A Blacksmith's anvil is by far their most useful tool, arguably even more useful than Forge itself.Unfortunately, as anyone who has done any blacksmithing work knows, good anvils are just horrendously, obscenely expensive. And so, to kick off my series of blacksmithing projects, I'm going to show you how to make an anvil that would be the envy of Thor himself.

Step 1: A Note on Concrete Filled Anvils

I have naught be the utmost respect for professional blacksmiths. That said, some of them can be real snobs when it comes to anvils, looking down on concrete filled anvils and generally anyone not willing to dole out a thousand dollars or more on a super anvil forged from the heart of a nutron star. To be fair though, they do have some valid points. Anvilfire.com has some great points on why not to use a concrete filed anvil. Concrete is the worst sort of friend, it appears strong, but as soon as it really matters, it will fail you.
The trick then, is not to rely on it too much. You want to build an anvil that would work even without the concrete. It is there mainly to add weight and solidity, and deaden noise.

Step 2: Acquiring Materials/Skills

Now for this particular anvil, the hardest part to find will be the main plate for the top. On this design I need a plate of steel that is 1 inch thick, 8 inches wide, 18" long, Along with some assorted plate and pipe. For the shell, i'm going to use about 16 ft.² of 16 gauge sheet steel. I'm going to use a whole lot of rebar to reinforce the shell. for the filler, I'm going to use about 640 pounds of concrete.

As for tools, you're going to need,
Some sort of welder,
An angle grinder,
Something to cut the sheet steel with, such as an acetylene torch, plasma cutter, tin snips(not advisable), a bandsaw, or a crap-ton of cutting weels for the angle grinder.

The main other thing that you need, is to be a competent welder. I repeat, this is no beginners welding project, you need to be able to make a weld that can be hammered on for hours without breaking.

It should be noted that I got all the steel for this thing(accepting the top plate) for free as scrap, and you could probably do the same.

Scrapyards are a great place to get the main plate. I got one that is 1 1/2" x8"x 36" for $30. The ancient, mystical redneck junkyards one sometimes finds in the woods are a great source, or ask people if they have any old doodads you can salvage steel from.

Step 3: Designing Your Anvil

The nice thing about making your own anvil, is you can make it literally however you want. It can be as whimsical or as practical as you like

I would suggest drawing out your own, but feel free to use my schematics if you like(but no plagiarism please). They're not extensive or anything, but you're a clever fellow, you can figure it out.

PS, if you ask VERY politely, I can make some better blueprints.

Step 4: Make a Cardboard Model

Whenever you're making anything out of sheet metal, it is advisable to make a cardboard model. Always remember, cardboard is much cheaper than steel, and if it won't work with cardboard, it won't work with steel.

Step 5: Cut Out the Pieces

This one's pretty self explanatory, trace your patterns on the steel, and cut em out

Step 6: Weld'n Time

Weld, Weld, And Weld Some More, And One You've Finished, Ha Ha Just Kidding, Keep On Welding.
Basically, you just slap it together the way you did with the cardboard model, but with steel.
Now for one of the most important steps, the inside supports. You want at least five really heavy duty legs on the bottom of the main plate, with a few more on the horn. Then just go crazy and weld rebar onto every available surface, there really is no such thing as going overboard on this step.

Post script: When you're doing anything with the top plate, remember to turn the power as high as it will go, and set the wire feed fairly low.

Step 7: Fill'er Up!

This step should be fairly self-explanatory, just flip it upside down and fill that thing up with concrete.

The main other thing is to make sure that you have it positioned so that once it is full you can simply roll it into place, where it will be permanently.(you can't move this thing when it's full, just don't even try)

Step 8: Make It Perty

This step is grueling, but simple. just grind until you've burned out the motors in all your angle grinders,(that's how I knew I was done) and depleted some ozone with all that spray paint.

Step 9: BEHOLD!

And lo, amid a wash of fire and smoke, where bolts of lightning flash and steel flows like water, I labored. And finally, at dusk on the fifth day, my toils were ended.
That day, Vulcan threw his hammer to the ground in dismay, for he knew he was bested. That day, the ringing hammers of the forges of heaven lay still in respect.
I heeded them not, but instead gazed in awe at what I had wrought, and saw that it was good, nay, it was friggin fabulous!
<p>Hello.</p><p>Very nice project.</p><p>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? </p><p>Thanks</p><p>Mike</p>
<p>It's held up quite nicely, especially on the front half, where i faced it with spring steel. The mild steel portion has gotten a bit beaten up, but that was to be expected. The bigger problem has been the rebound, which has deteriorated somewhat. I suspect the anchoring legs have started to work themselves loose from the surrounding concrete. I've actually restored a nice old 120 pounder since then, that I now use as my main anvil. nowadays, I use the big one more as a swage block, or when I'm working with strikers. </p>
This should be called an In-de-structable.
<p>Hi, I want to make an anvil for my boyfriend and I so we can forge. Would it be possible to get sheet metal and shape it into an anvil welding it together except for the top? Then to have a lot more metal to melt down pouring it inside of the base/mold and allowing it to harden by dousing it with water? </p>
Well, what would perhaps work is to build your Anvil shell much as I describe in the instructible, only of a more traditional anvil size. Then, you would essentially use the anvil shell as a crucible to melt your first 15 pounds or so of zink. Then pour the rest of it in in layers maybe 15 pounds at a time or so. <br>I would like to stress though, that if you're filling your anvil with metal, then it is imperative that your welding be of the highest order; as, due to shrinkage, it will create a severe strain on all the joints.
That is what I was thinking of doing.
<p>If you do melt and fill the anvil with lead or zinc PROTECT your self specifically your lungs. You might see if you can get zinc or lead ballast in shot or easy to trim pieces so you could avoid melting it altogether. I have been using an anvil shaped object made by a friend. he filled the stand with lead shot. it weighs at least 3 hundo... works like a charm.</p>
<p>I get a little irritated by everyone going on about how &quot;YOU MUST PROTECT YOUR SELF FROM ZINC FUMES!!&quot;, I mean sure, it'll give you metal fume fever if you breath it in all day, but it's not any more dangerous than any of the other fumes coming of your forge. just do it outside and you'll be fine. And frankly, if your forge is indoors then you got bigger problems. This zinc fume terror is an unintentional red herring that distracts people from worse problems. You know what worse problem comes to mind? Lead.</p><p>Lead is basically Satan in metal form: It is a slow, insidious poison that builds up inside you, drives you insane, then kills you slowly. So it scares me a bit to hear people talking about how they're gonna melt down 60 lbs of old wheel weights to fill up their anvil wit. I would suggest not messing around with lead any more than you absolutly have to. </p>
<p>I had an idea of finding some steel plate maybe 1-1/2&quot; thick and cutting out an anvil shape then doing it to maybe 6 more pieces exactly like the first, making maybe 4 or 5 holes in the middle of each piece so they all line up, bolting all 6 pieces together, and having a really good welder weld the edges all the way around with a good hard weld rod. then buy another slab of steel about 2&quot; thick to make the top surface and just grind the horn round. it may cost some $$ for the steel plate, and for welding and cutting it out but it will be less than a real anvil and solid steel.</p>
<p>I am just trying to keep it from being hollow as well. I drink a lot of sodas, so maybe just filling it with aluminum and having the steel base as you were planning would work. </p>
<p>packing it with sand may work too. I think the only truly important thing is to make sure the striking surface is flat and is hardened so it stays that way. weight should make much of a difference because you don't use it for anything but a striking surface. yeah you don't want it to sound like a gong or bell when hit but just about any hard, flat surface that doesn't bounce or jump around when you hit it will work. I have ben using a short piece of Rail Road track and its works, its just way to small...lol</p>
<p>An Inspirational piece of steelwork! Congratulations ! Nice photo!</p>
The..best..post..ever!! Would you please send me blueprints?? Keep in mind I'm on a Jesus budget (I can only afford bread and water) lol
<p>That's awesome! Love the lightning bolts.</p>
<p>this is a great Idea... and I agree on the insane cost of an anvil... also next on the insane cost list is a good Blacksmiths vice! lol </p>
No kidding. I'm getting ready to make, and make an instructible on, making a goose-neck post vice. It's a tough protect, but I've seen it done.
<p>Awesome, cant wait to see what you come up with.</p>
<p>I also had an idea of just finding a really thick slab of steel like 4 or 6 inches thick and laying that on top of a good sturdy (thick) wood table and beating metal on that. </p><p>Some guy on craigs list last year was selling a 6&quot; thick solid steel table top he used as an anvil, said it worked great! lol </p>
Yup. A slab of steel secured down to a solid base makes a great anvil. You can even forge, and weld on a little horn, and a piece of heavy square tube as a hardie hole. <br>Also, holy crap! 6&quot; plate? I wish I could get ahold of some of that!
<p>Yeah imagine trying to get it on and off a truck? lol </p><p>Near where I live there is a steel yard, </p><p><a href="http://logansteel.com/?page_id=365" rel="nofollow">http://logansteel.com/?page_id=365</a></p><p> who sells everything from plate to round bar to square bar and everything else in between, they also make custom shapes and do cutting... they have a big tent building out in back where they sell all the cut offs and short pieces and all sorts of other scraps and parts and I find some good stuff there. The pics on the site above don't do it justice. The amount of &quot;Stuff&quot; they have is pretty good. lol even used welding leads and such.. </p><p>Last trip there, I found what looks like it was a piece of solid rectangle stock that was cut so it now looks almost like a solid thick piece of H beam with one of the flat sides cut off...so it resembles a T now...lol a really, really thick T. In gonna weld it onto a good solid piece of flat stock and bore holes in the corners to bolt it onto my bench as a bench anvil. </p>
<p>Hi <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/Maximillian+The+Ruthless/" rel="nofollow">Maximillian The Ruthless</a>, a very interesting instructable that was very well written. Obviously making a blacksmiths anvil is not for everyone, but given the price of an anvil this does provide a welcome alternative. Thank you for posting this Instructable.</p><p>On a side note did you know that large metal working lathes were made from concrete during World War One in the U.S. and that they were accurate enough to machine artillery shells?</p><p>I think that <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/lrockwell1/" rel="nofollow">lrockwell1</a>'s idea of a sand [and aggregate] filled anvil is feasible as it would only require a solid bottom and a filling point at the top with perhaps an empty point near the bottom.</p><p>I am surprised that you havent welded tool holder brackets to your anvil, but they maybe in its future.</p><p>That beak on your anvil looks dangerously sharp, you may want to shorten and round over that beak before it does you an injury.</p>
In short no.(in answer to Irockwell1) The sand simply wouldn't lock down and anchor the support legs and rebar the same way that concrete does. Additionally, I suspect that the sand would settle over time and create gaps near the top, which is the worst place to have gaps. With some extreme modifications, it might be feasible, but for all the effort, it would be probably best to just stick with concrete.
<p>Is there a reason the concrete couldn't be substituted with sand? Obviously the design would have to be modified to retain the sand, but other than that could it work well?</p>
<p>I appreciate the humor. And looking forward to more of your work!</p><p>And you have actually stayed in the tradition of blacksmiths everywhere. Make do, till you can make better! As an added bonus, if you temporarily re-purpose this into a Halloween decoration( for your haunted forge)...Being filled with several hundred pounds of concrete will discourage metal thieves! </p><p>That being said, filling with aluminium is a HORRIBLE idea. I haven't actually done the math nor the acoustic testing, but you would likely have made a bell, or at least a garden sculpture, at that point. after the twelfth hammer stroke on your new steel/aluminium thingie, a half mile off you would hear &quot;And all is well!&quot; </p><p>You are effectively just building an artistic surround for your plate anvil(defined by that which acts against the opposite side of your hammer strike). Bolting it, or insetting it into a nice solid wooden stump would not only be faster, but cheaper, and better in almost every way. The only loss would be the &quot;would you look at THAT&quot; factor.</p><p>NEVER EVER EVER &quot;paint&quot; your anvil. Just saying, the second hot metal touches that paint, the visuals are ruined, and you have toxic paint smoke billowing up into your lungs.</p><p>And now, lessons from the welders! If you have to grind your welds to make them look good, you are a grinder, not a welder! :-) Seriously, practice your welding! and make a better anvil while you are at it! Get a load of hard facing rod(or wire, if you are learning wire feed) and just weld pass after pass on the top of your plate. back and forth, till you are good! Now you are a better welder, your plate is twice as thick(or more if you learn as slowly as I do) AND it is now hardfaced for long service life under harsh conditions!</p><p>Just to give you a reference point, My &quot;BIG&quot; anvil is a 125 year old 250 pounder that I scored for $0.50 a pound. Had some damage to one face edge, but I work around that part easily enough. $1 to $2 per pound is about average for a used anvil, in my searching. My Travel anvil is a piece of railroad rail, oxy-fuel cut to shape, ground hardened and tempered. When I want to set up shop, I remount it to a fresh log, clamp it to a sturdy workbench, or even clamp it in a heavy vice. The rest of the time, it sits in my tool box, with my other hammers and such. Being under 50 lbs, I DO have to make sure my metal is always screaming! When the yellow fades, back in the fire it goes. otherwise, stuff just bounces around. Finally, my FIRST anvil was...a chunk of obtanium. I THINK it might have been a 90 degree drive adapter from an old tractor, but it had some kind of steel like casing, a nice solid round bar sticking out the side, and 4 bolt holes to lag it onto a stump with. I have even seen Youtube videos of Irish historical reenactors that forged wrought iron blooms on STONE anvils. Using other stones as hammers!</p>
<p>neat idea. i've never heard of a concrete filled anvil before. One thing that might be good to do is have a concrete vibrator which would help release any air bubbles that are trapped behind the supports and such. I wouldn't expect many people to have this tool so I would suggest filling it up in 1/8 increments and shaking it if you can or banging on the supports and sides with a hammer till you stop seeing bubbles come up. It would help improve the strength even more.</p>
As for filling it with aluminum, it would work but I think it's kind of overkill. Now, what would be ideal is to preheat the top plate of the anvil to nearly red hot, then pour in about 30 pounds of zinc, as that will actually bond to the steel. Then pour in your aluminum, which should bond to the zink. This is of course well beyond my capabilities to do, to say nothing of the thousand-plus pounds of aluminum it would take.<br>I don't think it's really necessary though, under the hammer, this anvil feels just as solid as any, well, actually solid ones that I've used.
Wow, I really appreciate all the positive comments everyone. <br>I'm kinda astounded at how many times this thing has been viewed already.
<p>Nicely done! I appreciate the sense of humor in the writing too--refreshing after reading too many not-so-well-written I'bles. (To be fair, some of those are written by folks in a language they weren't born into)</p><p>Alas, my steel welding skills are nonexistent, so I'll just wait for a mystical confluence of a) a windfall of cash, and b) the availability of a super anvil forged from the <br>heart of a nutron star.</p>
So cool and vintage chic!
Great design,awesome instructable.<br>I applaud you sir.
<p>not bad for a first attempt. should suffice for a hobby smith for a couple years.</p>
<p>Could you make an aluminum foundry and put all those beer cans to good use and fill with aluminum instead of concrete? Would take longer and probably be done in layers but would be solid metal.</p>

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