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Aspects of an "ideal" anvil stand


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I'm just getting into blacksmithing, but I've been in machining and fabrication for 30 some years. Which means I know almost nothing, but you can't convince me I don't know it all... So my first question is about anvil stands. It seems 95% of anvils are mounted to either tree trunks or fabricated tripods. The wood mounts seem as though they could add mass, but wood is naturally spongey (compared to metal) so it seems to me that these mounts would absorb some energy from each hammer blow. That's bad, right?

The metal ones are usually pretty spindley at the legs, so I can't help but think the mount is adding a spring constant of its own to the assembly, and they don't add much mass. Double bad?

Now, what is the best primary attribute of a mount? Do I *want* it to absorb some energy, or would it be better if it were 'perfectly' rigid? 

Would a theoretically perfect mount be a solid steel tree stump, lagged into the concrete floor? It seems to my thinking that that would be:

1. completely rigid

2. totally stable

3. add hundreds of pounds of mass

4. wouldn't move around *at all* Is this right, or am I thinking about this all wrong?

Is there benefit to the compressibility of softer mounting materials?

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This subject has been debated endlessly. Here are my thoughts.

First, there is no such thing as "the perfect anvil stand". All stands have plusses and minuses.

Second, the job of the anvil stand is to hold the anvil in the proper position so that it can withstand the force of hammer blows and other operations. All other considerations are secondary.

Third, while one can make theoretical arguments for or against any particular style of stand or method of construction, the measurable differences between properly constructed stands are going to be insignificant, regardless of material.

Fourth, anything that keeps the anvil from moving will ensure that more of the hammer blows' energy goes into the workpiece. Whether this is accomplished through anvil mass, stand mass, or rigid anchoring of the stand to the shop floor is immaterial.

Fifth, in addition the above, mounting methods that dampen the anvil's ring reduce of workplace stress, increase the efficiency of the smith's work, and make for more happy neighbors.

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Welcome from the Ozark mountains.  JHCC pretty much covered it. The only thing I can think of is, in a lot of shops the anvil must be movable and in some cases the height of the anvil must be adjustable. Another thing to take in account is affordable. In my case tree stumps work very well and they are abundant and free. TWISTEDWILLOW made about the best anvil stand I have used Steel & sand. Took a while to find the thread so here it is.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/68948-stands-stands-stands/page/4/#comment-767355

 

Edited by Irondragon ForgeClay Works
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OK, fair points, so let me expand a little in hopes of making more sense of my original post...

A lot of stand designs are compromises... compromises for portability, compromises of material availability, compromises for 'what can be put in my garage,' and so on. I get that, we all have to live in the real world.

But here's the thing... I own a machine shop, it has only industrial neighbors some of whom make far more noise than a hammer and anvil could ever make, I have free access to tons of steel drops, another business in my complex is a landscaper, so I have free tree stumps for the asking, I don't have to fit anything in my garage, and I can move heavy items either with the crane or the forklift. I will likely be the only person to ever use this anvil, and anchoring to the floor is no problem at all, I wouldn't even have to rent a Hilti gun or buy any anchors, they're all here already left over from previous jobs etc.

So with all those constraints lifted, what are the characteristics of an 'ideal' anvil stand from the viewpoint of efficient energy transfer from hammer to workpiece?

 

Whatever I make this stand out of, it will be essentially free, or the cost of my free time.

 

I've been thinking about fabricating something out of some 12" dia x 1/2 wall pipe and some 1" and 1-1/2'" plates for top and bottom. (some people talk about filling cavities with sand, and that's a possibility, but I'd like to know the actual purpose before I went down that road), but then it occurred to me, what if there are advantages to using wood, what if that dampening is desirable and rigidity *isn't*?

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I wouldn’t want my stand fixed to the floor. I move it around all the time to suit the work I’m doing. (I find it much easier to reposition the anvil than to take a few extra steps every heat.)

I also have two anvils setup in separate work stations. One is on a wood stump, the other a steel stand. I find little difference between the two. Both have issues that would be easily addressed if they were big enough to worry about. (Wood stand walks on me a bit. The bottom need flattened out or three pads carved. The steel stand is a bit loud, but I need to tighten the anvil down.)

Honestly, anvils and stands often come down to personal preference, unless there are obvious flaws… 

Keep it fun,

David

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In short, the only advantage of a wooden stand is that you can pound staples into it to hold your hammers and hardy tools. However, you can always weld loops to a metal stand, so there's that.

The big advantage of a massive stand is how it resists any forces that aren't straight down. Any stand that's sufficiently rigid will resist vertical blows, but heavy work on the horn or the side has a tendency to twist or walk the anvil out of position. The more the mass of the base, the less this is a problem.

10 minutes ago, Goods said:

The steel stand is a bit loud, but I need to tighten the anvil down.

Don't forget to add some silicone or rubber. I just added a couple of strips of bicycle innertube under the EBUA, and it went from BING to thunk.

59 minutes ago, Scott NC said:

 I wonder how a cylinder of solid lead encased in a piece of steel 1/2" wall pipe, say the size and shape of a traditional tree stump would stand up. 

That's basically how the head of my treadle hammer is made. It's about 14" of 4" square pipe with 1/4" walls and a piece of 3/4" plate welded to each end, surrounding a lead core made from blocks of lead (rescued from some ankle weights) secured with a lot of lead scrap (foil from old-school dental X-ray films and scrap type from the college's letterpress studio) melted around them. Standing up just fine so far!

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A  large diameter wooden round made a nice anvil stand until it was time to move or reposition the anvil for large or different work.  Then there were the bugs that decided to make the wood home.

The metal anvil stand cured the bug problem, allowed the anvil to be turned or repositioned when needed, and you can now get a half to full step closer to the anvil.  In fact you can put your feet under the anvil if you want.  A piece of plate steel plate welded to the end of the metal legs has a hole in it so a spike can be driven through the plate to hold the anvil from turning.

I purchased the whole anvil not just the face, so many times you will find the anvil turned horn up, heel up, or laid over on the side.  This gives a cone (horn) and a narrow metal surface (heel) and on the side gives access the different curves which act as a swage block.  

Then there is the expanded metal shelf under the anvil for the most used hardie tools.

If you want to add a couple of goesintas, you can add a swing-away shelf, tool pan, or an anvil level extension to rest the longer pieces of metal on.

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Good Morning Justa,

In actual fact, there is no perfect Anvil Stand. If you use a stump, your toes can't get under the Anvil for when you are doing dainty work. If you make a steel 3 legged stand. It won't wobble and you can get your toes under. If you use tubing or pipe, they can ring like a bell unless you put some sand inside the pipe/tube. You can make a garbage can filled with sand, with a piece of plywood on top of the sand to mount your Anvil to. Add or subtract sand to adjust the height and it won't ring. The guys are suggesting a thin rubber under the Anvil, this helps take the resonating away. You could make an Anvil stand with a section of I-beam on end, still add a shim of rubber. Water is not compressible, fill your pipe with water instead of sand. There is no incorrect way, your mind is the limiting factor.

Enjoy the Journey, there is no destination or time limit. Speed is not advised (LOL).

Neil

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With a large anvil it's basic inertia overwhelms the little thunks a typical hammer gives to it.  A small anvil definitely has more "bouncing around" issues where a stand designed to hold it firmly helps.  BoAPW:  Start at bedrock and work your way up with a monolithic structure.

I was amused to find my 469# Fisher anvil creeping under heavy sledging on it's wooden stand.  OTOH all I needed was a few U fence staples to nail around it's base and so "corral" it in place. It was heavy enough that it couldn't jump over the staple even if it was protruding only a quarter of an inch from the "stump".

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I don't know why people keep saying a steel stand with pipe legs rings. I have two bare anvil to bare steel stand that damp dangerously loud anvils to ear plug only levels. A number of the guys locally have adopted versions, some from angle or channel iron and they all quiet the anvils down. No sand in any I know of. 

Just saying needing sand in a steel stand to quiet the anvil is an urban myth.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 10/28/2022 at 9:21 PM, swedefiddle said:

If you use tubing or pipe, they can ring like a bell unless you put some sand inside the pipe/tube.

On 10/29/2022 at 1:38 PM, Frosty said:

I don't know why people keep saying a steel stand with pipe legs rings.

A pipe or tube only rings loudly if one end is open, allowing the edge to vibrate and the inside reverberations to travel outwards. Think of the difference between an empty O2 cylinder and one with the end cut off. The first will ring if you tap it, but only for a short duration. The second will ring like a bell, with the sound taking a very long time to decay. Welding a piece of plate over the end of the tube to act as a foot effectively dampens the ring, and adding sand really only increases the weight (which is still a plus, for the reasons discussed above).

On 10/28/2022 at 11:15 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I was amused to find my 469# Fisher anvil creeping under heavy sledging on it's wooden stand.

My 148 lb Mousehole (aka The Undisputed King of Anvils) has a tendency to walk across the floor when I'm using the attached treadle hammer, even though the metal stand  is about 150 lbs and the treadle hammer adds about the same weight. I realized a while back that a big part of the problem was that the return (upward) stroke of the hammer was actually making the whole assembly jump a little bit when the arm reached the limit of its range of motion. Adding a rubber tire to the back of the frame to act as a shock absorber made things a lot better. 

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At my last job(shipyard) they took a big leftover pipe. Welded the bottom end closed, filled it with floordust (i think some of it contained sand and concrete dust, rest is grinddust, slag, ...), Put a cap on it and put the anvil on that. 

The mistake they made was to weld the anvil to the cap. 

It is heavy and more or less silent. The welding to the cap is what is making the noice. They had better put rubber underneed the anvil and used some angle-iron as clamps.

Unfortunatly, the owner likes the anvil, even it is never used and is burried in a corner and used as a support for a "temporary" table (you know the kind, it is like that for now 5 years)

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there is nothing more permanent than a temporary fix

i find that a stump of 20in with a 100# anvil will still wiggle around and i must move it back after a few heats that I really start to move the metal, if im doing light work there is no major problem otherwise

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If you have concrete floors you can wipe the bottom of your anvil block, stand or other equipment that walks with silicone calk, let it dry and it'll stay where you put it until the silicone finally gives up. You want to wipe it almost completely off, thick tends to be broken down under impacts. It's a trick I learned from the State of Ak. ferry crews it's how they keep dishes on the table and similar.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Both of my anvils are mounted on steel tripods 130 lb Mousehole on a 1 1/2 inch base with 2 inch pipe legs, 230 lb Soderfors on a 1 inch base with 2 inch square tube legs, neither have the legs capped off on the bottom, both are on a concrete floor. The Soderfors has silicone under the anvil the Mousehole is directly on the base, both are held in place with a 1 inch flat bar against the waist and both are very quiet and do not move while working with them

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Ok, so reading through all your posts and suggestions, I made up a quick design.

These are all materials I have laying around, so that had an influence on what I came up with.

SO this is all steel, except some 4x4s at the bottom (which give me a place to put my toes when I come in close, and also give me some height adjustment later on if I get a different anvil.

The base plate is 1" thick, 14x14" The column is a 3/8 wall, 12" dia pipe and the top is 1.5 thick, 13" around.

Holes in the base go through the wood to anchor to the floor. Holes on either side of the anvil are for securing it in place, the bracket is not shown.

Estimated weight (excluding the wood) is 375lbs with 130 being the anvil itself.

And suggestions? 

I think I'll put a hatch in the bottom so I can add sand inside the pipe should it need it - but how would I know if it does or not?

FAO65gXW_t.jpg

 

Thanks guys!

fab base far side.JPG

fab base.JPG

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Looks like a very usable design to me.  However, what is the block/box at the base for?  If the anvil and base move or wiggle in use then you need to add mass/weight to keep the energy of you hammering moving hot metal rather than moving the anvil about.  I think you will find this heavy enough for general use without adding additional weight.

Make sure that you have the height that is most comfortable for you.  While it is possible to add height, e.g. adding more wood to the base it is tougher to make things shorter.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Thanks for your insight, George!

Height is set to the height of my knuckles with my arm at my side, someone told me that was the rule of thumb for working surface height.

The block on the far side is for upsetting longer parts. Its a chunk of 4 x 5 x 5" 1018 that I have left over from a previous job. it's just collecting dust, and seemed like a useful addition.

I was planning to anchor the whole thing to the concrete floor to keep it in place. Is that a bad idea? (after I use it for a week or two and make adjustments)

Should the need arise in the future, I can lower the anvil by putting smaller pieces of wood underneath... or eliminating them all together, of course.

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That's a beast of an anvil stand! Knuckle height is a legacy from the days when blacksmiths worked in teams with strikers. Knuckle height is better for a striker swinging a sledge or if you use top tools frequently. Wrist height is usually more comfortable for a one man operation as you're striking at full extension without hyper extending your elbow , even a little bit. 

Your hammer will strike parallel face to face with the anvil more naturally. Make sense?

The effectiveness of a stand is in it's rigidity, not weight. The better it resists movement the more effectively it moves metal. Mass has it's effect of course but an  uncompressible connection to the planet through the stand is a bigger factor. End grain wood is much less compressible than cross grain but I don't know if you want to go through the hassle of cutting a bunch of short lengths of 4x4 to use them on end. Of course if you need to lift it 2" its a maybe.

I'd screw and glue them together to make a solid block if you do decide to use the wood on end.

Do you have enough plate to weld your upsetting block on it rather than putting it on wood? Heck extend the base plate a little and use it. I have a modest piece of 2" plate I can lay on the floor near the forge if I need to upset long stock. For moderately long stock, too long to upset on the face I do it horizontally in the step or against the side of the anvil. I prefer doing it in the step though the horn helps keep it straight. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I never thought abut the end grain vs. side grain, thanks for bringing that up.

You  can't see in the picture too well, but there are two 1/2" thick ribs attaching the upsetting block to the pipe and the base - I'm definitely not relying just on the wood to keep them together. Thanks Frosty

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You're welcome, it's what we do here. :)

Yes the ribs are clearly visible in the first rendering and with the pipe welded to the foot there won't be any flexion to suck energy out of strikes. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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the best height for an anvil stand is when your forearm is parallel to the ground and your daily driver hammer face is parallel to the ground/anvil face. Take your body stance into consideration as well when figuring the height of your forearm above grade. Subtract the height of your anvil and there you are. 

For me a wooden stump cut to slightly bigger size of my anvil base~ 1-1/2" or so larger on each side. Anvil notched into the endgrain of the stump with a couple inches of fine sand in this notch. This makes it easy to level and deadens the sound. The tighter the notch the better. If done, you will need no other forms of attachment to hold your anvil securely with no movement to the stump, and if needed, it can be easily and quickly removed. Make sure to figure in the deapth of this notch when figuring out where you want the top of the stump to be.  For me, you can't beat having the stump buried 3' below grade. The stump is pyramidal from grade to the bottom of the stump. Dirt tamped and watered as you set it. 

I have an upsetting block as well. Any heavy piece of steel will work. The more mass the better. The top edge is set to grade so it is out of the way when not in use. 

 

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