Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Advice needed on Three Legged anvil stand

Recommended Posts

Here goes.

I picked up a nearly new JHM competitor anvil. Original John Moreno before anvilbrands picked up his design. Weight is 260#

I browsed the entire anvil stand thread and decided I prefer a three legged stand. Mostly because I prefer steel to stumps and to have another welding project.

Here are my questions

1. I wonder about mounting it so the horn goes over the single or double leg side? The anvil is weighted toward the horn and I wonder about stability.

2. All agree a thick plate for mounting the anvil is essential. If I can't find one inch plate, is it okay to weld lesser thicknesses along the edges to build it up? Or will that increase noise?

3. My material is going to be 2" x 4" x 1/4" for the legs and 1/4" plate for feet. Most of which I already have. Plans include threaded plugs to add sand as ballast. Question is how much angle should I cut on the legs? 15 deg? 20 deg?

4. Also planning on using silicone or similar between anvil and mounting plate. Question is which kind?

Thanks for the help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike, it is generally accepted that the legs should be about 22.5 degrees.  I like to have the horn over the single leg, but have it the way you like it.

I helped a student build a stand this past Friday and we used 1/2" thick plate, we then welded 2" X1/4" bar stock around the edges to form a 1" lip to help retain tools and other objects.  I think that you have enough weight with the anvil not to need to put sand in the legs, but it you want to go ahead.

Use any good adhesive silicone caulk to make a solid attachment.  On my 500# shop anvil the anvil is glued directly to the stand.  On my traveling anvil I put a layer of caulk on the bottom of the anvil and a piece of plastic wrap on the stand, then placed the anvil on it.  Now when I travel I can take the anvil off the stand and cut the weight that has to be moved.  The caulk really does help quieten the noise.

You didn't ask but I like the face of the anvil to be at wrist height.  Alex Bealer in The Art of Blacksmithing suggests knuckle high with you hand balled into a fist.  I think that this was for the striker and not the blacksmith.  If you raise the anvil you will stand up straight.  If the anvil is lower you will bend over and have a back ache after just a short time.

I like the 3 legged stand because you can get up close to the anvil (I stand at the end of the anvil with my toes under the stand and my hip against the anvil for a more stable stance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I filled my legs with sand, additional weight and supposedly helps to cut down on vibration/noise.  I decided on having the horn over the two legs as I frequently stand behind the anvil.  At least on mine I could change how it's mounted if I want to try it differently. 


I think if you search the forum there's a thread titled "show us your anvil stand".  Lots of different ideas there you might find interesting.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great idea with the plastic wrap Wayne. The sand was not just for weight, but for vibration and sound dampening. Shoulda made that clearer.

Thanks for the angles and the idea of the tray.

Dan, That was where I got the ideas for the stand. Yours, I think, was one that helped me decide on three legged.

Dan, do you think your anvil would be less stable if it were over the single leg?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Copied from another similar post.


"I have built several stands to date. Even the anvil stand and the anvil that Brian Brazeal uses as a a heavy hitting unit. Later I built stands for two of the Youngsmiths. Although I may be not as experienced as some I will now give you some insite on what Brian has shown me: If you are going to use an anvil at maximum performance then the legs should be about 8 degrees off vertical with the back two at 45 degrees off centerline as the third leg under the horn. The pads on the floor section should be about 1/2 in thick and sufficient width and length...with a bolt hole...to be mounted on the concrete. Use at least 1/2 bolts into the concrete (not lead sinkers) called red-heads. If possible use thick walled tubing with three passes of good welding at all positions. The deck for the anvil should fit and a minimum of 3/4 thick. I have used 1/2 inch and now realise it to be way too thin. drill and tap 3/8 pipe threads so that fine sand and oil can be installed down each leg to near the top...tapping on the tubing as the sand is installed. It does not take very much oil to fill. Install 3/8 plugs into the holes...the kind that are hex drive and will be lower than flush to the top. We drill two holes larger than 1/2 diameter at the waist area ...the hollowed out area between the feet of the anvil ....and use heavy duty angle iron bolted into those waist holes.

This may sound like a lot of work but it is much easier than working with angle iron material. The whole build takes about 2 hours. The oil and sand really are a necessity and can be easily determined when it is installed. This fixture will ring like a bell until the sand mix is installed. Yep...learned it the hard way.

There will be others that will say the angle is too sharp on the legs...Okay by me. But if you really strike on the anvil the near vertical will help reduce the springiness. On some others I built with a wider stance...which are better for twisting and bending from the hardee hole...well give me the near vertical one now and use the vise for twisting.

Angle iron with a bolt holding down the edge of the anvil is okay too. It is the simpliest way and is quite speedy. Should you want to remove the anvil two bolts loosened and carry away.

A deck with less than 3/4 thickness is too springy too...but 1/2 might be used if you added some ribs under to keep it strong. By the time you do all that then the welding could warp ..so I use 3/4 now.

Three legs allow it to fit any floor and you certainly do not want your anvil rocking about...been there done that.

Heigth is an argument that makes the Ford vs Chev debate seem insignificant. Some want the anvil top to be at knuckle height. I did too when starting but now have lowered so that I can hold long pieces between my legs as a support while I have two hands to beat out leaves and texture...or forge welding.

Measurement...the length of the legs when they are about 8 degrees mean that they are basically the same as deired height. At this sharp angle the long side of a triangle is almost the same as the triangle height. Very little difference until you get past 10 degrees off vertical.

On the single leg under the horn...why? Well we tend to lean againgt the horn at times to get a good straight look down the edge of the anvil. With one leg mounted that way there is more foot room.

Now that I have rubbed salt into some wounds of others I am ready to hear their input. Maybe they can change my mind...most likely not. I have a junkyard full of learned info about anvil stands. But ...BUT...if I ever get a really large anvil that I may never move... I may re-design the wheel for a new stand.

Carry on!"

-David Gaddis


I will add a note and say make sure the legs are spread out on the bottom of the plate in such a way the anvil's base will not be over any of the legs on the top side. This will not be a very stable design, I recently made this mistake on my own anvil stand.


Also, observe the anvil stand in this video.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Initially I tried it with the single leg under the horn. It felt just as stable. Then I saw someone who put the two legs in front or under the horn so I tried that and liked it better. Whether standing behind the anvil is right or not I don't know but seems comfortable to me and this way I'm straddling the one leg.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great paste Paul.

Really like the sand and oil filling on the legs.

I am still considering a wider footprint similar to Avadon's design. I have a suspicion the web and gusset plates will take any springiness out of the stand.

The waist area trays are a great idea.

Please keep them coming. Hopefully I can get this one off the ground later this week.

I do need to find a thick plate. One inch sounds right, but I would settle for 3/4". That was a good piece of advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two different stands, one light one for my 75# anvil (the one I carry on the truck) in witch I used 2" tubing. And 1 1/2 x 1/4" angle.
I built a box of angel to support laminated 2x stock, to witch I mount the anvil. The front leg, under the horn extends just about the length of the horn. The other two match its angle and form an equilateral triangle the other anvil is mounted to a laminated oak stump my dad built me. It was to short so again I built an angle iron box and mounted tree legs. I have rubber pads on the feet to help fight creap as my anvils aren't bolted down.

Oh, as a side note. Glenn suggested to me to place a 1/2 board on the anvil and give it a whack. ( some one else used aluminum, just recently) if you get a half moon to the fare side of the anvil raise it, or you get one to the near side lower it. Different hammers, and thicknesses of stock can effect this this. Glenn even suggested standing on a mat for thicker stock.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my three legged stand I did for a 150# Trenton. Very stable on uneven ground and very quite since I filled the legs with compressed decomposed granite. Also used a piece of 5/8" plywood under the anvil to help with the noise. Some people like the loud ring, I prefer it quieter. My main anvil right now at home is a 150# Fisher, love the lack of high pitched ring. post-35726-0-18497400-1383111239_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Less than 10 degrees off vertical...unless: The vertical line from the anvil base must travel through the interior lines of the legs. 2 in legs are minimum and 4 in legs are better.

When you have the legs splayed out at 20 and 30 degree angles the legs themselves hinder the walking spaces nearby. With one leg under the horn you can actually lean against the horn while forging to acquire a more stable working stance. Some people like this stance.

Basic geometry points toward a 30 degree leg angle but that ends up way out in the floor disrupting walking spaces.

Footings need to be 6 in circles or ovals(backyard measurement techniques) with a bolt hole for mounting securely onto the concrete. You will be glad you spend the extra trouble to make them thicker than 1/2 inch in the end.

Anvil bases for me now must be thicker than 1 inch, unless it is a transportable one.

Yes to the oils and sand. That technique does definitely reduce noise. And it was proven more than one time at Brian Brazeal's on those striking anvils.

Reflection: the idea here is to reflect all of the energy from the hammer to the anvil and back to the workpiece as a sandwich. SO does than anvil absorb energy? Mine does not...it reflects everything back up and becomes very efficient. Otherwise just let it wobble(vibrate) around the floor or mount it in sand. Nothing like forging on a sandbag...just requires a few more heats.

Exceptions: If you are gonna use you hardy as a twisty-turning station then a wider floor stance could be of interest. I use my vise to my twisting operations. Floor space is at a premium in my crowded shop.

Anvil height: you should already know how high you prefer your anvil prior to building your good stand. Higher makes intricate work nicer and much easier to see yet a bit lower is much nicer for really heavy hitting. We use a striking anvil for the heaviest stuff...very low working height (24...26 in). That is very effective for using bottom tools and top tools simultaneously on our projects.

But please be certain of what you want and where you want it mounted. Do not dismay though because anchor bolts can easily be ground off level to allow for the new location.

Good luck and

Carry on

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're looking for a welding project, consider using solid stock to weld up a plate instead of hunting for something really thick.  It's usually easier to find 1" square bar than it is to find 1" thick plate that's long enough and wide enough for your needs.  When I welded up my anvil stand, I used it as an excuse for a welding project.  Not only did it get rid of a goodly amount of mangled 1" scrap that I had, but I got to lay down a ton of short beads!


Leg angle?????


Don't pay attention to any set numbers.  The proper leg angle depends entirely on the finished height of the stand; the dimensions of the top plate of the stand, and how big you want the overall footprint to be.  When I built my stand, I started with the OAH, including the anvil, and calculated all the numbers from there.  As you can see in the picture, the leg angle isn't very extreme, but the spread at the feet is a good bit wider than expected because of the length of run needed to get to the ground.


Overall height should be where you don't have to stoop even the littlest bit.  The old guide, just brushing the knuckles when standing at the side, is moderately serviceable if you're young.  With my old back, I like an anvil that allows me to stand straight.  I can adjust my hammer arm and my tong hand to compensate for any needed angle changes while working on a project, and my back doesn't hurt at the end of the day.


A decent rule of thumb for me:  The feet of the legs need to be under the outlying points where hammering could incite tipping.  On a london-pattern anvil, that means the feet of the legs need to be under the hardy hole and the mid-point of the horn.  Those are the two farthest out points where you'll be working with a hammer and a plumb-line from either point will show you where to put the feet so you know the maximum size you need.  An inch either way won't hurt or help, but going too much wider than this isn't going to increase the stability of the anvil in a measurable way.  Going narrower will increase the risk of a tip over, and that's why you see a lot of lumber "stumps" ringed at the bottom with 2x4s to make the base wider.  The addition of flat plate on the feet is a good way of widening the stance without adding to the trip hazard.




Weight - can't stress it enough.  If you can't bolt your anvil to the ground, you need to make the stand as solid and heavy as possible so it doesn't bounce around.  Even at 250#, there's a chance it will walk on you as you work, and that's both aggravating and counter-productive.  I just watched a video where the smith didn't secure his stand, and it was hilarious to watch as the vibration shook the anvil all over the shop, knocking his own tools of the attached tool tray.  Don't be that guy.  Gussets are your friend.  Make sure the welds are strong, and flex points are reinforced so you don't get a walking anvil.  And make sure you're anvil is positively attached to the stand.


I'm a huge proponent of bedding the anvil in silicone caulk.  In the above photo, the anvil's sitting on a roofing shingle as a gasket between the two surfaces, but it's a Fisher anvil and doesn't ring like a church bell.  My other anvils all get the silicone treatment simply because I like my hearing where it is!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a pretty nice looking stand there Mr VaughtT.

One thing I do not remember seeing addressed here is to implement a follow through hole beneath the hardy. Sometimes drifts and other tools need to be driven completely through from the anvil surface down toward the floor.

Most people would enjoy using your stand.

Carry on

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Gaddis.


I've heard a lot of folks talk about through-holes in the stand so something can reach all the way to the ground, but to be honest... I've never needed such a feature.  The Hofi anvil and stand functions on that principle and it really got me to thinking about doing something similar when I built this stand.


But when I looked back at all the forging I've done over the years, I couldn't find a single instance where I needed that type of clearance.  Were I to upset a corner in the middle of a 30" bar, I would simply move to the vise and do it there.  Driving a drift through the hardy could possibly need the clearance, but then I'd look at shortening the length of the drift.  From the top of my anvil to the top of the plate it sits on is 13".  If my drift is more than 13" long, I've done some miscalculating somewhere.


Not to say that such a feature wouldn't come in handy.  But, when looking through an image search on the internet, the number of working anvils with through-clearance under the hardy hole seems to be significantly less than 1%.  That lead me to believe it was more a desired feature than a needed one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Bumping an oldish post because my anvil stand rocks.  Not like "rock on, dude" but like "rock a bye baby".  When I strike sideways over the edge the whole thing rocks a bit. It's just a 115# Hay Budden and mounted on 5 or 6 slabs of 6 inch + thick oak.  the whole thing is nailed/bolted together and I thought I had it secured into the ground under my cement floor.  Guess not.  Question is what's the best way to secure the whole assembly to the ground?  My shop floor is semi-traditional being straight cement (no aggregate) that I wetted down over a week or two to fuse into a nice smooth and solid floor, but it does have a little give.  I think the answer may be to drill/dig a couple of holes on a couple of sides of the stand and then fill them with concrete and put a J-bolt in each, then bolt angle to the stand and snug down nuts onto the bolts.


Otherwise I suppose I could pull the stand up and concrete under it and then bolt.  I like the hole solution better because I can dig those holes pretty deep (post-hole digger size and it won't affect the anvil height) and put in some pretty robust concrete pilings.


too much info?  Not clear?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't actually say how your mount is currently secured to the ground. Is it dug in and the cement cured around it?

What does the base of your stand look like? Do the slabs of oak you mentioned lie flat/parallel to the ground, giving you a large flat surface as your footprint? You can get a much more stable structure if you change the base such that it sits on 3 raised points as a tripod(add blocks or carve/route out the middle of the lowest slab).

If the floor slab is not dead flat the flat base can rock and wobble if there is a high spot underneath it. The tripod will always sit solidly pretty much regardless of the surface beneath it.

Pics would go a long way towards troubleshooting too :)

Good luck!

Edit: re-reading it seems like you have already sunk the base into the slab and are still getting movement in use? Is it moving at the base/slab joint or at the anvil/base joint?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...