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I Forge Iron

Stone anvils

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I asked this question on another thread, but I figured I'd get a wider range of answers if I made it its own thread.

Back in the day, before there were horned anvils and the like, blacksmiths used whatever flat surface they could find as anvils. Japanese swordsmiths used cubes of steel, or even stone, to hammer out their work. I believe that the best stone anvil to use was granite, but I could be mistaken.

As the local king of scrounge, I called around and found that some of our funeral homes and monument dealers give local folks free pickins at their cast off granite---headstones and monuments that are broken or otherwise unfit for their commission.

My question is, has anyone here actually USED a granite anvil? If so, how did it serve compared to your steel anvil of choice?

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yes but not for a great deal of work.

I used a bit of granite kerbstone (rectangular lump weighing about 30lb). It works fine, but don't try to do much near the edges and you can't bounce the hammer with the same force as on a metal anvil (it chips out). But for general forging its pretty good actually; it doesn't sap the heat as fast as a similar lump of steel.

I think Wayne Goddard uses stone anvils regularly too?

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I do not speak from experience but I would make sure I kept the stone dry and out of the weather. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recall reading that some granites will absorb a small amount of water. Placing a red hot piece of steel could cause a small explosion of steam and launch a shard of granite at a vulnerable spot.

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You won't need to worry about teh metal heating the rock to bursting point, but QC is right about keeping it dry. Mainly coz most rocks are porous and if they saturate and then freeze they can crumble when thawed (especially if you go and smack it with a hammer!) it was one way to break rocks out of the hillside before explosives ;)

Look for the finest grain structure that can, they seem to hold up better. A nice fine basalt is a good bet, but even some granites should be better than others. Mine is fairly coarse (average grain size is about 5mm) and as long as I keep away from the very edge it's ok.

I've seen Sri Lanken smiths using stone anvils for all of their work, even sharpening blades (peening edges). They use a large boulder with a flat section on teh top (like you sliced the top third off a ball), that way the stone supports the edge of the flattened surface; unlike a square block where there is nothing under the edge but air.

Try some bits and see what they are like. We can tell you this and that about tools and stone anvils, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. :)

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Try something fine grained and dense like hornblend if you can find a flat spot on it.

I wouldn't swap a boulder for one of my anvils but they work in a pinch or for making a point to folk who HAVE to have all the RIGHT stuff. A boulder works a LOT better than a log, though a log will do if that's what you have.

Forge is a hole in the ground with a piece of pipe and Coleman Inflateall for air, burning wood. Anvil is a birch log. I'm repairing a straightened leg on a log tong.



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