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Ever wanted to make a spoon ring, or other fun metalworking project, and found that you really needed something to hammer on? Something with a nice conical shape, doesn't need to be big... but it needs to be sturdy and smooth. A jeweler's anvil would sure be nice to have! But they don't grow on trees*...

I had that same problem. I did not have a jeweler's anvil. What I did have was plenty of second hand shops nearby, and when I visited them, I kept seeing old cobber's lasts there. They were often as cheap as 5 euros! Surely it must be possible to customise one into the shape I wanted?

Reader, I bought one. And I turned it into exactly the anvil I wanted. And it was easy and fun and you can do it, too!

* and for safety reasons, that might actually be for the best

Step 1: In Which the Last Comes First

First of all, you'll need a cobbler's last, also known as a shoemaker's last. They can often be bought for very little money. It doesn't have to be fancy, or any specific type. Just get yourself a last.

In the pictures, you'll see mine. It was made in Tegelen and the brand is De Globe. But that doesn't matter.

Tools:

  • Angle grinder with cutting disk and grinding disk
  • Power file or if you don't have one, angle grinder with flap disk
  • Vise

Safety gear:

  • Hearing protection
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Sturdy gloves
  • Dust mask

This project took me a couple of hours at most. It can certainly be done in a day.

Step 2: In Which Wheels Start Spinning

The first tool you'll need is your trusty angle grinder, equipped with a cutting disk (the thin one). Make sure the last is firmly placed in your vise, with the largest 'foot' on top and horizontal.
And wear your safety gear. Don't forget the dust mask or you'll be tasting and smelling iron for two days.

Start by marking two lines, as shown, that will eventually become the rough shape of your new anvil. Once you are happy with the lines, cut deeper. Tilt your angle grinder towards the center of the 'foot' so you'll be cutting diagonally; down and outward, not straight down. This brings you closer to the right shape and you'll need to cut less! Win-win, as they say.

Step 3: In Which More Sparks Fly

Once you have cut off both 'side flaps' of the foot, it's time to remove the cutting disk from the angle grinder and swap it for a grinding disc (the thicker kind where you use the side of the disc, not the edge). Use that to grind down the top edges of your newly formed pointy shape.

You want the shape to be more or less a hexagon if you look at it from a nose-to-nose position. Because eventually you'll want to end up with a circle, and a hexagon is not at all a bad step on the way there.

If you can get closer to that round shape while using the angle grinder, so much the better. You'll be saving yourself time on the next step.

Step 4: In Which the Power File Is Your Friend

Now it's time for the power file to finish things up! You're aiming for a round conical shape, so remove everything that isn't that.

A nice trick is to slide the hole in your cutting disk (sans angle grinder) around the pointy shape, and look at it head on so it's easier to see what needs to be removed still.

Keep at it until the whole 'beak' feels round and smooth. This took me no more than an hour and a half or so.

Step 5: In Which Things Come to a Pointy End

When is your anvil finished? When YOU feel that it is. This is your tool to use, you get to decide what it looks like.

Are you done? Congratulations! Now secure your anvil in a vise (or use a clamp or any other method), grab a nice spoon or fork and try it out. Go make some noise, and create something nice. Have fun!

<p>Excellent work! </p><p>Good eye for spotting what you needed in an old, discarded object, and then being able to modify it to make it a reality! Very inspiring, thank you :)</p>
<p>Thank you, kind sir!</p>
<p>Thanks!!!!! Excellent work!</p>
<p>Glad to hear that you like it!</p>
<p>looks awesome!!!!!!!!</p>
<p>Good recycling, but a cobblers last are getting rare to find. I think it would be easier to find a small anvil. I found one on Ebay second hand. Keep making tools and equipment. all the best</p>
<p>It might depend on location. Like I wrote in the I'ble, they are not rare here at all. If I wanted to, I could get ten of them by the end of the week, just by visiting some second hand stores. But things may very well be different where you are.</p>
<p>Very good idea. Thanks.</p>
<p>good idea.</p>
<p>Thx!</p>
<p>I have been looking for an anvil for my warm-glass benchwork for making bracelets and such. This looks much better than paying huge bucks for a jeweler's anvil that won't get a lot of use. (hmm, how much will the tools cost me to save money on the anvil??)</p>
<p>You only really need an angle grinder and some disks though, and angle grinders are IMMENSELY useful. So there's that...</p>
<p>We found a shoemaker's last a couple of years ago, and we've just been using it as a doorstop. This is a much better use for it...</p>
<p>I couldn't agree more, even if I tried with both hands.</p><p>Please show a picture when yours is done!</p>
<p>You are my new Hero (or Heroine, idk : D)</p>
<p>Thank you, what a lovely thing to say! Looking at your profile, it seems that you could surely use an anvil like this.</p>
<p>great idea, if you don't have a power file a portable belt sander also works great. I used mine when making a rail anvil and it gave a beautiful finish.</p>
<p>Yes, that sounds like it should work well. After all, the power file is just a very narrow belt sander.</p>
Beautiful. This is a great idea.
<p>Thanks, glad you like it!</p>
<p>You did a great job! I might have to make one for small detail forge work. I have never seen a power file before! that is very interesting tool. </p>
<p>Thank you! The power file is a great tool, it can do so many things. </p><p>I suppose that in this case, one could also use the angle grinder with a flap disk.</p>
<p>Not sure what for yet but I wants one!</p>
<p>As we all know, projects are just an excuse for getting spiffy tools. ;-)</p>

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Bio: I like to tinker. I'm a co-founder and active participant of my local hackerspace: Hack42 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. You can also find me ... More »
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