Introduction: Anvil Stand
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
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
Lets start off by looking at the tools and materials required.
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)
Screw-driver (cordless power driver)
Drill and bits
For metalworking the reinforcements:
Cut-off disc for grinder
Sanding or "Flapper" Disc
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!