When was the last time you used an anvil? Perhaps for one of your DIY paracord projects? Or maybe when you were learning how to make survival gear?
Most people think there aren’t any anvil uses that are practical in modern society. We beg to differ.
In this guide, you’re going to learn all sorts of solid (no pun intended) information on anvils.
We talk about the uses of an anvil in today’s world. You’ll see the different parts of the anvil. We also talk about how it’s made and how much they weigh.
Age of the Anvil
If you’re wondering what is an anvil exactly. AN anvil is basically a platform for shaping metal primarily used by blacksmiths and other metalsmiths. Any kind of metal worker or metal shaper will be using an anvil.
The first anvil was born somewhere around 6,000 B.C. It was primarily used by blacksmiths and other metalworkers. The first ones were made of mostly iron.
Even though anvils are simple-looking objects, there are still different kinds, shapes, and sizes that are used for different purposes and different professions. There are 5 basic different types of anvils.
We’ll go through each one so you know enough about what their purpose was. I was able to find images of all the kinds at anvilfire.
These weigh normally between 75-500 lbs. They can weigh even more up to over 1,000 lbs if it’s being used to craft massive blocks of metal for aircraft and other objects in that kind of size.
The forging anvils are the ones that pop in your head when you think of an anvil.
These are the larger workhorses that a blacksmith will be hammering away at. They’re known as the shop anvil.
Most of its weight and mass are going to be located under the face section. It’s built for withstanding those massive and powerful fists of steel whacks day in and day out.
It might not look much different from standard forge anvils, but the Farriers is a highly specialized and technical tool.
The bulk of the weight is distributed throughout the horn. The rest of its weight is mostly used in the back just so it could balance the weight between its horn so it doesn’t tip over.
These are used for more precise and technical metal crafting work. They aren’t built for general blacksmithing forgery.
Stake anvils are in short supply in today’s world. Using them for daily work has grown out of style.
You can still find smaller ones from a shortlist of suppliers if you actually wanted to get one.
They come in many different shapes and sizes.
Bench anvils are in general, smaller than most other kinds. They weigh anywhere from 10 to 50 lbs on average.
The criteria for an anvil being classified as a bench anvil is as long as it’s being used on a bench for supporting the work being hammered on, its a bench.
They are traditionally European and English. Locksmiths used them frequently.
Even smaller than the bench anvil, the jeweler’s anvil fits right in the palm of your hand.
Despite its size compared to other types, it does just a good of a job as the others do.
Watchmakers and jewel crafters use anvils that are normally no heavier than 2.5 lbs.
The anatomy of an anvil is much more than meets the eye.
The anvil has different parts to it as you can see, flat parts and round.
Generally, anvils have the following parts:
- Face: Where the bulk of the work is done for flattening metal.
- Hardie Hole:
- Rounded Edge:
The flat parts are used when you want to shape the metal to be flat, which is primarily what the face portion is for. The round parts are used for when you want the section of metal you’re working on to be round. This is how horseshoes are made.
In addition to the flat and round parts, there are also holes in the anvil. These holes are actually slots for different attachments. Think of them like an outlet where you would plug a tool into them for them to work.
Attachments are used for functions other than making the metal flat or round. They can cut metal and they can stamp.
Blacksmiths, although a very old profession, is still alive and kicking. Keep reading The Survival Journal and you will hear us saying how valuable of a skill blacksmithing is to have. It’s true.
For more information on how to start blacksmithing, see our guide on the best blacksmithing tools for beginners.
After seeing a big chunk of solid steel on the ground, one of the first questions that pop into your head is, how much does an anvil weigh?
Anvils come in many different sizes. The average anvil that a blacksmith uses weighs between 75-500 lbs. These are what are called “shop anvils”.
One of the key qualities you want an anvil to have is the weight. The heavier and the more dense the anvil, the better job it will do for the blacksmith.
Of course, the heavier and larger the anvil, the more expensive it becomes. However, there are anvils used by jewelers that are much smaller and lighter than weigh between 10-50 lbs on average.
There are watchmaker’s anvils that can be as small as 2.5 lbs.
There is a specific ratio that you want to have when it comes to the weight of the anvil being used and what you’re using the anvil to make.
The size of the anvil should be proportional to the work and the hammer used to perform that work. For forging an average hand hammer to anvil ratio of about 50:1 is normal.
For Example, a heavy 4 pound (1800g) hammer and a 200 pound (90kg) anvil are a good match.
To be clear about the size of a “shop anvil”, in researching for this article, I read on the blacksmithing forum iforgeiron something I liked. If it’s too heavy for you to pick up without struggling, it’s a shop anvil. 200 lbs seems to be the agreed-upon weight for a standard anvil.
The core function of the anvil is to act as a platform that’s supposed to throw the hammer back at the blacksmith. In order for the anvil to do a good job of that is to be heavy and solid. So they must be made from what seems like indestructible material.
Anvils are typically made of steel. Good ole fashion slab of steel.
There are different levels of that steel though, of course. After choosing one of the five types of anvils, the next choice is for the quality of material for that anvil.
If you were shopping for an anvil today, you would have two choices here. Forged or cast.
Forged anvils are the Cadillacs. They are more durable, larger, and are known as the best anvils. With that, also comes the higher ticket price over the cast anvil.
People in real life, in today’s world, use anvils for a variety of functions. They are used for making blades and knives. They are used to make certain protection gear like guards. Horse owners also use anvils for fitting their horses and mules shoes.
The general public doesn’t believe anvils are still in use today in the “real” world, but they are used every day indeed. Not just one profession either.
Professions that work with anvils include:
- Jewel crafters
All of these professions that build things. An anvil is a builder tool.
Some of the items that are made include:
- Types of Home Hardware
- Bottle Openers
Back to referencing today’s world, blacksmiths use anvils to shape hot metal. Just like when it was first invented.
Fun fact: The anvil hasn’t been drastically innovated since the dawn of it’s invented birth date. It’s one of the only inventions in history that has remained unchanged. The anatomy of the anvil has been refined over centuries, but not completely changed.
If that doesn’t say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, nothing does.
It provides a clean functional surface for the blacksmith to work on. Like the desk of a writer or the workbench of a woodworker.
The anvil is very much the backbone of the blacksmith. Over 90% of their work is with their anvil.
How It’s Made
It’s hard to imagine how an anvil is made. How would you ever be able to make something like that, with no moving parts or even pieces that look separable? It’s all one solid piece.
Fair question. The process is definitely mysterious.
Like most things, there is more than one way to build something. Anvils are no different. However, they are all made through the general processes of forging.
Most shop classified anvils are made through forging processes. There are a couple of different kinds of forging, we’ll go through them below.
Closed-die forging is the process some kinds of anvils are made by. This is more of a modern-day forging process.
The anvils are forged in a closed die.
The machinery that performs the process is easy to operate in general. The anvil can go from molten level heat to a cold hardened finished shape in less than sixty seconds.
We just covered the closed-die forging process, another method that is used to construct them is called open-die forging.
This process speeds up the production process because of the Bessemer furnace. Through the Bessemer process, a Bessemer furnace was able to melt steel and thus was able to pour that molten steel into an ingot mold, into the shape of an anvil.
It’s common for die-forged anvils to undergo some post-forging treatment consisting of heating methods such as flame hardening, to improve their density and hardness.
Forge Welding Wrought Iron and Steel
Another way anvils are made is through forge welding wrought iron and steel.
Each piece is forged separately and then they are joined together through the process of forge-welding.
The individual parts are:
This is done while the parts are still hot so it’s easier to mold the parts and refine the shape while also testing everything to make sure it’s functional like it should be before letting it cool.
Sand Casting Steel
The final method of making anvils is how the family of anvils called, Nimba anvils. Nimba anvils are made through sand casting steel.
An induction furnace is used that melts steel alloy and then is poured into sand molds.
These anvils are hardened to a Rockwell scale of 50-52C.
After it’s hardened, it’s then literally shaken out of its mold. It’s then finished at the machine shop where the face sections are milled and the pritchel hole is drilled.
Such a simple looking tool without any moving parts, most are surprised by how functional it is.
We hope this article helped you understand more about anvils in general. They are one of the best tools ever invented. The uses for anvils will never go out of style. They will always be useful.