How to Make an "anvil"




So you need an anvil. Whether it's for starting to get into blacksmithing or you just need something to bang on, here's how to make one.

The tools I used to make this were:

- Angle Grinder

- Sawzall/Portable bandsaw

- Metal Lathe (optional)

- Bucket of water

- Fire extinguisher

- Gloves

Materials Used:

- Some sort of big piece of steel (I used some a piece my school gave me from their old slip roller, but look around your scrap yard and you will find something)

- Sawzall Blades

- WD40 (any oil would work)

-Cutting wheel

- Grinding wheel

- Flap disk

- Wire Wheel

- Spray paint and primer

Disclaimer: You will be working with heavy metal and sparks that can and will start a fire. Never do this without someone you know somewhere near you and without safety precautions. Always be sure of what you are doing. If you aren't sure something is safe, ask someone else or DON'T DO IT. It is better to be safe than sorry. This is just a chunk of steel, it is not worth your life.

Step 1: Find Your Steel

I had some 3" x 5' round stock from a slip roller my school was scrapping and they let me have it. You can also find something in a scrap yard near you. Just remember to bring someone with you, these things are HEAVY.

Step 2: Fire Hazard

Before you start cutting, you need to make sure your work area is safe, especially if you are cutting with an angle grinder. I wet the entire area that I was working in but I still managed to set a piece of wood on fire with the sparks. Always have a fire extinguisher and some sort of water on hand to put out any fires.

Step 3: Start Cutting!

I used an angle grinder to cut most of the way through my piece, but since it was a 4 1/2" grinder, I couldn't get all the way through. I cut the rest of the way through with the sawzall. You can use anything you want to cut through this, it will just take varying amounts of time and effort. You could use a hack saw, sawzall for the whole thing, metal cutting chop saw (careful with this, I burned mine out by trying to cut through another piece this thick with my saw), angle grinder, portable bandsaw, oxy/acetylene, or whatever you have.

Step 4: Smooth the Surface

Since I have access to a lathe at my school, I had my teacher face it off. Our lathe was a little small for this and it ended up leaving the face only a little better than before, so I went back at it with a flap disk on the angle grinder. Again, you can use anything for this, from sandpaper to files to a surface grinder to a milling machine.

Step 5: Paint!

I cleaned off the rust with a wire wheel and then painted!

Step 6: Mount It

I chose to drill a hole in a stump that I had that was the same size as my piece of steel. I used a hole saw, forstner bits, drill bits, and paddle bits, as well as anything else I could find to make it fit.

Step 7: It's Done!

Now that this is done, head on to your next project! Let me know about any upgrades you think I could make in the comments.

Thanks for reading!



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    9 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Welcome to the world of ASO (anvil shaped objects). It has a long and glorious history.

    Here are the basics for a beginners ASO...

    1) Get it as large and heavy as you can. If you can easily move it without help, it is probably too light unless you are only going to be doing small knives.

    2) a FLAT surface is a must. Railroad rail anvils often work better with the train side down! Or even stood on end ( The "hardened face" of the rail is only work hardened from the trains rolling over it. 2 months of smithing on the flat side will do pretty much the same thing(but not as smooth an end product)

    3) The best you can get is probably good enough for now. Dense wooden stumps with nothing else CAN work OK as a temporary anvil, for some work. Dished stumps are about the ONLY good anvil for doing bowls, and rough forging plate armour. Add a plate of steel, and it becomes pretty darn good. Make that plate a block, and it works even better. There is even a youtube video of norse(swedish?) re-enactors forging billets of homemade iron on large stones, using wooden mallets as sledge hammers.

    4) Did I mention as large and heavy as you can? In general, you want your anvil to weight 10-20 times as much as the largest hammer you are going to use on it. (This is why jewelers can get away with little 1-2lb stainless steel anvils. Those little hammers are only 2-3 ozs.) But when in doubt, heavier is better.

    5) Hardened striking surface. Strong and hard, but not brittle.You are now approaching a 'real' anvil. unless you happen to find this in the junk yard, and it is JUST RIGHT... you are probably going to spend just as much getting this cut, ground, hardened and tempered, as you would have buying a nice used anvil on craigslist, or ebay.

    I have forged on closed vices, railroad anvils, broken truck axles, old busted farm anvils, random blocks of plate steel, brand new $1000 anvils... and when it was all said and done,the things that had the most impact on the finished project were my choice of hammer, my skill, and keeping the metal at the right temperature. The anvils just made it a little easier/more tedious.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    ASO stands for Anvil-Shaped-Object. These are cheap cast iron anvils that look like London pattern anvils but are no good for forging.
    Any solid mass that doesn't deform under the hammer and the workpiece is an anvil.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for the info! I actually used a piece of railroad track before I made this one, and before that, a little cast iron anvil that I believe came off of some sort of vise. Before that I just used my bench vise. This one was just my thinking of "Oh I have a bunch of huge heavy chunks of steel, why not make an anvil?" I actually only spent about 2-3 days working on this and it was all done for free.


    1 year ago

    I'm planning on doing something similar but with a piece of railroad track and a negative of the track carved into the log.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Awesome! I used a railroad track for a while, just flattened out a bit. This one weighs more and I can cut more pieces off and make different anvil tools with them


    Reply 1 year ago

    If you want to take it one step further, set it up right, and bed your ASO with lead. Just heat it up (carefully) and pour it down the hole. Not only will it add mass, you will also notice a lot less 'jump' when working on it. And less 'jump' means more of your effort is going into moving the hot metal, and less into moving the anvil.


    Reply 1 year ago

    I actually tried forging on this with a 4lb hammer a few days ago and it worked excellently! I made the hole in the stump tight enough that it actually didn't move around. Another reason I'm a little tentative about doing that is because I made another anvil tool that can fit into the stump. If I fill it with lead, I won't be able to get my anvil out and my fuller in.

    That is a good idea. I am going to share this with my wife. She has been wanting to get an anvil for metal working projects.


    1 year ago

    awesome project!