Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Improvised anvil steel

Recommended Posts


I've been slowly buying some basic blacksmithing tools over the last few months. Hopefully sometime soon I'll get everything I need to make a few knives and maybe some tools. I'll need an anvil soon, it's going to be the last thing I need to get started, probably the most expensive also. I don't want to buy something new and all the used anvils in my area are beat to hell. I currently have have a nice 12 inch chunk of railroad track but would also like something bigger and heavier.

The company I work for buys huge pieces of T1 and 4140 steel. We have large chunks of booth kinds of steel in irregular shapes that just sit around collecting dust. The boss said I can take whatever I want. I know the steel has been heat treated, we machine it hardened most of the time, and from what the guys in the machine shop say it's very hard compared to when its untreated.

Would hardened T1 or 4140 make a decent anvil? Is one better then the other to use as an anvil? If it isn't going to work as an anvil can I use it for anything else blacksmith tool related? 

Thanks for your time,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you most need to make knives is *experience*!  With experience you can make good knives using rocks for tools and a hole in the ground for a forge. Putting off getting started till you have the "perfect set of tools" is just putting off getting what you really need.

Take a look at the anvil being used by the Japanese swordmaker in the section of the National Geographic's "Living Treasures of Japan"  it was on youtube last I checked.  Does any of your chunks look like that?  The London Pattern anvil has been in its current configuration about 200 years; big chunks of metal have been used as  anvils for over 2000 years (and the further back you go the smaller they tended to be!)

Also on the net is a video of a kukri maker that uses a sledge hammer head as his anvil.  Try to fight your preconceptions and get to hammering!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That first one is a knuckle off a RR car coupler if I am not mistaken; I once found a broken one and had a free anvil of a good weight and lots of neat curves to use as well as the flat.  My Y1K anvil (based on a lot of different archeological finds and illustrations)


A stack of "anvis" from my local scrapyard at 20 cents US a pound:anvils1.jpg.d3627507389903222aee2cd362261ed9.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A thread on beginner anvils would be a great  resource to post when the question presents itself, that happens quite a lot. From my own experience I think confusion sets in because people overvalue a horn, hardy, and pritchel holes. Mainly because they don't know how easy it is to get the same thing done with an alternative, be it a square tube hardy holder or improvised round shape for the horn. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

I was going to start a thread discussing beginners anvil options, that's why I have been "borrowing" folks anvil pictures

1 hour ago, Charcold said:

A thread on beginner anvils would be a great  resource to post when the question presents itself, that happens quite a lot.

@Charles R. Stevens's photo-heavy comment that was up above has been split into its own pinned thread.

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...