly pulled from the seat and converted to transport position or simply taken for safe storage (for instance during night).


Due to this set up method the anvil makes possible to forge relatively massive work pieces (up to 5 kg) almost completely providing for the needs associated with free hand forging). At the same time its small wight makes it possible to bring the anvil anywhere starting from carrying in hands and completing with air luggage.

It is worth to mention the low ecological impact of the anvil, since its small weight means less resources were used for production (metal and energy) as well as less pollution was created.

Transporting the anvil

In transport position, the anvil is inserted in the setting pipe (short length is used)) and turned upside down. The wheels are fastened to the anvil and handle is fixed to the bottom of setting pipe. In this position the anvil is easily carted around even for relatively big distances.

Optionally the anvil without setting pipe can be carried in strong double canvas bag.

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that is funny - my friend just emailed me these pictures :) i m not aware really of the minutiae of how great this thing is regarding blade making and stuff but its Soo beautiful simple and beautifully formed, like a work of art, i really like the looks and the style of the anvil, and how it is transported!! so cool. dancho did you make this one (the anvil) and the hammers yourself? ? can you talk a bit about the hammers for me? i really like looking at the different anvils, although i only have one very large clumsy one myself which i use, they take on a kind of cartoon-like illustrative quality which makes me want them!! i like the curves and lines, combined with the ULTIMATE use for working all manner of jobs. whats not to love.....

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Thank you Beth! This is very pleasant to hear. I tried to make the shape according to my ideas of ethtetics as well as function.

Yes I did this anvil myself and a a dosen of others for my brothers and sisters in fire. I make models from polystyrol and bring them to foundries, then grind, heat treat , polish and make setteing pipes.
of ancient
The hammers were also my revision of ancient long bent forging hammer. But I will start a separate topic about them and tell a little bit more later. Let's discuss first the anvil.

I woul like just to share that these both ancient and modern tools tought me a good lesson how small and simple tools can be very effective.

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dancho im really so glad to hear that aesthetics came into your design, and as it IS your design may i officially congratulate you! i have never been able to understand why a tool cannot also have a deliberately administered beauty! the first pair of tongs i made successfully (it did take a while...) i chose to decorate with a heart shaped rivet, and it makes me love them that much more. shape and decoration are powerful!!!

(i have cast things before, and Had them cast for me, the last option at some expense ( art works) but i have talked to somebody recently about this poly.. method - it sounds very good and kinda cheaper! is polystyrol similar to polystyrene ? i am guessing it is finer/denser grain to carve into ..? in which case i really would like to try to make sculpture from it.. do you think it would be suitable medium for sculpture use? )

i am very keen to read others thoughts and yours on the whole subject of small scale forging (or working in general with your hands..?) and tools in scale with ones body. its an interesting subject, esspecially when we can be so easily tempted into thinking large expensive tools are to be envied! i think prat of the beauty of using tools in relation to your body size, is that, in a creative way, you can express more directly into the material, expression is mainly what im interested in. the direct nature of the mark making and manipulation is surely lost by bigger and bigger degrees (maybe) the larger and more disproportionately powerful the tools your using? your own energy transfering directly (as directly as possible - shortest distance) "as the crow flies" rather than through energy absorbing tooling? i am thinking out loud, but like i said i am at the moment talking to my friend about these things, and the subject is in the front of my brain. i like this whole idea and will happily engage in conversation about it all! :)

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i have to add though, that in no way am i dismising powered tools in terms of expression, i have recently had a great time with my phammer making almost accidental marks on the metal, and have been very excited by some of the results. i am liking the mistakes, so, where the material slips, and judders, and creates a very unplanned mark/texture. this i want to continue with, becasue it is exciting and might offer ways to express the nature of material, but i would like to clarify what is essentially an instinct about working in scale, and what actually results from that. what is the BEST that results from that. :) physically and philosophically. . COME BACK JAKE! this is one for YOU!!

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That is a very nice looking anvil! It could be a good type to transport to shows. I agree with Beth... I like the hammers too! You have a good eye for lines! I like the idea of having a convex surface and I think that a concave surface is also nice... in lieu of a concave surface, I often use my hardy hole to create gentle curves.

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Yes Beth, your thoughts closely reremble mine in terms of tools scale relating to human body. Also you said very well about direct contact with metall through hand tools. I feel very much the same. Power hammer is great but it will not do what hands will do . I understood this very well when started to research ancient ruusian axe making. Only hands. Even the hammers which you see on the picturea still have to be forged mostly by hands. Power hammer is strong but does only very simple work.


The idea behind my search fro the right tool was always how to fit blacksmithing in to natural environment. I call this approach "light blacksmithing". I want to be light and free and do my free forging with the light and free tools.

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dancho, this is so much the same as or has many corresponding similarities to how i like to look at drawing (and other things) about the light Intent as well as touch, so your not labouring against many thoughts, but are working unconsciously as much as possible so in Your Flow.. the state where the most and the best is achieved, and with the best feeling. so with forgework this comes partly through repetiton ( alot i think through that) so that the muscles take on a memory of their own, to do with the movement your doing, till it becomes natural, and Stored! when the moto skills are taken care of, the creative or the Other can come in more easily, and even that,can have the lightest of touches (using your language )so that after any preliminary planning is done, the materials and the tools play a part in the language and ultimately the 'words' of the finished piece. if these are within your palms in your fingers, they are so much nearer the brain connections or the nerve endings ( i wish i knew about biology! ) the intent or the instinct is directly through hand to tool. i have been thinking about also, the debate amoungst artists of where the value lies with computor art , so the ipad drawing etc that has beocme very popular. my thoughts, although this does seem to be a lot of fun, and any fluidity youve gained from drawing repetiton and observation can still come into play, i reckon you just DO lose a bit in translation, it remains one dimensional however fancy the software, the sense are deprived partly, there is no Noise of the pencil, the actual graphite grinding off onto the surface of the paper, the texture of paper, the skin of your hand on the work, and associated smells if you want to get right into it! the visual is certainly not the entire experience.. then the line you make, (where you have already lost a bit of touch of how the line got there and where it came from, ) has to appear under the glass or whatever it does, broken into pixels (however small or detailed ) its then the whole digital/ analogue argument, and to me there is No arguement!! i am trying to talk about too many subjects here as usual, but the essence and the thread, runs through all creative things you choose to do with your hands, its about transferal of unique energy i guess, which after all is all we have as makers that sets us different from anyone else! the most direct path - everytime!! apologies for waffley post :)

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(i have cast things before, and Had them cast for me, the last option at some expense ( art works) but i have talked to somebody recently about this poly.. method - it sounds very good and kinda cheaper! is polystyrol similar to polystyrene ? i am guessing it is finer/denser grain to carve into ..? in which case i really would like to try to make sculpture from it.. do you think it would be suitable medium for sculpture use? )

I do not have much experince with making models apart from these anvils but I gues it will be OK for sculptures. I take dense polystyrol from building markets (it is usually rose or kind of yellow -rose colour). It is sold in sheets 4 cm thick which I glue together and then cut with one of my own forged knives. Then I use sand paper to get the final shape. Probably there is a better method (like using hot stirng to cut) but I use simplest. White polystyrol with big grains doesn't work that well -- tends to brake though you can get it in big thick pieces.

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this method sounds very cool and simple and tactile. i guess your doing it by eye, which i would say is the best way! i remember trying to use polystyrene years ago at college but it was indeed very large grained and held a lot of static and stuck to everythign! horribel! and i was told it lets off a lot of gas when you cut into it too , i never found out if this is true but i didnt like the sound of it.
can you tell me convex top of your anvil and why this is on ancient anvils and not often deliberately seen now? i dont have enough smithing experience to figure out why a rounded top is better particularly, although as ive said i love the shape!

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can you tell me convex top of your anvil and why this is on ancient anvils and not often deliberately seen now?


I ask myself the same question about why it is forgotten today! The reason why convex top is good I think about the same why the hammer face is convex and not flat like a set hammer. Actually now after several years of forging on these conex anvils when I come back to flat ones I get this feeling --like forging with flat face hammer. With convex shape you realy FEEL the strike point not only with the hammer but with the anvil too. I can't really explain it. You should feel it.

It seems like in many ways during industrial times (200 years ago) anvils while got bigger and versatile (holes and such) lost something. Same about hammers, same about axes.

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just as i read that i can IMAGINE what that feels like, and also, it so obvious when you said the reason!!!! so this is quite mad to have a flat face then.... i can imagine for drawing out, but do you not need any section flat ever? the long edge is flat enough maybe? i suppose the point where you strike is small.... my physics is not very strong... :) it sounds like it is a more dynamic making the whole forging thing more effective and plasticine.. ? i would love to try the difference!

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you think the machine made anvils lost the hand /body scale/ body made thing? a valuable ingredient that we have let slip away with our anvils?

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Well, I wouldn't say modern flat anvils are that bad. After all it is the hammering skills that matter most not the anvil. But you are right -- this convex shape gives you feeling more like modeling metal by hands.

I would say it is good to have both anvils in the shop. For general artist smithing big flat one is OK but when comes for heavy sculpturing relatively small pieces (like axe or hammer maybe) the small convex one I think better.

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Very nice Dancho, very. Clean lines, well balanced plenty of face and a versatile horn. I'd like to give it a try under the hammer myself and see how it fits me. Making tools that work well often lends a beauty of it's own, I've always been of the "form follows function" school and when it does the beauty sings to me.

Thanks for sharing your work.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Some year ago my friend while cycling in Middle Asia made this picture of Uzbek smiths. Look. Their anvil is made from steel railaroad bumper (mushroom shape which is seen between carriages). It is convex. I heard that 50 yers ago in Uzbekistan all the anvils were like mine realtively small and convex

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nicely out frosty - the beauty of that anvil Does sing :)
so the more deformation you actually want, the more this convex face will start to work for you.. the forgework i do is nowhere near the amount of deformed i would like it to be! when you have so much choice of guage and profile, as many of us do, you have to go out of your WAY avoid to get the massive amounts of 'plastico' deformation that make something look and be so special. this is i suppose skilled smithing, and like i said i dont have those skills yet. i have romantic notions of material worked all over its surface as being way better, as having higher virtue because of the imprint of human hand all over and into the fabric of the piece. because you have to be in such close contact with the material for this type of work and have such a knowledge of how the material moves to get it to flow and be good, its like any skilled "craft" where the movements of your hands directly and effectively alter the shape of the material. yep theres definately virtue in that for me!

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lucky is that question for me?? ! how much virtue in wonderful hand made persuits? unspeakable amounts. undefineable :)

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I wanted to know how much the anvil is, but Beth's interpretation was welcome. It seems like a nice anvil for demos and such

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I think this is a very handsome anvil.
I would be interested in hearing about your experiences with having an item like this cast. I have in the past loosely enquired about having small bladesmiths anvils cast and would be interested in how you found the whole process.

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apologies lucky - i did think your question was a little odd if directed at me!!! i would be interested to hear more about how the anvil was to make too..

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Saw this anvil months ago at another site ... seems perfect for those who want basic/primitive/inexpensive as a total outlay/ portability and stylish. It crosses so many thresh holds. Copying one by casting your own or doing a serious weldup from suitable scrap would be fun. Concave tops, as dicussed here in other threads, seems to maximize your work force without having to go to a heavier anvil that you may not be able afford. Also, to some extent it seems it would be very helpful in working with a striker ... a tool that is so wonderful to look at. Seems fresh out of nature, maybe Fairie made with just a bit of magic hidden in there. Thanks for sharing!!

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