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Getting the most out of my anvil

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Ian Fifelski, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    Hey guys
    I just picked up a 105 lb used anvil and I am wondering some methods to get the best performance out of it.

    My shop has a dirt floor. What would be the best base for a dirt floor?

    Are chains wrapped around the anvil very helpful? Adds weight and helps deaden ring?

    Anything else that would help?

    lanternnate likes this.
  2. joedhiggins


    May 31, 2016
    Solid, heavy stand, bedded into the dirt. Strongly affix the anvil to the base (there are a bunch of ways to do this; Essential Craftsman has a good youtube video on one method). make sure you have good contact b/t the anvil and its stand. Chain will help dampen the ring, as may magnets, but won't make it perform like a heavier anvil.

    Make sure your anvil's edges are radiused )I like a smoothly decreasing radius along the edge.

    Your anvil will have a 'sweet zone,' probably under the fully supported bits. Forge there.

    If this is your first anvil, I am guessing you don't have a lot of forging experience. Forge a bunch of leaves, hooks, gate latches, etc. It will make you a far better smith than jumping directly into making knives.

    Learn to use a hammer well. Watch Alec Steele and Joey van der Steeg. Get a proper rounding hammer.
    Marko3 and valknut like this.
  3. skillgannon


    Apr 27, 2009
    I4Marc posted some really nice pics of his setup. They look really secure and he says they don't ring much.
    valknut likes this.
  4. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    This will be my first legit anvil, I had a large block of steel set into 100 lbs of concrete to start. Is a stump very effective? Thanks for the info. :thumbsup:

    Do you have a link? I looked at @i4Marc 's posts and couldn't find anything.
    valknut likes this.
  5. I like using 6x6s standing on their ends, bolted together with allthread or long bolts. Then when you put the anvil on the top, put a layer of silicone caulking underneath it. It will deaden the ring big time. Then you can put a loop bolt on either side. Then wrap a chain around the base and chain it to the loop bolts at the base of the stand and tighten them using double sided/hooked tightening connectors. When you tighten the connector bolts on the side it will pull the anvil down into the base and deaden it even more. Like this:

    ETA I did my stand a long time ago and did mine with 4x4s on their sides. This was stupid and I should have use 6x6s cut to length and on end. That is the way to go.


    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  6. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    As you know, the greater the mass of the anvil, the more effective. Because you have a dirt floor, if you could solidly attach the anvil to a post sunk 3-4' in the ground, you're in effect turning the planet into your anvil.
    valknut likes this.
  7. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    I still like sand. No ring. Easy to move on a dolly.

    valknut likes this.
  8. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    Read through this recent thread:


    Everybody has their own method. It is better if you can bury the bottom of the base or bolt it to a floor but as long as you have good mass under the anvil and it doesn't walk or jump around when you're working you'll be fine. As far as reducing ringing of the anvil, just make sure it is mounted to your base securely so it doesn't hop or shift.

    I wasn't aware that the San Andreas fault ran through your shop. ;)
    valknut likes this.
  9. Haha I know right. Although it would probably be the Humbolt fault line ;). Well, at least I won’t have to worry about ruining a nice garage floor if I end up getting a power hammer. :D
  10. Randy3000


    Jun 3, 2017
    That contractor didnt believe in control joints apparently.
  11. joedhiggins


    May 31, 2016
    Go to your local lumber mill and see if they have an oak or other heavy, hardwood stump. They will probably cut it to size for you. Think I paid $20 for the last stump (white oak) I used, milled square, cut to size.
  12. J. Keeton

    J. Keeton

    Nov 15, 2005
    Ian Fifelski likes this.
  13. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    valknut, Ian Fifelski and Natlek like this.
  14. MoSmith


    May 28, 2017
    I use a stump on dirt or a cement floor and it works well. Not much ringing at all and it's solid, doesn't dance around.
  15. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    I think I am going to do what @J. Keeton did with the 2x12's on end and sink it in the ground. Would a foot be a good depth? What do you suggest for mounting? I have seen bolted chain as well as shaped metal 'bands'.

    Now I really need to commit to a shop layout, if it is going to be a foot in the ground. Its tricky in a 7 x 12 ft shop. :eek::p
  16. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Depends on how soft your ground is. Deeper is better.
  17. joedhiggins


    May 31, 2016
    I am not sure this is meaningfully true. Sink it enough so that the stand doesn't walk on you, but as soon as that is done, all we are worried about is the compressibility of the underlying substrate. I can't see any reason that sinking it more than a foot would benefit you. If you were to sink the anvil itself, that would help with ring, but from an effectiveness standpoint, we are basically looking at how compressible (and over what time period) the underlying material is. Burying it deeper will only help with lateral expansion of the underlying material; it shouldn't matter.
  18. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    For strictly solid mounting. Sinking is great but I would never want to loose workshop flexability being able to shift my anvils around the floor or even out the door if needed.

    Often different size workpieces, or working with my partners as striker or just both us working the same side of the forge, Anvils need to be shifted to wherever they are best suited.
    In all fairness, I do alot more than just knives & trinkets, but something as simple as for a given task the horn pointing one way or another is a real step saver.
    joedhiggins likes this.

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