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Making an anvil

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I’m a young blacksmith at the age of 17 and I don’t have enough money to buy myself a nice old style anvil. Heck I can’t really afford any anvil as a matter of fact... I’ve been using a railroad anvil that my uncle was given since I started and I’m definitely tired of it. It’s rounded face makes things quite difficult and I can’t even get a hardy hole or anything because I don’t have the tools available(all damaged and tools in need of repair). But I had a gentleman come to my house that lives more than 100 miles away to make me a very generous trade of two 5 gallon bucket sized steel cans and enough ceramic fiber insulation to line both cans to make myself a gas forge rather than coal. But this gentleman gave me the idea of making some types of hammers by making a shell and filling it with lead then sealing them. That idea later made me wonder if I would be able to make a nice anvil shell and fill that with lead. I’m not sure if it would work as an anvil since it’s filled with lead and I don’t know how rebound would be effected or what not so if you guys can give me advice on what to do and if it would be a good idea or bad idea to do the lead filled idea or not. Any help and free knowledge would be greatly appreciated

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Any heavy piece of steel will work as an anvil. I use a 29 1/2in. piece of RR track as an anvil and it works pretty well. Have you tried standing your piece of track vertically?  More steel under your hammer is better.

I think the only thing I had to pay for in building my charcoal forge and RR track anvil was the matress pump I use for an air supply. If you don't have money you have to be resourceful and creative.  A forge can be made from a box a pipe some dirt and an old hair dryer. Any relatively heavy piece of steel can be an anvil. This is what my "smithy" looks like. It's mostly things that were being thrown out or was free. Read through the jabod threads and the link Glenn posted and you'll get a better idea of how little it really takes to Blacksmith. Good luck be safe and remember it's supposed to be fun. Almost forgot to answer your question about the hammer and anvil filled with lead. No it won't work. It would be a dead blow hammer and dead anvil. It wouldn't have any real rebound. 



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I'm a beginner too (probably a lot more so than you).  I presently get by with a garden fire pit filled with soil, a piece of steel tube I had lying around that I've welded some legs onto and a mattress air pump.  Only for outside use, of course, but I can keep a coal fire about the size of a sideplate hot enough to burn steel.  The only big advantage I can see in a propane forge is that it doesn't take a quarter hour to get up to temperature.

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Kyle when you say "old style anvil" do you mean a london pattern anvil that is a pretty recent design and localized to a fairly small subset of the world or do you mean and anvil like this one below (on it's side to show the spike) that has been a design in use for 10 times LONGER than the London pattern anvil has and in pretty much everyplace that worked iron and steel hot? 

Before you disregard an improvised anvil; go find the National Geographic video from "Living Treasures of Japan" and watch the section about a Master swordsmith forging a katana and look carefully at his anvil!  (It can be found on youtube).


Generally what we find is that folks are making terrible assumptions about what they need. (There is another video about a professional kukri maker in Nepal? who uses a sledge hammer head as his anvil.)

While the London Pattern anvil is a useful design---sort of like the "swiss army knife" of anvils.  It's not needed and not even the best design for specific cases!

Take a look at this one:


What couldn't you forge on this that you would need a  Recent Style London Pattern anvil?   (We can show you how to do it without one!)

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Welcome to IFI Kyle. It would help us answer some questions if we knew where in the world you are located. I always suggest reading this to get the best out of the forum. READ THIS FIRST

Like pnut said a lead filled anvil will not work any better than a large piece of limestone. You could forge on it but it will test you to the limit. Read up on the TPAAAT method of finding an anvil.



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 Really! The guy is 17!

 The read this first clarification is just rude to newcomers.  A simple behind the scenes,  p.m. from a moderator would hold its weight in gold.  Berating publicly, is nothing new, bullies do it every day!  

 Do we really need to know where some 17-year-old lives?  Get your xxx out of the clouds buddy,! You almost make me sick to be a member here!  Guys like you, make guys like me wanna leave!

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The READ THIS FIRST was a written as a guide to getting familiar with the site quickly so the viewer could use it to their best advantage.  Each item was added usually following a discussion on the forum. 

Location in the world is important so they can get specific information to their area.  

Respect is important as the new guy is coming into an existing group asking questions.  Respecting the member taking time to respond to their question and providing an answer is a part of any group. 

Research speaks for itself as there are currently 51,785 questions with 632,924 answers on the site.  Most questions have been ask and discussed before. 

For those taking the time and reading the READ THIS FIRST, it smooths the road to learning.  

Berating publicly and bullying ARE NOT allowed on the site. If you see this happening, please report it.


If you would like to suggest better content, please send it to me PM and I will certainly consider it.

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7 hours ago, Matt Matt said:

 Really! The guy is 17!   The read this first clarification is just rude to newcomers.  A simple behind the scenes,  p.m. from a moderator would hold its weight in gold.

I've been a forum member with some group or another for hobbies and trade associations since the early 00s and I'm not surprised at at your reaction, but I think you're unfairly mischaracterizing things.  Maybe you should rethink how you're coming off in here and try to understand that this is a space with unpaid moderators who have to wade through the same posts and requests for the same things for every person who decides they want to make something out of some steel...can you imagine how redundant that would get?  

So, boilerplate answers to brand new people asking a question that's been asked 100 times before is charitable.  New folks are lucky they even get that response for a free forum that I assume pays nothing to the mods and has to do all the behind the scenes stuff out of goodwill.

I'm assuming someone has reached out to you privately to read you the riot act as well, but I think what you've insinuated in your comments is odd, mean, and unfair. 

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As far as location goes, no one is asking a minor for their address. I have my location listed as Northern Kentucky in my profile. As an example of why your general location makes a difference in the Northern Kentucky/ greater Cincinnati area used anvils sometimes sell for as low as under three dollars a pound while in New Mexico you would be harder pressed to find one for under five dollars a pound. So someone posts I just bought this 150lb. Vulcan anvil for $600 dollars did I get a good deal?  Well that's going to depend on where you are. In New Mexico yes in Cincinnati no.  


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MattMatt let me explain the concept of World Wide Web in simple terms. We do not actually care where the 17 yr old lives,  but IFI services over 150 countries in this world, so having just a general location will make getting him help easier, because what is common in rural Ohio is not common in Bejing China.

Also watch your potty mouth, we have many younger than 17 here, and if you had read the Read this first thread you would not be so upset at it being suggested

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Well, if he was near me he could stop by my shop and I could loan him an improvised anvil for free and introduce him to the other local smiths.  If he is in South Africa, this is not a possibility for me; but may be a possibility for one of the smiths in South Africa.  I've already spent time this week trying to get folks who ran across me here in touch with folks 200 miles closer to them---and we're both in the same country/same state!

A funny thing about the World Wide Web is that it is world wide!  Not to mention that connectivity can play tricks as well---I spent one summer in Germany; but my postings still were done through my Ohio State account; same thing when I was in Indonesia for a month.

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17 hours ago, Matt Matt said:

You almost make me sick to be a member here!  Guys like you, make guys like me wanna leave!

I'm sorry you feel that way. Did it upset you when I suggested the same to you, when you joined and posted without showing a general location in your profile? Why do you consider that berating?

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 In any shape way or form, are you affiliated with this forum? Out your last hundred posts, what is your percentage of asking this question?  Is this a position, the forum administration has dedicated to you?  Otherwise, I think you’re hackling newcomers.

 It has been clearly stated in the rules that location is “not” mandatory. If it was mandatory, it would be part of the V bulletin sign up registration criteria!  Maybe the admin can collaborate if this is a direct violation!  If it is not, then there shouldn’t be any pressure therefore, or there after!  

 I personally have no problem with geological location. But I’m not 17. Demanding this of a 17-year-old gets a little weird!  I run a website similar to this, that I have access to everybody’s IP addresses.  The internet not that stupid.  If the admin of this website really wanted to know my IP address, they have it at their fingertips. 

Do you have admin privileges? Yes or no?

 Are you representing this forum in any shape way or form? Yes or no? 

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 I’ll let the mods figure if it is a mandatory requirement, that location is critical and and chastising this, if not,  is required,  and considered acceptable.

 I see the pros and cons for both sides, but pushing a 17-year-old for his location is just absolutely outrageous, if this is your purpose!

 The admin has obviously permitted minors to participate.  The admin is obviously aware of this situation.  But separate yourself when somebody says they’re 17!

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Every member of the site is allowed and encouraged to post to the forum.  

The members location is not demanded but is suggested as a general geographic location. This allows us to provide information, suggest blacksmithing groups or organizations and events, etc, in THEIR area.   

Members of the site represent over 150 countries of the world and include all demographics.  We have had members as young as 6 years old on the site. As members they are able to post, ask questions, and participate in discussions, just like any other member.  There is one set of rules that apply to everyone.  

To clear up your concerns, I am the site administrator. Only the administrators set the rules for the site. The moderators are then instructed to apply those rules in the absence of an administrator.  Each moderated event is reported back to the administrators for review.  After the review, the admins have the final decisions.  

If you, or any other member, have suggestions on how to improve the site, please contact me directly. 

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Many blacksmithing questions have an inherent location component and many new people forget to address it; for example "Where do I get coal?" ----- the helpful answer changes greatly depending on if you are in Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Israel---all places that have participated here recently.

Or how about "are there any smiths near me that can teach me to forge weld?"  If you are on Norfolk Island; telling you to stop by my smithy in Central New Mexico, USA isn't much help!

So the suggestion to put a general location, not a specific one, makes it easier for everybody to know when their specific answer might be applicable; or a more general one might help. It also helps a new person from getting deluged with "where are you at?" posts when they ask for a local blacksmithing organization.

Lastly not all forums are suited to all people; if this one drives you up the wall, you are of course free to start your own forum or choose not to participate. As I recall IFI started as Glenn was not happy with how another blacksmithing forum ran.   Over the decades I have been involved with a number of such fora: rec.crafts.metalworking, Keenjunk AKA the blacksmiths virtual junkyard, was a moderator on a neo tribal blacksmithing forum, anvilfire and of course iforgeiron.  I have NO special status on IFI save for what respect/tolerance is given me by other members; yet I am part of the gestalt that is this site and care for it's smooth running and bringing in of new people. However; I am not hurt if folks decide to go elsewhere and in fact sometimes direct folks to other forums that may suit their needs better---pointing folks interested in foundry work at alloyavenue for example.

So, Matt, are you going to try to fit in, work with the admins to make changes you think are needed; or take you hammer and go elsewhere? 

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Kyle, I hope all of this has not chased you away. Get us some pictures of you current setup. We would love to help! If you in my area, I could help in person or hook you up with others who are much more knowledgeable than myself.


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59 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

As I recall IFI started as Glenn was not happy with how another blacksmithing forum ran. 

Thomas you are thinking of a completely different website, NOT IForgeIron.

IForgeIron was started as I collected information from the internet and folks wanted a copy printed and sent to them for reference. Copies of the information and postage became an issue and the web site was established so the information was more readily available. 

IForgeIron has supported other websites, and still does. IFI was the original photobucket and gallery for one website. The images had only a 24 hour lifespan and were then deleted. 

Another web site had server issues. A new section was set up on IFI with a different format to serve and support those folks. Three weeks later their server come back on line. Four hours later IFI took down the section and posted a redirect link to the new server.

IForgeIron currently has direct links to over 50 Blacksmithing groups and organizations in the United State and blacksmithing links to 5 other countries. More can be, and are, added upon request.  Location is important when we reference to information and events in YOUR location.

IForgeIron has always supported the blacksmithing community.  It is a G rated family forum and a comfortable place to visit in order to learn about blacksmithing and metal working.  


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Kyle, building a gasser will add a $150 or more to your starting expenses. While for $50 or less (depends on your abilities as a scrounge) you can get started with a solid fuel forge. 

The only reason we want to know where you live on your profile (give us an idea with in an hours drive or so) is because we have folks from 150 countries here. If you live in Ferndale Australia I am not going to recommend you swing buy Iron Dwarf’s shop in Wales UK. An hour with an experienced Smith will save you hours on your own (not that you can’t do it, many off us have) and he or she knows the lay of the land as fate as were to find fuel, tools and materials. 

I my self am all about low budget smithing, and with a $100 and a trip to town can have a forge, anvil, starting tools and stock. Given a week or two of scrounging I can get that down to $20 or less.  Experience and knowledge are tools you will always have and we are willing to lend you our experience and share our knowledge.

We ask three things in return, do your homework (read at least the stickies in the areas your interested in so you come from a complete know nothing to a level of ignorance so you can ask good questions.) the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask, but some of us have answered the same question thousands of times. 

Remember the manners your mother taught you, even old crotchety old men like me forget and will be reminded of that one. Makes the site run smother and makes old colts like me just that much more willing to invest time in answering questions.

Lastly, pass on what you learn. Even I can learn something new from you. Be it a new and inventive mistake, a better way  to pass on my experience or just onsite from a fresh set of eyes.

we are all guests her on Glenn's front porch, he provides us a place to learn, visit and have fun. IFI is an interactive pear reviewed document, bad advice and information won’t stand long and we have people who are real experts who contribute. 

We do have our squabbles, it’s hard not to with so many members from all over the world but Glenn and crew do a good job riding herd on the rable.

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