Jump to content
I Forge Iron

A collection of improvised anvils


Recommended Posts

Thanks frosty! I am now just waiting for everything to arrive and I'm set to finish the forge.

I do have another question... I may have access to an anvil, but it's not 100%. What I do have is a block of mild steel 8.5" long * 6" wide * 4" thick. Can one hammer steel on something like that? Or would I have to harden one surface?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 515
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

You have a usable improvised anvil. I would stand it up and use the four inch x six inch side as the face. Your anvil will be harder than a piece of steel at forging temperatures.  Having the 8.5 inches under the steel is more efficient. Use it until you can find something better. 

Pnut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a piece of vertical rail and surprisingly it's not got any dings in it. I radiused the edges on the cap to avoid chipping. It's 29in tall and more metal under the work does make a difference. I used a short piece of vertical rail about 12in and it was noticably harder to move the metal I was working. 

RRP make sure you round off the edges of your hammers and anvil.

Pnut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a classic "don't let the best be the enemy of the good" situation.  Folks have been forging on soft wrought iron anvils and even on rocks for around 3000 years; but I've run into a large number of people who say they can't start forging because they don't have a london pattern anvil---a design of limited history and location. 

"A 1000 hours forging on a US$100 anvil will make you a better smith than 100 hours forging on a $1000 anvil!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you stand it up and use the smaller side to work on there will be more mass under each hammer blow. You want more mass between the workpiece and the earth so if you stand it up it will be more efficient. I would use the 4x6in side for the face you'll be working on.  I do all my drawing out over the edge and use different pipes and sometimes logs for making curves for hooks etc. 

Pnut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't tell from the pics but you don't have it on a table do you? You want as direct a line of support under your hammer blows as possible. The more steel directly under the hammer blow the more effectively it will move metal for you. This is called "depth of rebound". The shock wave from a hammer blow is conducted through the anvil at the speed of sound in steel until it reaches the far side where it rebounds do to elastic rebound. The returning shock wave will reach the surface while the hammer is still decelerating in the softened steel you hit and return a notable amount of energy to your work.

If you lay the block on it's side it will flex with the blows and energy will be lost flexing the steel block. Make sense?

Something else to consider being no forging work is done to your piece that isn't directly between hammer and anvil so you don't really need the anvil's face to be much larger than the hammer's face. Straightening on the side of the anvil is surprisingly easy as you can sight straight down the side and tap it where it's needed much more easily than on the face.

I almost never use the horn on my anvil, I can do virtually anything on the face or over an edge I can do with the horn. The exception being, using the horn as a bottom fuller to help draw work in one dimension rather than two. Think of forging hot iron like pushing on poop with your thumb, it will spread in both dimensions, in a circle around your thumb. Got the picture :wacko:? Now think of laying your finger flat on the poo:huh: and pressing down, it spreads mostly in one dimension on opposite sides of your finger and very little lengthwise under it. Yes? Well, that's what a fuller does for you, easier directional drawing and there are different radius fullers.

A horn on an anvil is a conical shape so you have access to a wide range of radii. The downside being it IS conical so it WILL draw one side of your work slightly more than the other causing it to curve. Often I just step to the other side and let the horn counter the curve.

A horn isn't a bad thing, it just isn't necessary or even that important to good forging or everybody's anvils would have them and horns are pretty rare in working smithies around the world.

A nice block like yours will make a fine anvil and when you find another you like better, this one will be an excellent bench anvil. A man just can't have too many anvils you know, even if you have to enlarge or build a larger shop. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No it's just on a sawhorse at work. My plan is to cut some 4*4's and use angle iron and flat bar to hold it all together. I wasn't sure about a horn... I could make one and weld it to the block, but if it's not necessary to have one then I'll just use it as is. Thanks again, I'm super happy about joining this fourm... Lots of great help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4x4 works fine if stood on end and it's easy to whittle a socket your anvil will slip into so you don't need to do anything fancy to  make it secure. I lag screw and glue lumber together when I make heavy use stands with it. I use a spade bit to drill a hole large enough for a heavy washer that'll fit the screws and deep enough the screw head and washer is below the surface. The stand for my swage block is made from guardrail posts I collected when the state was changing from creosoted timber to galvy I beam posts. Screwed and glued, 3 per face and it's as solid as solid wood, maybe more so. 

I like "Liquid Nails" I have the glue gun, looks like a calking gun but larger. 1 tube of liquid nails and drove the screws with an impact wrench till glue squeezed from the joints. I used a piece of largish angle iron to align the timbers when I slid them together and filled the pilot holes for the lag screws with glue.  It's rock solid.

I've used the same basic technique since wood shop in jr. High though we used Elmer's on most laminations or "Weldwood" for specials or water contact bonds. 

My 50lb. Little Giant has it's rock and roll self bolted to a wooden base made in this manner from 6" x 12" timbers bolted through the 12" with all thread and liquid nails. Little Giants tend rock side to side energetically, it's a characteristic of the machine and a darned good reason to bolt them to the floor. Mine is pinned in place but not attached to the floor, just the wood base. I raised my LG to put it at a more comfortable position to use. 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Hey, so I just acquired a 4x4x7 block of 4130 to used as an improvised anvil. My question is, should I just use it as is or should I try and heat treat it?  I'm pretty sure its soft but I don't have a proper way to test it besides scratching it with tools. 

I've done heat treats on smaller items but never anything this large and its kind of daunting. Thanks in advance!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No need to heat treat 4140. Stand it on end yes? A 4" x 4" face makes a nice anvil and the 7" directly blow the hammer blow is more effective for moving metal. Radius at least two of the edge to different radii. This will allow you to set shoulders without causing cold shuts with sharp inside corners. 

If you really need a sharp edge you can just flip it over if you build a stand you can wedge it into tightly. 

It'll make a fine anvil, I'd put it to work.

Frosty The Lucky. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok I found the right thread for this.

Im super new to the craft, so any thoughts or input is appreciated. Here is a 10" round off cut I picked up from a guy clearing out his machine shop. Weighs between 80 and 100 lbs is my guess. Any thoughts on modifications I could do to make this even more useful for smithing? Definitely grind the edge softer. Maybe cut/grind a step??

20200518_144104.jpg

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.

Guest
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...