Anvil Stand - Pt. 2 - Proper Working Height

About: Benjamin Carpenter is an Interactive Artist/Blacksmith/Fabricator/Teacher who works in the space between our industrial heritage and the forward momentum of contemporary media. Working at the Lost and Found...

In part 1, I discussed how I built my most recent anvil stand. Now I would like to go into some more depth about one particularly important element about anvil stands - the proper working height. 

Here is how to find it:

1. Stand up straight and let your arms rest comfortably by your sides.
2. Make a fist and measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of your closed hand.
3. This number should be the height of the face of your anvil. 

The reasoning behind this is related to the geometry of the anvil and hammer surfaces as you bring them together by hammering. An anvil at the proper height will receive hammer blows that fall flat to its surface. If the Anvil is too low, the hammer will fall at an angle. If the face is too high, it will produce an angle in the opposite direction. The trouble here is that angled blows create dents in your work, which can be annoying and difficult to clean up. Working at an anvil of improper height will also force you to compensate by changing your body posture. This can be uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your body and your work. 

So, if you are getting started in the world of metal work, then take the time to make the right adjustments while setting up your anvil. It will save you a lot of trouble in the future and reduce your learning curve. 

-Stay Tuned

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    6 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Knuckle height is best is you have striker or do a lot of sledgehammer work. Since most smiths work alone nowadays, people riskgetting back problems due anvil face being too low.
    Wrist height seems to work better for most lone work. Having a separate striking anvil at knuckle height would be the ideal setting.


    2 years ago

    I was just about to build a stand for my Granpa's depression era railroad tie anvil and was wondering just how high to build the stand. Less than a minute later, there was your article! Thanks!

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    After seeing this I had to measure my anvil height. Perfect! I don't really do any blacksmithing on it though. Just the occasional cold disruption. Still a handy thing to have in my garage.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    And here I thought anvils were only for dropping on Wile E. Coyote's head from great heights....
    This is a useful thing to know. Sounds like a good technique for figuring workbench height as well...


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    For workbench height it depends on what kind of work you want to do. Heavy work is stand straight up and your palms should be comfortably flat on the top of the bench. Then as you do lighter work you raise the height of the bench accordingly.

    It is all based on leverage, and mass over the work etc. Of course with a low bench you're going to feel it in your back, but if you're doing heavy work that is to be expected.