Railway Iron Anvil





Introduction: Railway Iron Anvil

Inspired by a few designs on here and elsewhere I decided to try and make an anvil using a bit of scrap iron I found on the farm. Even if it's practical application is limited it was still fun to make, and at worst I can dismantle it and I will have a couple of attractive doorstops!!

What you need

A scrap bit of railway iron, I would say at least 30 cm long to start with
Tek screws
Optional - tree trunk (and saw to cut shelf), mounting plate from scrap steel, small castor wheels


Grinder - I used a 125cm and 230 cm grinder to cut the horn
Die grinder or files to smooth cuts
oxy torch to cut curves, or find a mate who is happy to do it for you.
grinder flap discs - I used 40,60,80,120
Optional - welder

Step 1:

This Instructable involves using angle grinders, oxy torches and welders and assumes that the reader can operate this equipment safely.

Get your bit of iron and roughly mark out your design, Then get an oxy torch and cut it to your liking. Personally, I have no idea how to use an oxy so asked someone who does to use their equipment to do it for me. I did initially also try and cut the curves progressively with a grinder which didn't look too bad but I decided to to get them tidied up with the oxy.

At this stage I had tried shaping the horn by using a grinder but it doesn't look that great.

Step 2:

Next step is to just tidy up the oxy cuts which were pretty jagged. I used a die grinder to get rid of the worst of this but a hand file would work as well

Step 3:

I decided that I didn't like the horn so used a cutting disc on both my angle grinders to re shape it.

I then decided to tidy up the top and ended up going a mad on the finish using the grinder flap discs - not sure how long it will last!! I started with 40 and went through to 120 grit.

One side of the horn has a sharp edge and the other is rounded

Step 4:

I probably shouldn't have done this before I polished it up, but I decided to

1. Drill a hole in the anvil
2. Drill some mounting holes - in hindsight, bigger holes and using better bolts would have probably looked a lot better than tek screws.....

I then decided to take inspiration from another Instructable I found (https://www.instructables.com/id/Railway-Line-Anvil) and a couple of others I found on the net to finish things off and provide a bit more flexibility.

I mounted the anvil in a tree trunk together with another bit of iron mounted vertically - the vertical iron is welded to a scrap of steel to provide more fixing points to the tree trunk. I then put wheels on the back so that it was portable around the shed when tipped backwards......

I found that the vertically mounted iron is much quieter when being hit.

Hope this is useful to someone.

3 People Made This Project!


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49 Discussions

that's about the toughest metal I've ever cut. that's as good as its going to get lol tada


Don't "borrow" (steal) from an active section of track, sure way to
cause a derailment disaster. (A Federal crime in the US and Canada, and most countries.) And if you can carry a full length section of track, your name is Kal-El, and you're from Krypton...

If you buy sections of rail from scrap
dealers, you can (and SHOULD) get a receipt.

Used railway spikes are
available in bulk to small quantities from a few dealers on eBay, and
can be used if heated in a charcoal or wood fire, adding carbon to make
blades and tools...

1 reply

На железной дороге)))) берёте ключ,пилу и вперёд)))

call round scrap yards, specialist scrap steel merchants and also check out farming mags/ websites.

Good luck

What a great Instructable. I have had a 16 inch (40mm) piece of RR rail for years and used it as an anvil numerous times and thought about cutting/grinding it into more of a traditional anvil shape. It looks excellent! Guess I better get out my torch and grinder.


3 years ago

awesome job, I've been looking for a nice chunk of rail to do this. Great instructable.

Rails are made of a carbon steel that can be hardened. I had an inquiry about making chasing tools from mild steel. Mild steel is not the best material for that. If you look up Superquench in the internet you can get a formula that will make it fairly hard, but the tools will not be as good as other tools. Joining SOFA if you live in the Quad State Area is a good thing. Many people there can tell you how to make the tools, but overhead door spring steel is suitable for small chasing tools. Straighten, heat to dull red and cool slowly. cut to length and grind tools. If forged they should be heated again to a dull red and cooled slowly. Heat the front of the tool just hotter than where it loses magnetism and quench vertically in oil, then polish and heat to a dark blue or put in an oven or taster oven at 400 F. for an hour and turn off the oven and let them slowly cool. Polish and you will have good tools if they are properly shaped. SOFA members can show you just what to do.

1 reply

Well, my reply to someone below didn't transfer, but the gist of what I was trying to say is that you did a really nice job on the anvil!! Congrats!

Someone else was looking for rail pieces. You can often find them, and sometimes whole REAL anvils as well at farm/ranch auctions. I've seen 8 or so of them come up at auctions over the past few years here, in central Wyoming. Sometimes you can find already made tools, tongs pliers, scrolling forks, etc. at these auctions. A friend of mine went to an auction where he bought a whole box full of tools for me fo about 12 dollars. It was a steal! The tools when new would have cost 4 or 5 hundred dollars! You never know what you'll find at farm auctions. Sometimes things go for outrageously high prices and sometimes you'll be surprised by how little you spend for a whole pile of very useful used tools! Keep up the good work!

I think you have done a fantastic job on this. As someone who has also made one I can really appreciate the amount of work involved. I did not have access to a torch when I started mine but being bull headed as I am was determined and used only cut-off wheels and grinding wheel ( I have some bad ass ceramic based grinding wheel made by 3M). Nice job as well with mounting them to the stump. I had not considered mounting one upright like that. I like the way that it adds versatility to the set up. Nice job.

As an FYI this is generally only good for soft metals. An anvil generally must have a hardened work face to be practical. That doesn't mean this can't be used just that you'll spend more time beating the metal and reconditioning your anvil if you're going to work with it

6 replies

Do you suppose you can heat harden your anvil face just like you'd heat harden any mild steel?
Or is it so massive that you'd spend a fortune in gas just getting it up to temperature.
Somehow I am thinking that only the surface needs to brought up to temperature, and if steel is not ductile that could happen, but if it is like copper, without a kiln it could never happen.
Let me know what you think, I am really interested in making myself some raising stakes for hollow forming

you absolutely can harden the work surface of the track. As you stated it would require a massive amount of gas to bring it to a non magnetic state. I would suggest the use of coal with a blower or bellows of some fashion. Heat the track to a non magnetic state and quench just the work surface leaving the base to cool naturally. While you can't control how hard the surface will be or how deep it will harden it while the heat left in the lower portion will help to keep it durable. Yes there are more scientific ways to do this but this is a homemade anvil we are talking about and backyard metallurgy. It will work, I have seen the results firsthand.

The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alex Weygers, a fine book, shows how to harden the face of a rail anvil and make one. It's reasonably priced at places like Amazon. It was written as 3 books around 1970 or so.

I'm new to the use of Steel, mostly I use copper silver and gold, but I'd like to make some of my own tools.
I've seen chasing tools made from steel rod, I thought it was mild steel, but maybe I misheard.
The steel was heated up to a particular color to anneal it,
it was ground into shape, then heated to another color and quenched in water immediately to harden it.
I wondered if that sort of thing would work for this application.
I'll look up the book,
I'm also considering joining the Southern Ohio Founders and Forgers Assn. (SOFA)

Ive heard one way of achieving a hardened face on these railway anvils is to build up a layer of weld with a particular alloy "Arc/stick rod" to say 5mm thick then slowly grind it back to achieve a smooth surface .

You can weld on hard-facing rod. It takes a certain amount of time... BTW, you can't properly harden mild steel. There may be some way to case harden it but generally mild steel isn't used for applications where hardness is required.