Intro: Improvised Anvils
I have, in my previous instructible, addressed the issue of anvil snobbery. Imagine then, my surprise; when I found that complaining about it on the Internet had not made the problem go away. There are still a lot of people who just can't comprehend why we don't all just do what they did, and take advantage of some poor fellow didn't realize how much great Granpappys old Anvil was worth.
So, partially in a pure philanthropic spirit, and partially as a friendly slap to the face of the anvil snobs, I'm going to show you how to make a few simply dandy improvised anvils.
And anvil is in essence, a chunk. There are good anvils and bad anvils, simple anvils, or ones with lots of bells and whistles. But in the end, they all come down to a chunk of metal upon which to hit other chunks of metal, with a chunk of metal.
Some of these improvised anvils are kind of terrible, while some of them are in my opinion, comparable to real anvils. many of them though, are lacking in some way. Some of you might be disturbed by the lack of a conical horn on all of these designs. Well, rest assured that, in my not so humble opinion, the horn standard on most anvils is grossly overrated. No, the real bummer with all these designs is that they all lack a hardie hole(the square hole) and thusly, cannot be fitted with tools.
Step 1: An Addendum on ASO's(Anvil Shaped Objects)
You may have seen some of these cheap "anvils" at hardware stores or floating around eBay. You may think to yourself, as I did, " by Jove! A 55lb anvil for $60? I'd be a fool not to buy it!"
But just how good are these anvils? Well, for some frame of reference, the above pictures are before and afters of a dandy little anvil I got at harbor freight about 18 months ago.
You may note that the heel and two of the feet are completely broken off, the horn had to be extended because it was a useless piece of crap, and the face looks like it's been in use for a hundred years rather than one.
So, I'm not saying out right don't get one of these, I've done some of my best work on that thing. I am saying though, that as Anvils go, this is a useless chunk of cast-iron, and if there are any other options, you should go with those. yessiree, any OTHER OPTIONS.
My goodness, was that a Segway? I think it was.
Step 2: The Clothes Iron Anvil
they're fairly ubiquitous, cost about $15, and are easy to mount,
Disadvantages, they are not very big, and thusly bounce around, they are typically made from cast-iron, and thusly are prone to cracking.
To make it, first cut out the grip part of the handle. Then straighten out the two little bars you're left with, then simply hammer the thing down into a stump and you're ready to go.
Step 3: Cobblers Anvils
they are reasonably easy to find,
they are good for specialized forming, and work well for knife making.
they're very light in bouncy, and kind of tricky to secure. They can also be fairly expensive.
Step 4: The Strongmans Anvil
This is one of my favorites, and they are particularly wonderful if you can find one of those absurd 60 or 80 pound dumbbells. Advantages,
they are very solid, and are usually very reasonably priced, and you get 2 of em'.
Disadvantages, they are typically made pretty soft iron,and thus get dented up pretty easily.
To make it, it is cut the handle and half in the middle, then grind the two handle pieces to a point. Now you have 2 30lb stake anvils.
Step 5: The Anvil Ironically Made Out of a Hammer
I'm rather partial to these sorts of anvils as well. Often times people will simply give you broken off sledgehammer head, they're made from excellent spring steel, and if you set them properly they can be very solid.
Disadvantages, they've kind of a small anvil face, and if set improperly, are very wobbly.
Step 6: Slab Anvils
This is the sort of anvil I have used most extensively. I like 'em just because the materials are easy to get a hold of, and its easy to put 'em together once you've got 'em. The one in that picture is a piece of 1' mild steel, with a 1/4' piece of stainless welded on as the face, and a cute little horn and hardie hole welded on. To secure it, you can weld on some spike-legs, or just nail it down with some railroad spikes, if welding's not an option.
A rail-road tie plate, if you can find one, works beautifully for these, And I'm gonna go out on a limb, and say that these are some of the best improvised anvils out there.
Step 7: The Chunk Anvil
Now, this may be a difficult concept, but you can figure it out, I believe in you. In layman's terms, you find a chunk of steel, and you use it as an anvil.
I can't really give too many specifics, as each one of these will be different. One of the best anvils I own is a chunk anvil. One of the worst Anvils I own is also a chunk anvil. The first three pictures up there detail the making of one of my finest anvils, which I believe is part of a train I found in the Ohio river.
Step 8: Anvils of Stone
I almost did not include this page because of all the irritating comments I know I'm going to get about it. To placate some of those before there asked, no, it will not explode. It will at worst crackle bit if you use a porous stone that was recently rained on. And yes, it's going to leave a rough surface finish, and yes it is prone to cracking.
That said, I've hammered out steel on a block of limestone before, and you know what? It worked just fine. Folks back in the olden days forged iron blooms on granite slabs, as back then a good anvil was almost as expensive as it is today, and they made some pretty cool stuff on those rocks.
So, while stone anvils suck and should only be used as a last resort, they CAN be used.
(POST SCRIPT, AND DISCLAIMER: The pictures of the dumbbell, the stone anvil, the monkey, and a couple of the chunk anvil pictures are not mine. I know how emotional scarring it can be if someone uses pictures you took, that were on google images, for a non-profit article, without express permission.)