Zack Ross

What does Anvil weight have to do with anything?

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So I'm trying to learn more about forging. I'd like to get into tool, decoration, and probably weapon making. Everywhere I've looked has advised a larger anvil 75lbs+ but I can't seem to understand why. I understand the difference in types of anvil except for weight. Does an anvil weighing 150lbs have an advantage over the 100lbs of the same make, if so, what's the difference? Better bounce back or what? Everyone talks about how weight matters for your application but I've yet to read from any book, forum, or site as to why it matters. 

 

Thanks,

Zack

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Google anvil weight iforgeiron.

Many threads Specifically answer your question.

See you back here in no less than 12 hours, and tell us what you have learned.

Welcome aboard, and if you will add your general location to your profile, you are likely to find other members in your area.

Robert Taylor

 

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Wow we probably have hundreds of posts on this site discussing anvil weight and the physics of forging; I suggest you dig into this forum...

In general: why don't you forge on a piece of steel foil instead of an anvil?  

The larger the anvil the more inertia it has so when you hit a workpiece on it more energy goes into deforming the workpiece than moving/bouncing the anvil itself. So if you are doing a lot of work you can tell at the end of the day the difference between working on a 75# anvil and say a 150# anvil.  You get more work done with less effort.  You can also use heavier hammers without worrying about breaking the anvil with larger anvils. Which also promotes efficiency.

Now if you are just doing light work a few hours a month then it may not make much of a difference to you and being able to move a smaller anvil easier might be the better trade off.

Think of it like transportation:  Would you choose a golf cart to commute 30 miles each way to work?    If you only need to go a mile to the store do you need a SUV?

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I'm not a very experienced blacksmith at all, but I guess you would want a bigger anvil for certain jobs in the same way you would use a bigger hammer for certain jobs.

Although saying that plenty of people seem to get by with rail road track anvils or large bits of steel

I think it just depends on the kind of work you are planning to do

Also where are you located Zack Ross?

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My 280# doesn't bounce (perceptibly).  It doesn't wiggle.  It doesn't rock.  It doesn't care that I'm swinging a heavy 2-handed sledge at it.  Sure you could emulate that with a lighter anvil mounted securely to a stand with lots of mass, but many don't.  

Not saying you need big to produce quality work here--just that it's a real pleasure to bang an anvil that isn't trying to dance.

On the other hand, the guy with the light anvil and stand can go a lot of places I can't.

Pick the partner which fits your lifestyle...chubby or svelte.   Better yet, become an anvil polygamist and have both around to meet all your possible needs.  Too many anvils is never enough.

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Thanks everyone, and @ThomasPowers I understand the inertia part I'm just surprised how much of a difference there is. But I can't see why having too big of an anvil would be a problem other than for transportation. Such as how you would use a small one for jewelry, but I'm sure that has a simple answer somewhere.

 

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4 minutes ago, Zack Ross said:

But I can't see why having too big of an anvil would be a problem other than for transportation.

If you're on a budget (and don't get some impossibly incredible deal), COST can be an issue. Frankly, if I didn't still have the 148# anvil my parents gave me for my 15th birthday, I've got no idea how I'd afford even that today.

If you're in a small or temporary space where you need to move your equipment around on a regular basis, MOBILITY could be an issue. I'm not talking about transporting by truck from seller to buyer or anything like that; I'm just talking about shifting the anvil a couple of feet over every time you want to forge.

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Anvils are sized according to the work being done. Jewelry uses a small anvil, large material or stock uses a much larger anvil.

 

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Depends on the jewelry. Have you seen the bracelets that elephants are wearing this season?

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You must have a market for elephant bracelets that I do not know about (grin)

A 100 to 150 pound anvil will do a whole lot of work. Small enough to keep the price affordable and large enough to do the work required.

When you think of anvils, also consider the time period in which they were used, and the products that were being produced.

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Easy method of showing: take your index and middle finger and separate the ends by about 3/4" now shove them  so that the heel of your large anvil goes between them KEEPING them 3/4" apart!  Yes you can build a bridge for your large anvil's hardy hole to do that sort of work on, (forks), but a nice thin heel works very well indeed.  Why my smallest anvil and largest anvil are mounted close to each other.

Also when you need to reach over the table and hit from the far side of a piece---easier with an anvil that is not as wide,

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I started with a 100# Peter Wright and spent most of my time chasing the anvil around the shop.  Forging on the anvil would cause bounce back and walking.  Of course, I could have bolted it to the floor and maybe stopped that.  I also use the off side of the anvil often.  With anything less than my 500# double horned anvil it moves when I strike from the side, even a 270# anvil.

Yes Virginia, size does matter!

Let me know if I can help you.

Wayne

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I found that sledging on my 515# anvil could get it to walk so I put a couple of fence staples along the front and sides sticking up 3/8" as a fence and that works fine...

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 In my opinion,  you should look at it this way.  Basically we want to do what ever we can to minimize the amount of "wasted energy" that happens when the anvil shakes, moves, and dances around the floor.  This isn't always achieved by having a bigger anvil. If you have a 600 pound Anvil  on an uneven base, it's going to move no matter how you had it. If you have a 75 pound anvil and it is bolted solidly to the concrete, via our fabricated steel base, there won't be any movement at all.  And from my experience, I would argue that a normal, regular sized Anvil (100lbs or so),  for normal work, is more than adequate for anything and everything.  If you have An anvil  of this size or bigger, and it moves around, that simply means that your anvil is not secured properly.   I would actually not rather use an Anvil above 400 pounds or so,  because the face usually gets so wide that you have to lean over at an awkward angle to get to the far edge,  especially if you are like me and you forge with your body perpendicular to the Anvil (kinda like Brian brazeal).  My current anv is about 150 lbs,  and it is held to a fabricated, three Legged steel base with bolts and then the legs of the base are bolted firmly to the concrete.  This is the same way most striking and anvils  are held down, and they perform extremely well and only weigh in total like 75 pounds.  I do agree that a slightly larger and anvil does have its advantage when it comes to working surface area and mass under the horn(s),  but in my conclusion as long as you're comfortable with the size of your anvil... size does not matter!  What matters is how, and how well your anvil is mounted.

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On 6/22/2017 at 0:17 PM, Zack Ross said:

So I'm trying to learn more about forging. I'd like to get into tool, decoration, and probably weapon making. Everywhere I've looked has advised a larger anvil 75lbs+ but I can't seem to understand why. I understand the difference in types of anvil except for weight. Does an anvil weighing 150lbs have an advantage over the 100lbs of the same make, if so, what's the difference? Better bounce back or what? Everyone talks about how weight matters for your application but I've yet to read from any book, forum, or site as to why it matters.

Hi Zack ... all very valid points above, however your own perception/experience is what counts most of the time.

I suggest you find a piece of rail, any size will do for this experiment. Ear plugs essential.

Put it on a stand of sorts, secure it with screws nails clamps etc. grab a hammer and a flat bar and give it a workout as best as you can on it.

Next have the same rail vertical and secure it the best you can, for example against a post, a bench leg, a door frame something that allows to work on the end of the rail without it falling on your toes. Then take the same piece of steel and mash it on that rail end as best as you can.

You will surely be able to tell the difference between having a bit more mass under your hammer vertical then horizontal.

Then you could try a bigger rail and a bigger hammer.

If you decide you want to forge something, go to a scrap yard, toss the rail on the pile and find the biggest meanest piece of round stock you can find, secure it vertical on top of a stump and get cracking. Yes, a forklift tine (arm) works too and an anvil is better and a bigger anvil is even better, and the size of the anvil is proportional to the hammer you need to use according to the job etc.

But get started with whatever you can find and work yourself up from there. It is all about the journey not the destination. :)

 

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Like in many stationary tools at the shop, you always wish you had heavier equipment: the anvil, the working bench, the power hammer, the press (either any type of mechanical or hydraulic press), the crane/hoist and the list goes on...

I will give you an example with my working bench. I had a 150 kg working bench and the post vice was attached to it. Any work with the hammer at the vice would rock all the vice and bench. I was offered a 24 mm thick plate and I made a 500 kg work bench. I attached the post vice to it and now the bench does not rock when I do hammer work at the vice ... but when I put my 60 kg chunk of steel on top of the bench and I hammer stuff on it, the 500 kg bench rocks a bit ... I wish I had a 1500 kg work bench ...

The smiths in this video work perfectly with what seems to be 8 kg sledge hammer heads firmly attached to planet Earth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qol5Ey3sImQ

 

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