What Do I Need to Know in Buying and Anvil (and where to buy one)?


May 25, 2005, 02:49 PM
I'm looking for an anvil. I'm not sure what weight I need, but want something large and heavy that I can maybe mount on a large cross-section of a tree. This would be kept in my garage.

Things I would use this as a general shop anvil - from small to large things. Is a 150 lb. anvil too large? (I already have a super small anvil.)

Any wisdom on buying an anvil? Who carries them? What are some good brands? (By the way, what is a "hardie hole"?)

Also - what do I want it made from? Do they come in forged models? Should I stay away from cast? I saw one advertised on eBay called an "Atlas Anvil". It said it was 110 pounds and not cast - made from tool steel. Is this a good one? (I know very little about anvils, so far...)

Thanks for any help.

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May 25, 2005, 03:26 PM
No ideas re sources - but I have had one for years - which was sorta salvaged from the railroad company. It is large and very heavy - takes two to lift!! There is a chunk missing from the bed one end but - it serves my purposes.

IIRC it is cast steel but have a feeling the top (working) section is different material - I really have forgotten all about them. Maybe a web search will yield useful info? Maybe it is cast steel top on cast iron base.

The ''nib'' end is useful for bend forming - the other end has what you may mean by hardie Hole - a sqaure hole to take extra tools. I did a little smithing on mine but most work was beating and forming - simple stuff.

I suggest as a mount - a column of blocks (solid) laid four deep - and on top a piece of carpet covered OSB ... this stops the annoying ''ring'' from being too loud. I can take a pic if you wish - let me know. Am out soon to shoot (<sigh>) .. but will take a pic anyways perhaps when time.

I have taken a pic but will post later ... I had forgotten - blocks for base where - two full blocks lift then two solids on side - you'll see from pic.

May 25, 2005, 03:39 PM
Gotta dash - but here it is - plus a boat load of clutter :rolleyes:


May 25, 2005, 04:31 PM
Harbor Freight has a selection of anvils.

May 25, 2005, 04:38 PM
I love looking stuff up and reading. Here's more than even I wanted to know about anvils, including

"Many cheap anvils have hardie holes too small for standard hardies. In many cases the manufacturer thought the square hole was some kind of decoration, Harbor Freight anvils are a good example of anvils that won't accept standard hardies."



May 25, 2005, 05:05 PM
OK, what's a hardy?

May 25, 2005, 06:27 PM
Grizzly has a selection of anvils, but they seem to be cast iron.


May 25, 2005, 09:02 PM
I am guessing the ''Hardy'' is the name used for ancillary items that fit in the square hole. Really can't remember ever hearing that - or forgot! They usually have a longish spike of square section and fit in the hole - the tops being specific to a task - maybe rounded top for working metal to a dished/radius etc.

The material of an anvil is important - I had not thought of Harbor Freight but - many cheap anvils will show dings just with a hammer's impact - they may suffice but - really good ones will not ''bruise'' at all. That old one of mine, while shoddy and beat up - is solid as they come.

May 25, 2005, 09:42 PM
A Hardie would be something for forming metal,
like a wedge shaped piece for making right angles in metal and other things.
A sharp edged one would be used as a shear when a piece of metal was placed over it and struck with a hammer.One shaped like the horn on the end with a riser would be used for finer forming,a swage for starting a bend,or to use a "hold fast",a clamp to hold a piece down while you work it,etc.
Lots of little attachments,sort of like a box full of things for the dreaded Dremel tool!
There is a decent book available called
The Art of Blacksmithing (duh)
by Alex W Bealer
Copyright 1976,1969
I've seen it all over the place for around ten or fifteen bucks,
Try Abe Books:
or Edward R Hamilton:
And you should find a copy there.

If you luck up and find an original one,you will be in great shape.
The one you mentioned that was tool steel sounds great.

There are different anvils for blacksmithing and horse shoeing.If you can find a farrier,ask them as they usually know where a blacksmiths anvil they passed on might be sitting.
Be prepared to pay a premium for an older one,people seem to think they are really valuable!But you might get lucky and get one with a bunch of tools and already mounted,and the freight is a killer on a new one.
Based on reviews of most of Harbor Freights products,I think I would pass on one,unless you go see it before you buy it.
They do have several outlets here in GA,around Atlanta and one in Macon.So maybe you could go check it out before you buy.
I'll keep my eyes open for two of them,since I would like to have one too! :neener:
Hope this helps!

May 26, 2005, 01:38 AM
Thanks for all the info and pictures. By the way, that link to beautifuliron.com is very informative.

gamachinist - I didn't think to PM you with my questions about anvils - I'm sure you've definitely been around a few! I'm sure you're right about shipping on an anvil being HIGH.

I did so more searching and found some forged anvils at: ridgid.com. They have some up to 275 pounds. I may check with Home Depot and see if they can order one and the prices.

Thanks again. I may post my findings when I settle on one.

Sir Aardvark
May 26, 2005, 02:02 AM
Beware! just because it looks like an anvil does not mean it acts like an anvil. Read up on them at the various blacksmith and forge websites. Some of the cheap, crappy anvils have no "ring" to them and your hammer will not "bounce" off of them as they should.

Check out this link:


Also, this is a good blacksmith site that has lots of links:


Also, post this same question on the "Non-Firearm Weapons" forum on THR, and I'm sure some knife-guy will give you his $.02 worth.

REAL anvils are not cheap, and since they weigh about 100 to 400 pounds the shipping costs will give you a heart attack!

May 26, 2005, 10:28 AM
"gamachinist - I didn't think to PM you with my questions about anvils - I'm sure you've definitely been around a few! I'm sure you're right about shipping on an anvil being HIGH. "

Nah,I just read a lot,and that particular book was where I could find it!
I have been around a few,but so far,no one will let me touch thiers!
And I have an aquantince who shoes horses,and she told me about the differences.
Unfortunalty she has moved away,and I can't contact her easily right now to see if she has a spare(I'm sure she does,but gettng her to part with it might be tough!).


May 26, 2005, 10:35 AM
Don't know where you can get one but my mom always used to tell me that I could break one when I was a kid.


Brian Williams
May 26, 2005, 01:25 PM
One of the best Anvil stands I have ever used was made from 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood, some sand, open cell foam rubber 1/2" thick and a cut down 35 gal barrel, 2 pieces of threaded rod 1/2" or 5/8" just shorter than length of barrel after cut off, 6 nuts and fender washers to fit rod, 2 lock washers,

Basically it is an assembly made up of the rods or bolts holding a piece of plywood above and below sand all set in a half barrel.

The foam allows any water to drain out but keeps in the sand.

take barrel and cut it in half and roll top edge,
poke three small holes in bottom, for water drainage,
cut foam to fit bottom of barrel and place in bottom,
cut 2 pieces of ply wood to fit snugly in barrel,
place anvil on top of ply wood and mark holes for mounting,
drill both discs to threaded rod specs,
take bottom disc put both rods thru disc,
put a washer on each side of bottom disc on both rods
put nut on each side of disc so that the both rods stick mostly out one side
Sequence on threaded rod will be
at one end: nut, washer, bottom plywood disc, washer, nut
Peen end of rod and keep this assembly as close to that peened end as possible,
put bottom disc and rods in barrel half on top of foam with rods up and nuts down.
now fill with good course sand from a masonry shop, not playground stuff
put remaining plywood disc on top with threaded rod thru holes,
place anvil on disc,
put on washers and lock washers
put on nuts and tighten.

I have seen assemblies like this that used 2 rods that held the unit together and I have seen a few that had 4 rods.

If you use a stump or other solid object the anvil will ring like a bell, if you use this sand barrel it will be solid but not transmit the ringing.
We had 6 of these in our shop in Industrial arts class that I had and I still have decent hearing. It also keep some of the shock from being transmitted to your hands,wrists, and elbows.

May 28, 2005, 12:39 AM
Anvil advice

As long as the work surface dosen't stand taller than your knuckles while standing up right, a anvil is never too big. Just about any big peice of metal and be turned into a anvil, with proper care.

Anvils need mass for the work but also a smooth level hardened work surface. I use a two and a half foot peice of six by six mild barstock that I welded a hardened cap with half inch stick rod made for such jobs (all the anvil's mass is right under the work surface this way, great for knife and sword blades), ground, polished, and shaped by hand. I added some out riggers and it dosen't take up much room and it's what "I" need.

Junk yards, and word of mouth are your friends.

A good anvil of a size, is a treasure indeed, a fab shop I use to work for paid around $1600 for a 300 lb industral anvil. New 100lb anvils of good make run from $450 to $600, again word of mouth and junk yards are your friends for those of us with lite pockets.

(By the way, what is a "hardie hole"?)
It's a square hole in a anvil that will hold various tools in place so that the guy behind the hammer has both hands free. A wide range of hardie tools can be used, depending on the task at hand. Example: a hardie cutting chisel will be used to cut heated stock so that the stock can be bent and folded onto itself, to make a japanese sword in the end.

A good online source for this stuff is http://www.centaurforge.com/ but watch your pocket book, ouch.

Not sure if I helped, but PM me if ya want more.

May 28, 2005, 07:44 AM
Been looking for one myself....Check in your area for auctions with farm equipment, often see anvils included. I'm looking for a medium-sized one (about 100 lbs, so its semi-portable)and haven't seen just what I want yet, but I've seen both larger and smaller ones go through these auction. Lots of other cool tools, too, often at ridculously low prices. (Went to one a while back where a PILE of shovels, hoes, racks and pick axes, went for $2....Alas, I'd driven my Firebird, and couldn't tranport them!)

May 28, 2005, 07:55 AM
I have no idea where to get it, but growing up we always had a 2 foot section of railroad rail sitting in the garage....very hard steel and nice smooth shape.

May 28, 2005, 11:04 AM
Does anyone know anything about these anvils? Made by Ridgid:


It says they're drop forged from "high grade steel". (They don't list the steel, though.) They have a 275 pound model listed.

By the way, I would love to find a 2-foot length of railroad track, just for an additional "anvil" device to have around. I've only found 6+ foot lenghts, and have no way of cutting it. (I don't even know what it would take to cut it - torch?)


May 28, 2005, 11:51 PM
Steve - an oxy/acetylene or oxy/propane would make short work of cutting that.

May 29, 2005, 11:29 AM
If you can find a 6' piece of track,you will have a good supply of material.
A torch will cut it if you have a large tip.
It is hard to describe,but you can cut it so that you have an anvil type extension,and if you plan it right,you can cut out a large based small surfaced dolly like part to use for forming.
Look at an autobody dolly and you can get my drift.
My piece mostly gets used for removing Ford axle King Pins with a large sledgehammer and a brave helper to hold the drift! :what:


Bill Z
May 29, 2005, 04:00 PM
Steve, I have 6 to 8 foot piece of railroad rail you can have if you come get it. It's over at my Mom's, but it'll cost you a ride to Augusta. Offer is actually open to anyone, I would like to get rid of this thing.

May 31, 2005, 01:51 AM
Call Harlan Suedmeyer in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He owns and operates the Little Giant power hammer company and sells black smithing coal. Last time I was there, he had about 40 anvils sitting in his shop. He had a 500 pounder out in the yard. You can buy new manufacture anvils, but I believe an old one should do the job. If you want a new one or want some ideas go to www.centaurforge.com. I have never purchased an anvil from there, but did buy some very good dydidium glass for heat treating and forging knife blades. If you have any trouble contacting him, let me know through a PM.

May 31, 2005, 10:12 PM
My late great friend, Bob Mackness, said that a man should have the heaviest anvil he can carry. That puts it between 50 and 200 pounds, depending on your size and condition.

May 31, 2005, 10:22 PM
DO NOT buy a cast anvil... they're brittle and I've broken the HF ones more than once.

You should only buy a wrought iron anvil, and they're hard to find nowadays (what am I saying, I'm 18....)

See if you can find a section of railroad track to use - it's the best available.

June 1, 2005, 01:22 AM
Just out of curiosity, how far are you supposed to be able to carry the anvil?

June 1, 2005, 04:17 AM
From the wagon to the forge I would guess!
I would hate to have to tote one any further than that.

June 1, 2005, 09:56 AM
Just out of curiosity, how far are you supposed to be able to carry the anvil?

Haha! Good question. Maybe I should look for a 25 pound anvil!

June 13, 2005, 05:42 PM
You might try.
School of the Ozarks,Mo.
They have one "hell" of a Blacksmithing Prog.
If not Monet Stell Casting Monet, Mo.
If you'r luckly steel scrap $1.00 Lbs.
Make sure it Rings! Not thunk! win you hit it with a Hammer! :cool:

June 14, 2005, 08:27 PM
First piece of advice on an anvil is "Buy as much as you can afford". You can always have too little anvil, but you can never have too much. I've worked on 150lb anvils and 400lb anvils and you can DEFINITELY tell the difference. It's a lot easier to move hot steel with a heavy anvil.

As for good places to get them. Check out EuroAnvils (http://www.euroanvils.net). They offer the best price/performance of any new construction anvil. They're high quality, cast steel, full hardened anvils from the Czech Republic. the horn will need a fair amount of work with a flap wheel on an angle grinder to smooth out, but I'd say the effort is worth it. My blacksmith guild just put a bunch of these in the teaching forge last year and they're very nice. Personally, I also like the European pattern as compared to the standard English pattern anvils.

I don't know if this was covered yet in this thread or not, but the hardie hole is the larger square hole in the anvil face and is used for holding various tools such as cutoff tools, etc. The pritchell hole is the smaller round hole in the anvil face usually used when punching so you can have the work piece supported but still have a place for the hot biscuit to fall through.

Also, if you're looking at used anvils, see if you can find a 3/4" or 1" ball bearing and take that with you. Drop it on the anvil face from about 12-18" high and notice how high it rebounds. An excellent anvil will rebound the BB almost as high as it was dropped from. If it doesn't rebound at least 3/4 of the way, keep on looking. You have to remember that the anvil under your work will help your hammer rebound from your work and save your wrists and arms a LOT. You CAN do a rebound test with a small ball pien hammer by holding the end of the handle between your thumb and forefinger to create a pivot point and dropping the pien of the hammer onto the face of the anvil and watching it's rebound. I wouldn't recommend this though as MOST folks don't like having their anvils hit with a hammer. If you're planning on using this method, ask first if the seller minds.

Also, a lot has been said over the years about an anvil's "ring" being an important factor to it's quality. The opinions on this are split, but I can tell you that the the historic forge at the farm museum my guild calls home has a 400lb Kolhswa anvil that is a joy to work on and has a fantastic rebound, but sounds almost completely dead. In the long run, all a ringing anvil will do is damage your hearing (so, wear ear protection if your anvil rings exccessively).

As has been pointed out, you should really check out AnvilFire (http://www.anvilfire.com). It has a lot of good info on anvil selection.

Personally, when I build my forge at my new house, I'll likely have a Euroanvil there.


P.S. Also check out ABANA (http://www.abana.org/). Find a guild in your area and contact them. Blacksmiths as a whole are generally very friendly helpful folks who are more than willing to share advice, info, and anything else they can.

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