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I Forge Iron

Proper hammering

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Ok guys,

I know there's no hard and fast rule to this. Overwhelming majority of smiths have the horn on their anvils to the same side of them as their tong hand. A few prefer to have it the other way but majority is on tong hand side.

In my observation, knifemakers for some reason are more likely than anybody else to have their anvils turned around the other way. Anybody know why?

Hey knifemakers, why do so many of you guys do that????


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For me it has to do with natural body motion.. If you look at your work area as a turret with you in the middle.. Ideally it's one step to the anvil or vise from the forge usually with a turn. When you turn from the center of the anvil to the right the horn will naturally line up with the left hand on an arch without having to bend over like having the horn to the left..  I found that with older style anvils without truncated horns it was more on the money.. Now with a Truncated cone horn my left hand doesn't align as well but it still works well.. Other reason why is when using the horn for drawing out .. You are less likely to smash your hand into the face.. 

I'll draw a picture tomorrow if I remember.. 

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I'm a self taught right handed blacksmith and I have mind on my hammer hand side. 2 reasons for me:

1) it faces away from my fire so I don't accidentally bash my leg on the tip of the bick. That really hurts.

2) If you're doing something particuarly fine, eg adjusting the centre of a very tight scroll on the very tip of the bick, you can bend your knees to get your face right down and up close to really see what you're doing. If the bick is on your tong side you have to hammer across yourself and you have to lean over to see what you're doing, which to me feels really awkward.

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This is discussed frequently, and it always causes me to think about my own habits.

And I can honestly say, ... that I have no preference.

My "3-point stump" type anvil stand, is easily rotated for the best position for every job.

I do roughly equal amounts of work in the Hardie hole, ... and at the Horn, ... and not-so-much forming "over the edge".




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I think it comes down to a number of factors, personel preference, work being carried out, space permitting etc. At home I have two anvils both rectangular without horns and a very confined space to work in, ergo I have one anvil without a horn to the left and the other without the horn to the right :D

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I was initially taught horn to hammer hand, and for most scrolling for me that is easier. However I did a day learning arrow smithing, with a horn to tongs hand smith and there were some advantages to using the horn that way for some of the work.

 The way I forge blade bevels works with the metal right up to the edge of the anvil face next to the horn or cutting plate, that way the hammer can be hung at an angle over the edge of the anvil face  to get the very edge of the blade thin, this only works with horn to hammer hand.....if you forge in this specific way...

Do what you like, no rules.


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