You Too Can Make an Anvil

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Introduction: You Too Can Make an Anvil

About: Just another gear head who loves to make and fix stuff. I am a professional design engineer by day and love to create works of industrial art most of the night! My lifetime goal is to use my God given skills…

I have always enjoyed working with metals especially heating them up and pounding into usable shapes. When the show Forged in Fire came out it reignited my interests and I began to experiment with forging steels even more. As my skills progressed I realized i needed a better anvil than my old stump topped with a steel plate. I searched the market for used anvils and the prices blew me away. There was no way I could tell wifey that I needed to spend $2000 for a block of steel to pound on, she would tell me to pound sand! It was at that point I realized if I could forge a knife, why not construct my own anvil. The light went on and this is how i did it.

Be sure to VOTE for "YOU CAN MAKE AN ANVIL" in the Build a Tool Contest!

Step 1: There Is an Anvil Hidden in That Steel Block

Upon researching commercially made anvils I found there was nothing exotic about them, other than their size. Basically a good anvil is made from a soft base steel and has a hardened top feature. This can be accomplished by stacking up dimensional steel to form such a base and adding a tool steel top. I started with a piece of 1018 CR steel found in a scrap yard that measured 4" x 4" x 52" long. This allows enough material for a standard sized 220lb. blacksmith style anvil to be constructed. I then procured a piece of S7 tool steel for the top cap plate, it measured 1/2" x 4" x 18".

Alternatives could include 4" or 6" round CRS or A36 and the anvil could be made in nearly the same way.

Step 2: Tools Needed

You can do this using only a welder, sawzall, drill, grinder(s) and patience.

Luckily I had at my disposal an 18" Grob Bandsaw and Bridgeport Mill which made the job progress much faster, but these machines are not absolutely necessary and it can be done without them.

Step 3: Laying Out the Block to Optimize the Anvil Size

As the old saying goes, "measure twice, cut once". Know where you are going before cutting. Take the steel chunk(s) you will be using and determine the best way to stack them up to get the largest anvil possible. I started with the top as I knew it was the most important. I wanted at least an 8" horn, and about 22"-24" wide overall on the top. Given this, I marked it out on the steel and then adjusted the mid and base to best suit supporting the top.

Step 4: Cutting and Dicing

After I was happy with the parts layout I began cutting them into rough form. I did this using an industrial bandsaw, but the same can be done using a sawzall and a few new blades. I actually tried making a couple cuts using the sawzall as examples for this Instructable and to prove to myself this was possible. Using the sawzall actually went much easier than I expected, so dont be afraid to try it!

Step 5: Making Chips and Forming Parts

The bulk of the time required to make the anvil was consumed in cutting out the parts and adding features such as the Hardy Hole and 1/2" piercing hole.

After getting each piece cut to length I started on the top by cutting the horn angles. The horn is roughed out by cutting three angles. The actual degree of angle will depend on the steel you start with and the length you desire it to be. Since this is for your personal use be creative, make it work for you!

The Hardy hole was made by drilling the four corners 1/8" first, then center drilled it and finished using a 1" bit, then using the mill I connected the dots and squared the sides to form a 1" square hole. (The finished dim was 1.010" which worked perfect, the Hardy fit snug but could still be removed) Your Hardy hole can suit you and does not have to be 1" if you have tools that are different. Again make this feature to what suits you.

I added some additional features as well such as clamping holes and bending pin holes to the sides. These are simply bonus features and you can do without them.

Step 6: Grind Time

Now the fun begins. Grinding all the parts to make them fit and be aesthetically attractive. The horn can get to be addictive. I found myself spending too much time making it perfect and had to remind myself this is an anvil and will get beat to heck! No need for absolute mirror perfection on the grinds.

Step 7: Welder Up

Now that all parts are ground to near finished state, its time to weld it all together.

I used a Miller 350P welder and set the induction to "0" so that the bead was hot and flat. Each part I put a 1/2" x 45 degree bevel on the edges to be welded s so that i could get a hot, deep and wide weld. The same results could be made using any welder and multiple passes if necessary. The load on the welds are minimal since they are all compressive loads.

Step 8: Adding the Tool Steel Top Plate

Tool steel can be a tricky one to weld, but it can be done. I used S7 tool steel which is a very good choice when it comes to shock loads which is exactly what an anvil sees. Alternatives can be H13, A2, or even one of the "O" series of tool steels if its all you can find. Alternatives to welding the plate to the top block can be flat head socket screws, blind or through dowels, roll/spring pins or plug welding. These were in the back of my mind for backup plans should the perimeter welds fail or cause issue. The good thing is that they can be added after the fact if welding doesnt turn out for you.

I first machined the Hardy and piercing hole into the S7 to match the top form. Before welding I ensured that all features were in perfect alignment using the Hardy hole and 1" square CRS pin. Check and double check these fits now!

To weld any tool steel it must first be preheated. I waited until my wife was gone and using her kitchen oven, placed the tools steel on the rack and set it to 485 degrees, (485 because my target welding temp was 450 and it is cold in Indiana and I had to get the TS from the house to the shop, thus I knew it would cool off). I allowed it to be in the oven for 90 mins, (while I welded everything else up first) before welding it to the top form.

Do not allow the welded parts to cool too quickly. I used a LP brush burning torch to control the cool off post welding. Allow for 3-4 hours for the weldment to return to room temperature. The slower the better to prevent cracking of the joint.

Step 9: Finish Grinding and Paint

After the weldment has cooled its time to clean it up and add some paint. I chose to leave the horn and top edge bare steel but did add a lanolin oil to them to prevent rusting.

As a final touch I added my shop logo and "MADE in USA" to the sides.

Step 10: Final Results, I Have a New Anvil

The entire project took about 32 hours of work and the results far exceeded my expectations. Using a 3 lb hammer the anvil responds with a nice ring and surprisingly strong rebound. It feels as good or better than my buddies old commercially made anvil (hes wants to trade now...) and I can say I made it.

Now its your turn, you can do it too.

Be sure to VOTE FOR THIS ANVIL PROJECT in BUILD A TOOL Contest

Thank you and best wishes for all your projects!

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    85 Discussions

    0
    MikeTheDesignerBell

    Not bad! Nice to see i'm not alone in looking at things and thinking 'there's something in there'... love it. Keep it up man, your clamp's cool too. I recently welded up a pretty sweet stainless hack saw from a few spare pieces of tubing, inspiring me to upload it.. keep posting & inspiring dude!

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 8 months ago

    Thanks for your time and compliments! Keep up the good work in making and if I can ever help drop me a note! Be happy to! Best wishes to you in all your projects.

    0
    monk45
    monk45

    8 months ago on Introduction

    the coolest ever project i've seen ! i have an old anvil, but was thinkin of a way to create a better horn. one that could be used instead of the orriginal, when such was needed. portable if you like. this project you shared gave me enuff to get me started on making a portable, longer horn.
    the instruction, from start to finish, is very good. i thank you for takin the time to produce and share this. monk

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 8 months ago

    Monk, Thank you for your kind words. I am very glad I was able to provide some details and inspiration to help you make/modify your anvil! Best wishes!

    1
    allangee
    allangee

    Question 1 year ago

    What was your total cost?

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    Since it was all industrial scrap the cost of material was very low.

    1
    allangee
    allangee

    Reply 1 year ago

    "Low" to my CEO boss is different than "low" to the guy who empties my wastebasket every night. :)

    How much did the scrap yard charge?

    3
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well, the thing weighs about 230 lbs, therefore call your local scrap yard or local steel supplier (some have "drops" you can buy at a fraction of retail cost) such as ALRO or Ryerson and ask a price for that much scrap carbon steel, it will be in $x.xx/lb. Then multiply that price times the 230, add about $15 for welding wire, grinding discs and other consumables and there you go. The bottom line is that it cost me pennies on the dollar.

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello DavidF15.
    Really this project wasn't about the cost or not being able to purchase a commercially made anvil. Rather it was about showing that anyone can make a reasonable tool that is ordinarily thought of as not realistic to make (in this case a full sized anvil) at a cost that is achievable if one is vigilant about watching for opportunity (for makers this is materials). My point in this instructable was to inspire makers to think outside the box and to give insight and confidence into ways to achieve a perceived insurmountable goal. Thank you for your comments and viewing!

    1
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    Your prices are right on as for cost of raw materials. Luckily due to my day job I have alot of access to various tool steels and carbide plate so getting the tool steel wasnt an issue. It is out there if you know where to look. Examples are tool shops with drops or if they have a job coming in needing tool steel they may order extra and sell you the drop if they knew before ordering. One other option is to watch the scrap yards for "T" series tool steel, I recommend T2 for sure aka "tank armor". It is an excellent choice to use for an anvil top and is much more prevalent at the yards if you know what to look for. Best wishes and thanks for the comment.

    0
    charger38rt
    charger38rt

    1 year ago on Step 9

    Nice job but 32 hours at say $50//hr is $1600 plus cost iof steel. Could have bought a beaut anvi for $2000?

    0
    BigAl6670
    BigAl6670

    Reply 1 year ago

    Could have bought a beaut anvil, sure. Where's the fun in that? If i spend 32 hrs creating something that i get great satisfaction from and enjoy that feeling every time i use it thats 32 hours exchanged for an outcome thats priceless.
    Great anvil!

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    This is true. This wasnt about the money though. It was all about doing what few ever do and doing it well.
    Thanks for your comment.

    4
    Khovet1
    Khovet1

    Reply 1 year ago

    Can't buy one like that at ANY price!

    1
    kanga-doo
    kanga-doo

    1 year ago

    As many of the excellent forums (see anvilfire for example) on blacksmithing have indicated time & again it is not worth making an anvil when taking into account time, materials & energy & heat treatment finishing.

    1
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    For me its all about doing it... as the saying goes, "its not the kill, but the thrill of the chase". In other words the thrill is all in the build!

    0
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    The bigger topic here is, my Instructable being quite unique got you to read it. Mission accomplished! :)

    1
    tonyhill
    tonyhill

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comment. To each his own as for what their time is worth, but for me to spend 30 hours to save even $1000 is time well spent. This project wasnt about the money though, it was about doing what many said, or thought to be, nearly impossible. Not only was it possible, the result is fantastic and far exceeds my expectations!

    3
    Khovet1
    Khovet1

    Reply 1 year ago

    Sometimes, you know, its just very valuable to complete a project like this and know you can do it. Besides, this anvil is one of a kind. It has bragging rights. So WHO CARES if it took some time. BIG DEAL!