Introduction: Anvil Stand

Picture of Anvil Stand
No, an "anvil stand" is NOT a yoga position, nor something done at a frat party.

An anvil stand is simply a place to put your anvil for blacksmithing.

It's lighter and more portable than a chunk of tree trunk and can be built to a custom size and shape, and can include additional workspace and tool-holders.

My workspace is limited, so I have no room to permanently mount an anvil on concrete, a piece of tree trunk, or other extra-heavy or immovable object.

I've been interested in blacksmithing for a long time, but only recently visited a blacksmithing association meeting and demonstration day. While there, I purchased a used 55 pound "starter-anvil"

Of course, I now need a place to put it!
This anvil stand is built from completely recycled materials and features hand-forged steel corner reinforcements and tools holders.

This Instructable will take you through the steps I took to build a simple, yet nearly indescructible workbench that can hold up to the abuse of forging and repeated hammer blows.

Step 1: Plan the Project

Picture of Plan the Project

The first thing to do is to PLAN the project!
Ask yourself some questions, like
What materials do I have on hand (or want to spend the money for)
What similar projects have other people done?
How big should it be?
How much should it weigh?
How do I future-proof it?

I have already seen some GREAT-LOOKING anvil stands. (Do a Google Image search. There's some nice ones out there!) I decided that I wanted to build it from wood with the top roughly 18-inches-square. That would give enough room for my small anvil, with some additional space for tools, and maybe even a place for a small vise.

I attended a blacksmithing get-together at the Upper Midwest Blacksmithing Association Meeting (UMBA) which is a member group of ABANA

I also read several books on blacksmithing from the library and watched an instructional blacksmithing video. Read as many books as you can. Try to find ones with good photography and illustrations. Video is even better, and seeing a live demonstration with a real master is best of all.

All of the books, videos, and smiths I spoke with say that you want the top of the anvil to be "knuckle-height". While standing, with your arm at your side, wrap your hand around a hammer. Measure from your knuckles to the ground. That should be the height of the top of your anvil. It's likely to be about 30 inches or so.

Subtract the height of your anvil, and you should have the height of your stand, in this case about 23 inches.

Now lets take a look at the tools and materials needed for the project.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Lets start off by looking at the tools and materials required.

TOOLS:
Most of the tools for this project are typical woodworking tools, a few basic metal tools, and optionally the most basic of blacksmithing tools.

Cross-cut saw (circular power saw)
Tape Measure
Pencil
Speed Square
Screw-driver (cordless power driver)
Drill and bits
Sander

For metalworking the reinforcements:
Angle Grinder
Cut-off disc for grinder
Grinding Disc
Sanding or "Flapper" Disc

OPTIONAL:
Blacksmithing Equipment
Forge
Hammer
Tongs

And of course, Personal Protective Equipment - Safety Glasses, Hearing Protection, Work Gloves, and anything else required for the tools you are using. If using a grinder, a face shield is also a nice piece of equipment to have.

MATERIALS:
Every single piece of material in this entire project was recycled, salvaged, scrap, or in the case of a handful of nuts and bolts came from the bin in my garage. This is a zero budget project, with no runs to the hardware store and no cash out of pocket.

Lumber (Wood)
This project uses scrap lumber.
I was working a construction job the week before I built this. As part of my work, I needed to remove wood torn out from the remodeling project and put it in a dumpster. Instead of sending it all to the landfill, I took home several planks that looked like a useful size. I merely had to pound out the nails and cut the lumber to length.

In the United States, lumber is named by it's width and height in inches, but is actually SMALLER than that size. For example, a "2x4" is 1.5 inches thick, by 3.5 inches wide. I addition, because I am building with USED lumber some of it is non-standard. For example, the 2x4s that I use is an odd extra wide piece. Another common practice is to use the " mark to indicate inches and ' to indicate feet.
Hereafter, I will can lumber by its common name.

I used:
Ten pieces of 2x4 
Eight pieces of 2x6
and Two pieces of 2x10

Other materials were:
3" deck screws
Eight 1/2" by 6" carriage bolts
Nuts and washers to match carriage bolts
Scrap metal for reinforcements - 1"x3/16" flat steel stock, about 6 feet long total
Two 3/8" by 3" bolts with matching nuts and washers

Lets get started by cutting the wood to size and then assembling it.

Step 3: Cut the Wood

Picture of Cut the Wood

Next, I cut the wood to size.

This was all simple cross-cuts, using a circular power-saw. A chop-saw or radial arm saw are nice to use if you have them, and they quickly and surely make nice 90-degree cuts. With a circular saw or hand-saw, a speed square or clamped-on right angle can insure a good square cut.

I measured and cut:
8  2x4 to 21.5" long for the legs
2 2x10 to 18" long for the top (at 9" wide each, this makes 18" for a square top)
2  2x4 to 18" long as supports under the top
4  2x6 to 18" long for the short sides of the top and bottom
4 2x6 to 21 long for the long sides of the top and bottom.

I was originally thinking of making an L-shape for the legs from the 2x4s, but it was easier to just screw pairs of the 2x4s together for a simple, solid leg.

The wood is then assembled, screwed, and bolted together.


Step 4: Assemble the Wood

Picture of Assemble the Wood

Next, I assembled the wood parts.

I stood up the four legs. I then tacked together the two 2x10s temporarily so that they could be laid directly over the legs. I put one deck screw through the top of each corner of the top into the legs.

Then, the 2x6s go AROUND the top. The two shorter ones and the two longer ones go opposite of each other. I then drove in three screws into both ends of the 2x6s into the leg. Use a square to make sure the leg is at a right angle while driving in the screws.

I put the screws in in a triangular pattern. That reduces the likely-hood of splitting from two screws being in the same part of the woodgrain and leaves room in the middle for a carriage bolt.

Next, I installed the other four pieces of 2x6 around the base of the stand, checked for square, and mounted with screws.

After that, I drilled 1/2" holes through the 2x6 frame and the doubled-up 2x4 legs.

I put long 1/2" carriage bolts through the holes, added washers and a nut on the back-side, and tightened. This is done on the top and bottom of all four legs.

Make sure all is square and drive some additional screws through the corners.

With the stand upside-down, put in two 2x4 cross-pieces, then screw in from the ends. Flip the stand back upright and drive screws from the top into these two supports.

I used an orbital sander with 120 grip sandpaper to just take off the rough edges and any splinters left from cutting the lumber.

With that, the basic wood workbench is done, but it could still use some blacksmithing details, additional reinforcement, and the anvil permanently mounted to the top.

Step 5: Corner Brackets

Picture of Corner Brackets
To make the project extra-strong and add a traditional look, I decided that some iron corner brackets were needed.

I already had some rusty scrap iron that was one-inch wide by 3/16ths-inch thick. It was a good size to make some corners from.

I measured and marked four 12-inch long pieces, and then cut them using an angle-grinder with a metal cut-off disc. Make sure to wear eye, ear, hand, and face protection while doing this.

While this metal is thin enough to bend in a vise or beat with a hammer while cold, it's much easier to work hot. And since this is a project for blacksmithing, I decided to forge my corner brackets. I am a TOTAL BEGINNER at blacksmithing, but the corners only need to be sturdy and functional, so they would be a good practice project.

I fired up my very basic coal forge and heated the middle of each of the four pieces of iron. (If you are interested in building your own forge, there are many great examples right here on Instructables.)


With the metal hot, I beat it into a right angle over the edge of the anvil.




I also wanted to add at least a little decoration, so I heated the ends of the bracket and pounded a simple fishtail shape. One thing about being a beginning blacksmith is that it's easy to forget "order of operations". It would have been easier to make the decorations on the end of the straps FIRST and then bend them to a right angle SECOND. Oh well, now YOU know for when you build YOUR anvil stand!


I also punched a hole in the one strap. Punching is different than drilling. Instead of a drill and bit, I heated the bracket and then hammered a punch through the hot metal. What's neat about this is that you don't really lose any metal, it just gets pushed around, instead of cut into shavings. However, since my anvil doesn't have a pritchel hole (a round hole in the anvil used for punching and other techniques) it was difficult and time-consuming. I drilled the other holes in the corner brackets for mounting.

After brushing the brackets with a wire wheel, I installed them with screws.

I tested nailing the brackets to the stand with old-fashioned square nails. They look great, but don't hold nearly as well as screws.

Step 6: Anvil Straps

Picture of Anvil Straps
With that, the anvil needs to be permanently mounted to the stand.

There are many different ways to do that, sometimes involving chains. I didn't have any of those handy, but I did have more of the flat iron strap. I decided I would use that to make brackets to bolt the anvil down to the stand.

To start with, position the anvil where you would like it. I designed the stand so that the anvil would be close to the front, with spare room on the back for tools and other items.

Trace the foot of the anvil to mark where it goes. Measure from one side of the anvil, around its foot, to the opposite side. That's the length of the metal strap to hold down that side. On my anvil, this was about 12". 

Mark a point on either side of the anvil, and drill a bolt hole. I'm using a pair of 3/8" bolts, so I drilled 3/8" holes.

Cut two pieces of metal to the length already measured. (I cut mine a little long, "just in case".)

Heat the metal in the forge, then set it in position against the anvil and hammer it into shape. This took several heats. I also set the anvil on some scrap steel plate to prevent burning the wood too much with the hot metal.

Drill a 3/8" hole in both ends of the metal anvil strap. That will allow for a bolt through the strap and into the stand.


Make a second strap the same way, then wire-brush them, set them around the anvil, and insert a bolt through both brackets, into the stand, and secure with a washer and nut from the underside of the stand.

The anvil is now securely attached to the stand.

Since the anvil was finally connected to something, I took the opportunity to clean up the anvil. It's only a cast iron anvil, and can easily be shaped with a grinder. I stripped the rust off the face, removed the paint on the top of the horn, and did some general cleaning and polishing. 

This is a cheap-o "made in China" anvil, so it actually says "CHINA" right on the back. I didn't really like that, but since my last nice starts with N, I decided to both remove "CHI A"  and personalize the anvil by grinding off everything EXCEPT my initial, the N.

The anvil looks very nice with a little polish to it. I also added a bit of a radius on part of the face for hammering curves and I may still drill a pritchel hole or make a few other modifications in the future as needed.

Step 7: Hammer Loops

Picture of Hammer Loops

Besides holding the anvil, the anvil stand is also a place for a few of the basic tools of smithing.

I wanted to hold my two starter hammers on the side of the stand. So, I dug through my materials bin and found an old leather belt, which was missing the buckle.

I held the belt against the side of the anvil stand, and drove a screw and washer through one of the holes in the belt. 

I then loosely looped the belt over the thickest part of the handle, and drove another screw into the belt, forming a leather loop to hold the hammer.

I added a third screw a few inches over, so the two loops aren't too close to each other and the hammer heads hit, and repeated with the other hammer.

Then I cut the extra bit of leather off with a sharp knife.

Step 8: Other Details

Picture of Other Details

Besides a place for hammers, I've also found that I want a place for my fire poker. Until now, I've never had a good place to set it down.

I already made a few small hooks from nails, and had a pair that were perfectly functional, but not as nice looking as some of the others. I screwed the two hooks on the side opposite of the hammers as a place for the poker.

I also had a piece of round stock iron (an old spring actually) that was a practice piece which became sort of a failed S-hook. However, it had a nice shape to it, and I thought it would make a good decoration for the front.

I attached it to the front with two screws.

At this point a person could also finish off the anvil stand in many ways, sanding, painting, stain, or even wood-burning.

As for me, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's somewhat rough and simple, and not overly finished, but with iron accents, appropriate for blacksmithing.

In the photos, I have a couple of really simple pieces I've made so far. I have about one-days worth of blacksmithing experience to my name. I look forward to doing some more so I can actually get decent at it!

Step 9: Finished

Picture of Finished
So there's the stand!

Remember, an anvil stand just has to be the right height to hold the anvil and nice and sturdy. Other than that you can design it almost any way you want.

Now you make one!
Make sure to send me photos of what you build (or already have!) so everyone can see.

Good Luck, and Good Smithing!


Comments

ZaneEricB (author)2013-03-27

MY FAVORITE DETAIL OF THE ENTIRE PIECE are the tie downs for the anvil...rugged, functional, and indestructable...the other details are fancy...but im not, so function works for me!

bennelson (author)ZaneEricB2013-03-27

Thanks for noticing. That ended up being my favorite too!

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-09

Anyone saying this is overbuilt is wrong...

It NEEDS to be. The Anvil has to be heavy to have enough inertia to have
any effect when something is struck against it. They used to use LARGE old hard wood tree sections cut off as flat and square as possible, ones that weighted more than the anvils...

Nobody could steal them, they couldn't move them! The tree section and anvil could weigh over 1200 to 1500 pounds, easy. (85.7 to 107.12 stone, or 544.3 kilograms to 680.3 kilos....) I've had cars and motorcycles that weighed less!

You can't overbuild this, and shouldn't under-build it.

Yep, you're right..! The more dead weight and mass there is, the better. I once made an anvil stand for a friend of mine, heavy steel pipes and square tubes. I filled the whole thing with concrete. It's rock steady and the sound is dampened significantly.

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-09

bennelson

Sir, I was honestly surprised to find a 55 pound anvil that had no way to bolt it down to a work place. Your solution was elegant.

madenairy (author)2013-03-21

great idea, i think i'd have to beef up the joints though - my anvil weighs in at 3 1/2 hundredweight! (263 kg or 599.64 pounds)

aristide202 (author)madenairy2013-03-24

WWWOW SUCH AN ANVIL.Is it steel or cast iron made? Anyway let us see a photograph of such toy

MattS57 (author)aristide2022015-09-06

I've seen similar anvil at Rural King & Harbor Freight

John T MacF Mood (author)MattS572016-08-09

And NO, I do not work for Walmart, Harbor Freight, and never heard of Rural King.

John T MacF Mood (author)MattS572016-08-09

Not familiar with Rural King, but Harbor Freight has some good "deals" but the quality of the forging and castings leave a lot to be desired. One pal bought a mid-range cost vise, and one of the jaws was not solid cast, it has hollow, and broke the first time he tightened it on a metal item. If you buy there, I suggest un-boxing and inspecting carefully anything you get from Harbor Freight prior to putting down hard earned money. Some stuff is passable, barely, much is garbage.

The reason they are similar is the suppliers for Harbor Freight are in China, and the supplier buys ONE of a good [pick any tool] and copy it as cheaply and as easily as they can. The store is full of cheap knock offs.

Oddly, Walmart has better quality and similar prices, for a non-store stock item, you can ship to store and save the freight costs. I bought the same design of vise (different brand) from Walmart and the quality and the actual weight of it was both better and much heavier. And it actually cost me less than Harbor Freight.

I suggest widen your search, Walmart's online catalog has some good things from the economy models to the high end models for good prices. And they far outstrip the quality at Harbor Freight. yeah, I know, even at Walmart better quality sounds kind of like an oxymoron, but it's worked for me, quite well..

madenairy (author)aristide2022013-03-24

its cast iron ballast but faced with blister steel on the work surfaces, sorry have'nt got a camera at the mo!

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-02

On the holes idea, I thought annealing the track might work to allow the cutting of the hardy hole and re-tempering it after both holes were made. Horse shoes definitely need a pritchel / punch hole to make them properly (even if they are for decoration), and a hardy hole is essential for a lot of tasks.. I'll pass on any experimental results I get back to you.

A suggestion, if you want to artificially age the surface of the wood to make it look all the same tone, an antiquing stain after the following sandblasting trick might be a eye catcher.

A bit of light sandblasting of the wood can give it a weathered look so it will appear as being older and traditional. You may want let it sit in the summer sun for a few hot summer days and then hit the wood with the sandblaster for a bit, sure to make it look quite weathered. Brings out the grain and make it look more rough hewn. Experiment with some scraps of similar wood....

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-02

Anyone with tips on adding a pritchel hole or a hardy hole to a bit of rail made into an anvil, please do chime in. My anvil is in the build stage, and the vise for the other side is on order. I have about 40" of de-commissioned rail track in full size gauge. Heck to move, I can barely lift it. I may split it and make a large and a small anvil out of it.

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-02

Very nice build, I'm suitably impressed! I plan on getting permission to clear off construction debris to build one. The less often their dumpster has to be removed, the more they save,. so most places don't mind, and even like removal of what they call waste, I call it a gold mine of scrap. When I've built one of my own, I'll post photos here...

KronoNaut (author)2016-07-03

A friend had a similar anvil stand that was portable. The legs stored inside what is the bottom of your design and he would take it with him to fairs. Great design.

KatherineP27 made it! (author)2016-05-23

I made this today! My dad helped me and It was loads of fun! We even made a little roof for it, since it will be outside, and needs to store my tool box. Still need to add some hooks and holds for hammers( and some stain)! Thanks so much for the idea and insparation.

The_knifemaker123 (author)2016-02-20

The straps are unnececairy you can simply use the hole in the bottom of the anvil

3366carlos (author)2016-01-03

awesome man.

wolffram (author)2015-12-05

Simply awesome. Thanks for the inspiration!

rvandenberg1 (author)2015-07-31

Nice anvil stand, but just as you say it ( Anvil stand) in only to be meant for the anvil. when you make it like yours for tools and all it becomes an anvil work bench and this is where you run into problems making your projects. You will find that when you are starting to build longer forgings that you need the space around your anvil. With this type of design you do not have that. Nevertheless you did a good job and the forging I see is nice as well. Keep up the good work and good for you that you keep this dying tradition alive.

Robert Vandenberg, second generation Blacksmith.( check out my work on facebook)

bennelson (author)rvandenberg12015-07-31

Thanks Robert!
Yes, true, in this case the project is sort of a combination anvil stand/work bench. I'm a pretty entry-level smith and have fairly limited space. So, it does what I need it to do, including having space to set a few things down and hang a few hammers. It's worked great for me so far.

Maybe in the future I can build myself some nice separate hammer and tong racks!

dsdragonspawn (author)2015-02-14

How much do you think the lumber would cost for those who can not find it free in their area?

I always check out craigslist free section for "scrap" lumber. or behind shopping centers for old pallets and stuff. you'd be surprised how much stuff is just thrown out. if it looks nice you should ask first.

Soul8541 (author)2015-05-06

Made it! Thanks so much!

bennelson (author)Soul85412015-05-06

Looks great!

denitza.bantchevska (author)2014-12-08

Hello,

I am looking for corner brackets like this and run into these pictures. I wonder if you would be willing to sell me a pair?

Thanks,

Deni

whoahbaby (author)2014-10-28

Wow, great design and I love the tie down, looks really sturdy and well made!!!

lucek (author)2014-02-23

Bit overbuilt. I mean that thing is built stronger then most walls.

Nice IBlE now.

sebastianvdm (author)2013-05-21

beautiful anvil!

jdege (author)2013-03-15

When my grandmother moved into a nursing home, the one thing she wanted me to make sure wasn't lost was my great-grandfather's anvil. I'm the eldest, and he passed before my siblings were born, and it is nice to have something to remember him by. But the thing weighs 120 pounds, and a pocket watch would have been more convenient ;)

I've never done metalworking, and haven't much interest in taking it up, but I've always found having an anvil around to bang on to be useful. I have long used a seven-pounder that I set on top of my desk or workbench, as necessary.

But I still have that 120-pounder, down on the floor. I've thought about putting it up on a stand, someday, where I could actually use it. But I didn't have a workable plan in my head.

Now I do.

Thanks.

aristide202 (author)jdege2013-03-24

My grandmother (!!!) sold the whole stuff I mean two huge anvils, vises and all the related tools you can imagine to pay the dentist ... just a hammer survived , it is more than 160 years old, just because i picked it up before the disaster and later when I grew up I had to buy the whole again . This is the way it goes.

cerberustugowar (author)jdege2013-03-16

A quicker stand if you need nothing fancy is a cut piece of log. It is suppose to give good feel and shock absorbtion. I believe you can figure out the correct height it needs to be by standing normally with your arms at your sides and your hands in a fist. The distance from the ground to the bottom of your first is how high the top of the anvil is suppose to be.

Sounds like you have quite the anvil none the less and some people would love to get their hands on a nice, old, heavy anvil like that.

A big hunk of log is great for an anvil. I already have one I wanted to use, but it's a little short, and weighs considerably more than the anvil stand.

Because I have limited shop space, something more portable than a stump is important so that I can move my equipment around to use as needed.

if you need portability then yes, you need to build that in to it. There is a ferrier (horse shoer) that always comes in to work. Wish I could see his set up to forward any small ideas I could observe from him and also to remember if I ever get a hold of an anvil myself. Your set up does look great though. Maybe you could add something more to hold any extra tools you have for the hardy hole?

cerberustugowar (author)jdege2013-03-16

Sorry, didn't see he already went through correct anvil height

aristide202 (author)2013-03-24

Amazing zero budget instructable, I've never seen such kind of anvil stand. It looks far enough proportionate to the anvil weight, adding some more optionals it could be a fantastic blacksmithing working post . Knukle height makes the difference in safety and effectiveness of hammer blows. I suggest some kind wood preserving paint or iron sulphate water solution which is also fire proofing for ground touchig wood parts of the stand. I have my anvil standing on a huge solid timber chunk which sipped humidity in years and turned a little rotten .

WrshpMzshn (author)2013-03-21

Would it compromise the structure at all to move the bottom apron up a few inches to allow some toe-kick room?

bennelson (author)WrshpMzshn2013-03-21

Structurally, I think it would be all the same.

I put the bottom cross-pieces all the way to the ground because it spreads out the weight of the stand to a larger area.

I also have a bad habit of dropping things and having them roll under tables, which is prevented by the bottom apron being all the way to the floor.

WrshpMzshn (author)bennelson2013-03-21

And have you noticed the tools seem always to roll to the exact center of whatever they're under?
Under my workbench is a wormhole. I'll drop something under there, be unable to find it, and locate it later somewhere else in my shop.

bennelson (author)WrshpMzshn2013-03-21

Perhaps there's some way to use that as a source of power, similar to the cat/buttered toast perpetual motion generator?

pfred2 (author)2013-03-18

I don't know, the tree stump is the classic. Like you say your situation doesn't permit it, but that still doesn't take away from the elegance of the stump. I made the stump for my anvil and I have to say the process was not as simple as it may appear to be. Getting those ends flat and parallel isn't so ah, cut and dried? It took me a considerable amount of hand block end grain planing to accomplish it. I guess my chainsaw-fu isn't the best? When you mentioned the right height of an anvil I had to measure mine, it turns out I'm at 31 inches here. I did that without reading any books or anything. Just seemed right to me is all.

jwalker 50 (author)2013-03-16

GREAT JOB WELL DONE !IT'S. STURDY AND STRONG. ALL I NEED IS. AN ANVIL. SCRAP YARD AND I'LL HAVE A FIELD DAY. PLUS I'LL ADD A WELDING EXTENSION TO ADD VERSSATILITY. You have inspired me to get back to building and inventing. I have been disability retired since 2000(39yrs old ) I have worked on and built even redesigned tools. God bless you. Johnny.

RikJamez (author)2013-03-16

Now just to find a good quality anvil that doesn't cost a fortune ...

bennelson (author)RikJamez2013-03-16

Getting in touch with a local blacksmithing group is a great way to find some affordable used equipment. I've also been collecting old tools at rummage sales for years. (Not that you are likely to find an anvil at a rummage sale, but it could happen! I found my electric car forklift motor at a rummage sale!)

RikJamez (author)bennelson2013-03-16

Thanx, I will try that ,...
Rik

KoomoriForge (author)2013-03-16

That's a fine-looking anvil stand; great job building it!

batonas (author)2013-03-16

Minecraft!

artwell (author)2013-03-15

Simple and nicely done.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2013-03-15

AWESOME!!!
I always wanted an anvil for smithing as well as other work, just never got around to buying one...8 (
Sir, you are an inspiration for me to get off my lazy butt & smith something!!
TY for sharing Sir!

audreyobscura (author)2013-03-15

Wow. Great work. This looks like it means a whole lot of business, thank you for sharing.

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