Peter Wright Anvil

Dec 29, 1998
Yesterday I bought a very old Peter Wright anvil at a yard sale for $40. I judge it weighs about 100 pounds. The top is clearly beaten up from hard use. The rest of the anvil seems fine. Two questions: Did I get my money's worth? Should the top be ground down or something to get rid of the nicks and restore a smooth, flat surface?

Thanks for your input.

Carl Jensema
Used anvils normally fetch about $2 a pound so if it's good then you made out well. To tell if its good take a ball bearing and hold it 12-18 inches from the face of the anvil and drop it. If it bounces to almost where you released it from the anvil is good. If it doesnt bounce its a good bet the anvil has been in a fire during its life.
those anvils that have seen a lot of use, have been work hardened, the outside skin on the top has been documented to be as hard as RC78,

this is a very good thing.(that's where the life is)

If you machine it flat you will loose that work hardend surface and ruin your anvil.

I read how to break in a new anvil it went something like
2 aprentices work on the surface, beating it with 32oz hammers, all day every day for 3 weeks. then the shop master will test it with a 5oz. hammer listening for tone and feeling the recoil. he will tell them where more effort is needed. after a couple more days he will check it again. It generaly takes 2 men about a month to break in a 300lb. anvil.

If it's been in a fire you will need to rework the top anyway, so machine away.

but, It's taken me 2 years to work life into mine,
Well, that beats the heck out of the Peter Wright I just bought for $200! Seriously, go to (Uncle Al) and shoot them an email to see if they can resurface it for you if possible. I plan on doing the same for mine. Uh, you got a deal.

C Wilkins
I'm pretty sure the anvil has not been in a fire. It's apparently been sitting in a garage out in the country for a long time. Not having a ball bearing handy, I bounced a 32 oz hammer off it before I bought it and it seemed ok.

I think I'll use it the way it is for awhile before I consider any resurfacing.

Thanks for the input. It looks like I got lucky on on this purchase.
Another question.... What's the best base for an anvil? I was thinking of using a nice piece of oak tree trunk, but maybe someone has a better idea?

traditionaly a 6 foot piece of whie oak(red oak rots) buried about 4 feet in the ground the end is flattened and the anvil mounted. you don't have to go that far down, but it does give you a solid base. black locust is another good choice.

have fun, Eric
I have seen everything from a stump to a half barrel filled with sand with a cross tie in it to mount the anvil. One fairly easy way is to get some 2 X 4s and cut them to a length of 2 feet or so and place a number of them side by side and stack another series of boards "side by side" on top but perpendicular or crosshatched to the preceeding layer and keep stacking up until your anvil is the right height. The "right height" is about knuckle distance from the ground.

C Wilkins