Introduction: Home-made Anvil

Picture of Home-made Anvil

The blacksmiths' mantra, if you will, Is "need a tool, make a tool". Well, I needed an anvil. Cash availability was an issue, so I turned to instructibles. I didn't find quite what I was looking for so I did some further research and forged ahead(pun intended).

You will need;
-sanding/grinding /cutting discs
-1 inch plate
-2 inch round stock
-1 inch round stock
-1/2 inch round stock

Step 1: Acquiring the Parts and Pieces

Picture of Acquiring the Parts and Pieces

A word of warning; I was able to keep costs down by doing a lot of "dumpster diving" at work. I had a chunk of 1 inch steel plate rusting under my carport, so I decided to use it for the body. I wanted clean square edges so I took it to a machine shop and had it plasma cut into 6 4 x 8 inch chunks and 2 4 inch chunks. Bevel grind all edges and 6010 weld, then cap and pad with 7018.

Step 2: Grind the Top of the Body Flat and Level.

Picture of Grind the Top of the Body Flat and Level.

Grind the body flat and level on top. One thing I would do differently is have a couple holes cut in the top plate and plug weld it to the body. Assemble all parts and begin tacking together. Bevel all corners, root weld 6010, then 7018 cap.
Be careful, don't drop this thing on your foot! Weld a little, flip and weld, flip and weld to avoid warpage.

Step 3: Assembling Main Components

Picture of Assembling Main Components

Weld the body to the base. I had the machine shop cut me a top plate and doubler plate for the hardie and pritchel holes. 1/2" thick, 4 x 14, and a 4 x 4 by 1 inch block where the horn comes off, with another smaller piece of 1" plate under that for more support. The horn was 2 inch round stock, with 1 inch and 1/2 inch welded to that. Then it's a matter of welding and grinding and welding and grinding. I did weld railroad spikes to the sides of the horn to widen it out a little. I also made gussets out of 3/8 plate for the front and back. Bevel all corners, and weld everything out. Go for good penetration, because you will be grinding welds down. Shape it how you want it. I decided to leave the beads on the body intact-I figured why take weight off when heavier is better. I also really like the look of it sitting on the stump.

Step 4: Clean It and Seal It

Picture of Clean It and Seal It

You don't usually paint an anvil because hot metal will just burn it off. I decided to use bbq paint on the underside and beeswax mixed with boiled linseed oil and turpentine for everything else. Have a beer, your pretty much done.


andrewty (author)2017-01-22

The blacksmith I worked with before I left
school 49years ago told me that the anvil sits on a log that is 6feet
below floor level. A log about about 7.5feet long gets the anvil to a
nice working height.

It's the springiness of the log down/along the grain that gives the anvil it's rebound ability.

doughnut43 (author)andrewty2017-01-22

Any particular type of wood for the log?

trknust (author)doughnut432017-01-23

The log just works as adding additional mass to the anvil as well as getting it up to where you need it. So the heavier the better. as long as the connection to the log is secure so the anvil does not fall on your foot while hitting it.

My best anvil is a 14 inch round piece of 8150 that is about 5 inches thick. I hardened it with a blower and a bonfire to get it hot enough so a magnet would no longer stick to it, then a friend and I hoisted it up into a half a barrel of used motor oil. Once the fire went out, (Quite a while) and it cooled down enough to handle I welded it to a 3 inch pipe that was welded to a plow disk on the bottom.

Best knife making anvil I ever had.

aebe (author)doughnut432017-01-22

The butt end of a telephone pole works .

damian62 (author)doughnut432017-01-22

Jarrah or Oak, termites hate Jarrah

gomer394 (author)doughnut432017-01-22

I would be lying if I told you-the free kind? I would imagine dense and heavy would be best, something that termites don't view as candy.

trknust (author)andrewty2017-01-23

Actually, the rebound has to do with the hardness of the upper surface.The rest of the anvil just provides the inertia to hold this upper surface still.

A great way to test the "Rebound" (or surface hardness) of an anvil is to take a clear plastic tube, 6 inches to a foot tall, and a ball bearing that fits freely in it., Drop the ball bearing and watch how high it bounces back. The harder the metal the better the rebound will be. The more mass you have under this surface that will not move and absorb your energy the better.

Most cast anvils have a half inch or so of very hard tool or high alloy steel on the top, like 1095 or 8150, This is the material used to make car and truck leaf springs. And Yea, These same leaf springs are cheap and easy to get. They are also easy to both heat hot enough to flatten and shape if needed then to re-temper up to HARD before welding to the mass part of the anvil.

You can make a pretty good one by taking a RR track piece, and welding plate to it all along the bottom to add weight and welding a leaf spring to the top after flattening it..

jtobako (author)trknust2017-04-07

" up to HARD before welding..." so, get it the right hardness and then...heat it with welding? Why bother with the tempering if you are going to ruin the temper by welding? (I use the edges of the anvil constantly, and a soft edge when trying to shape anything but flat would be a nightmare.)

gomer394 (author)andrewty2017-01-22

I think that dude was messing with you, or maybe your memory is flawed(no offense). The whole point of the log is minimizing movement and attenuating vibration, which burying the log in the ground certainly would do. Heavy dense wood acts like a silencer, cutting down on noise.

sparaski1 (author)gomer3942017-01-25

I was master Plumber at Detroit Water & Sewerage Department, across hall was Blacksmith Shop. When our new facility was being constructed from old Dodge Main Engine Plant in early 90s they sank treated wood bases into floor at least 8 feet for hammer forges in blacksmith shop so I believe the claim is valid. It eliminates vibration to rest of building. Sure a 20 lb sledge is not a 20 ton hydraulic hammer but same principle.

MikeAlmogy (author)2017-03-05


Very nice project.

I was wondering how is it lasting, do you have hammer bumps and groves or did you harden the surface of the top steel to resist then?



gomer394 (author)MikeAlmogy2017-03-05

I've got a couple dings in it from missing with the hammer, but it's holding up fine. The bottom line is this- if you have the ability to build something like this, you have the ability to repair it anytime you choose. Grind it smooth a time or two, then pad weld the top plate. If you do pad weld, that would probably be a good time to use hard facing rods.

Raitis (author)2017-02-27

Even looking at this thing feels heavy. Great job!

maint1 (author)2017-01-29

I've seen plans for a "make your own" anvil before. I recall the instructions called for surfacing the top with manganese "hard facing" rod, the kind they use to give backhoe buckets & such some abrasion resistance. Claim was, two overlapping layers of hard facing, applied perpendicular to each other & peened down during application, gave a fairly smooth surface, with an initial Rockwell hardness of around 50. Just a thought :)

avayan (author)2017-01-22

MAN, this looks MEGA-AWESOME!!!! Will definitely try to make one of these, one of these days. Would definitely love to hear how it behaves as it gets pounded on. I have read many comments here where some people seem to believe it may not stand to abuse. I am no expert and I truly couldn't guess what will happen, but the way I see it is this: if man has been crafting swords and all sorts of stuff on anvils which were developed hundreds of years ago with WAY less technology than what we have today, why would yours be of inferior quality? I am thinking it should do wonderfully! Keep us posted!

ShalorM (author)avayan2017-01-28

The main problem with an anvil like this is that the face isn't hardened so it will probably get a lot more dings and dents than one that is hundreds of years old that is hardened.

gomer394 (author)avayan2017-01-22

I'll try to post a video next time I fire up the forge. It sounds good.

gomer394 (author)2017-01-27

Am I the only one that sees another anvil sitting there? I love melting metal with fire!

knutknackebröd (author)2017-01-27

damn, looking at the end product i'd say you could have made enough money for an anvil just working as a machinist for a couple of days.

cheers, knut

gomer394 (author)knutknackebröd2017-01-27

Ah, if only that were true. As an out of work commercial diver trying to keep the dream alive, my hourly rate is pretty low.

fbarry1 (author)2017-01-27

I'm learning to weld. Looks like a great practice piece that will get plenty of use afterwards, as well. Thank you for an awesome Instructable.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2017-01-25

Good God, man - you made a damn anvil.

mackcrane (author)2017-01-24

A really good anvil can be made from a piece of railroad track. If you look around in scrap yards they can be had from time to time for a few dollars. One hint if you want to cut it to size the old school way , you have to score it with a cold chisel and then break it off to length with a hammer blow.

stephen.baer.5 (author)2017-01-22

Aren't anvils supposed to be cast, not forged? I'm no metallurgist, but an iron worker buddy of my dad's told me an anvil HAS to be cast, otherwise the work will weld to it while it's being forged on it. It was thirty years ago, so I may not remember exactly what he said as to why. All that welding seems like some serious overkill compared to just having a foundry cast one. Not that welding together a solid 100 lb chunk of scrap wouldn't be fun, but aren't the rods/wire WAY more expensive than a purchased cast anvil?

pitte (author)stephen.baer.52017-01-24

If anything a forged anvil will last 20 generations, a cast anvil maybe 2 if you are lucky. I was in farrier school 20-odd years ago. The anvils (forged) were replaced by cast anvils. After 2 years the cast anvils looked worse for wear than the forged ones which had been there for over 60 years. Please bear in mind that this was a school, many inexperienced students, many blows (these anvils were in use 7 days a week (yes, also on Sundays) Hope this helps

gomer394 (author)stephen.baer.52017-01-22

I'm still in the learning phase, but it's my understanding that to forge weld both pieces of metal need to be at forge welding temp; the anvil's never gonna get that hot. As to the cost of rods, yes-if you buy a forged anvil from harbor freight, the rods would cost more. I know,I have a harbor freight anvil. They suck. And I love harbor freight! I looked around, and used anvils are now being sold at antique shops, at 4-8 dollars a lb, and are still being snatched up by want-to-be blacksmiths such as myself! I work at a fab shop, so this solution worked for me, As noted at the beginning of my instructable.

Cube_ (author)gomer3942017-01-23

well, I wouldn't say NEVER. But you're using the anvil very wrong if it gets anywhere near hot enough to forge weld (and if it does you've likely ruined it anyway).

For any reasonable use it can't get hot though, it's a giant bloody heatsink.

Disablednotdead (author)gomer3942017-01-22

Your 55# Harbor freight anvil can be upgraded by attaching a piece of hard steel plate (1/2"-1") to the top. It's a mediocre quality cast now, the hard top plate would make it much better, I did it to mine. I've since bought a larger (115#) anvil with a forged top surface and horn, I got a good deal from a Craigslist seller. Good luck

gomer394 (author)Disablednotdead2017-01-22

If the horn wasn't so funky I would agree with you. I didn't think it was worth the time/expense.

astrong0 (author)stephen.baer.52017-01-22

So... kinda. In the time that have been forging, I've had a piece of steel stick to the anvil face only once. I left a flux covered piece out to normalize and the flux almost glued it to the surface. It took a bit of work but I got it off.
Cast steel has the peculiar property of have info way too much carbon in it. I think upwards of 7 %. This makes it strong but brittle. Like what Disablednotdead said about upgrading a harbour freight anvil by welding a 1095 plate to the face it will last a lot longer. I've worked on cast anvils and I've had them chip when I word the edges. The small pieces fly off at about Mach 4. It's not safe. A forged steel anvil is the best. Obviously if you are making knives, you don't need a 300 pound German steel anvil. But if you are doing large amounts of wrought iron or even larger billets of Damascus (pattern welded, I don't want to start a debate about this term) and have a couple of strikers wielding 10 pound sledge hammers then, yeah you should look at a 200-300 pound anvil. This one in the instructable is fantastic for fairly heavy work.

clayms (author)stephen.baer.52017-01-22

The iron worker buddy was wrong. For centuries all best anvils were forge welded together. Some were cast with steel plate cast in.

Today the cast iron anvils are cheapest and poorest anvils. No blacksmith will use one if he can get a welded up steel anvil.

mephit (author)clayms2017-01-22

The cheap, crappy anvils are poorly cast of low-quality iron with no hardened steel face plate. That's what makes them crap, not the fact that they're cast. A well made cast anvil can outperform a forge-welded one because the iron and/or steel it's made from is more consistent and the grain structure is more regular.

OberstDackel (author)2017-01-24

Awesome project. Loved the use of scrap parts- it's what machinists and blacksmiths always did- and look what they created. I'm a very firm believer in necessity fuelling creativity- too often now we're a bit spoiled in access to cheap (and crappy) tools from a certain nation. Not sure if any use- 2 video's on youtube called "Blacksmith anvil restoration"- where a blacksmith restores temper to his 200 yr old anvil- quenching it in a river. Also look up face hardening. Some may have missed that the anvil needs to "ring"- to have "bounce" in it so it does not deform from repeated striking.

KryptoTSD (author)2017-01-22

That's good, although I watched a Youtube video made by a fellow welded his together from larger pieces and used an angle grinder to further shape and polish it. I don't know which I would or should try making...

gomer394 (author)KryptoTSD2017-01-23

I'm pretty sure I watched the same video, it was a Canadian high school student in shop class. He had a lot of high end machine tools at his disposal. That video was a big motivator for me. I took the idea and tweaked it to suit my situation. Good luck with your project!

KryptoTSD (author)gomer3942017-01-24

Thanks. Gonna Try it!

aebe (author)2017-01-22

Good looking anvil . A No tool way to go is get a piece of carbon steel from a scrapyard , something around 6X6X6 will be big and heavy enough for light work .

gomer394 (author)aebe2017-01-23

If there's a place around you that does forklift repair, a piece of old forklift fork is exactly what you're talking about.

aebe (author)gomer3942017-01-23

'Xactly .

trknust (author)2017-01-23

Extremely high craftsmanship. This is one of the best indestructible I have read in a very long time.

Should you find you need more mass (if the anvil is wandering around as you hit on it), You can put it on a stand made out of 4 x 4's glued and screwed together, standing upright. Use treated wood to keep the bugs from eating it away from you. I have lost a few stands from logs this way.

You can also weld as much more steel plate to the bottom of it until you get tired of doing so and it is a heavy as you want. As long as none of the welded pieces are able to vibrate when you are done, they just become more mass to hold that hard top surface still..

You might want to screw some wheels on the side of the stand where they don't touch the ground until you lean it, then act like a 2 wheeler,

Just make sure the anvil is attached very well to the stand and you can stick a long piece of pipe in the hardier hole to use as a handle to move it.

gomer394 (author)trknust2017-01-23

Thanks for the kind words and the excellent suggestions-I like the idea of a wheeled cart! I'm pretty happy with the weight, though I'm still trying to decide how to secure it to the stump. I might just use some flat bar and wood screws across the base.

kevinhog (author)2017-01-23

I'de like to make it but I just don't think my welding skills are up to the task. If you counted the hours, materials, electricity and grinding disk costs, would you do it again?

gomer394 (author)kevinhog2017-01-23

Yeah I think I would-I would build the body the same, but maybe do the shoulder a little different-run some 1"plate horizontally across the whole thing

sorrewll (author)kevinhog2017-01-23

This would be a great project to work on welding skills you most definitely get some practice and that how you learn. if it breaks grind it and weld it back. you will just keep getting better. Good luck!

mary popp (author)2017-01-22

Looks great! What are the dimensions? HXWXL Thanks MP

gomer394 (author)mary popp2017-01-23

Thanks! Top plate is 14 x 4 x 1/2", 23" end to end, 9 1/2 inches tall. I'm not with the anvil now, but I'm pretty sure the base plate was 9 x 7 x 1". Weighed in at about 106 lbs.

sorrewll (author)2017-01-23

NOT BAD NOT BAD AT ALL. Looks like a good idea for our next project. Ofcourse we have all materials with full machining capabilties and some very eager students. this will serve as a great blueprint. EXCELLENT JOB its not always about the cost .You cannot put a price on pride. Stay creative gomer.

UnCivilEngineer (author)2017-01-19

In a few words, "OUTSTANDING, My Man, OUTSTANDING. HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE ALL OTHERS every step along the way, from inception, materials, assembly, immaculately welded and shaped, even protective finish and perfectly mounted. The only thing missing is the huge, dense shade tree! You successfully meld together need, availability, recycled materials, creativity, great respect of the past, your accomplished skill and knowledge of welding, and an innate ability of building from the ground up to unite both pleasing traditional form, unquestionable utility, at exceedingly low cost, yet providing astounding benefit and value. In a phase, You DEAD ON, NAILED IT, IN EVERY ASPECT!!!
Any idea of its completed weight? (pounds, tons, kg, or tonnes)
You obviously have high carbon (possibly alloy), machine-surfaced, case-hardened steel balls and flux running through your veins. Be proud, EXCEEDINGLY PROUD of your accomplishment and achievement!

gomer394 (author)UnCivilEngineer2017-01-19

Ha! Great comment, thanks-this one got read aloud to the fellas at work! To answer your question, this thing ended up weighing in at about 106 lbs. I didn't do any weight equations before starting, I was just hoping for something between 85 and 120 so I could move it in and outside. Thanks again for the awesome words!

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