Jump to content
Dan C

Custom Anvil for Knifemakers

Recommended Posts

I am considering working with an industrial forge in the US to make an anvil especially for knife-makers.  I have my own ideas about how that anvil might differ from a typical blacksmith's anvil or a farrier's anvil, but I would love the input of the members of this forum.  If you could design an anvil especially for bladesmithing, what would your anvil look like?  This is your opportunity to be heard!

Smaller horn?  No horn?  What dimensions would the face of the anvil have?  Anything else you can think of?

I know that the Japanese swordsmiths just use a simple block of steel.  But modern American bladesmiths use things like Hardy tools and hold-downs and whatnot.  So, we need more than that.  Is there anything about a typical blacksmith's anvil that is superfluous or just gets in the way?  How could a specifically-designed bladesmith's anvil be better?

What are your thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have thought about this at some length over the years.  In my shop I have a 200# Fisher in pretty good shape.  I hardly use it any more.  What I do use is a 6x5 block of 4140.  For the kind of work I do having easy access to the 4 edges is more important than anything else.  However, I also have a long block of 4140 (6x5x30) on it's side with the 6" face upright and receivers for hardy tools welded to each end, plus I have a swedge block which also holds hardy tools.

What I would like (and this is just me) is a two piece system.  

1)  A block anvil like the SeaRobin anvils of yore.  A full hard 6x6 block between 125 and 200 lbs.  A 6x6x12 block would be 130 lbs, 6x6x18 would be 194 lbs.  Full hard so it could be used in both orientations.

2) A second anvil that would have a horn and a hardy and pritchel.  Call that face A.  In rotation around the axis of the horn faces B, C, and, D would have various swedge shapes, face E would have a swedge depression on it which would put the horn straight down.  The horn would be more like a cone shape so that you could also point it straight up and use it like a cone mandrel.  This block would be on the order of 6x6x6, or about 65 lbs.

Here is how I got to this idea.  Most of my forging is blades or small tools and a pure block does all of that better than a London pattern anvil.  But, I do need hardy tools pretty often, a horn once in a blue moon, and swedges now and again.  In the end I got lucky and found several blocks of 4140 in 30" lengths, and I have built my forging station around 2 of them.  I have lots of space and so that forging station (block anvil, tooling anvil, swedge block, and hammer rack) is contained in a 3'x4' footprint.

The pieces I've described would be portable (within large values of portability) and would take up a lot less floor space.

This is just what I would do, ask 10 smiths the same question, expect to get 12 opinions.

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Geoff!  I really appreciate the input.  I use a block of 4140 that is 6x6x12.  It's all I use.  But I mostly do swordsmithing.

Any photos or drawings or anything else to help understand would be greatly appreciated!  I'm seriously considering making this thing.  

Anyone else wanna play?

Edited by Dan C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to use the horn more and more so I wouldn't eliminate it completely. One thing I would like to see is all the mass under the face. This is one reason I am partial to the mouse hole. The average London pattern has way to skinny of a waist. I think the colonial pattern is a good example of keeping the mass under the face and a shorter horn that doesn't get in the way as much and still has the hardy hole for the use of tools. so I would say try to keep it along the lines of the mouse hole pattern or the colonial pattern. I like the idea of Geoff's of having an anvil/swage!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I could do the cad thing, I would.  This is my anvil station, you can see there is a hammer rack down the center

IMG_9380 (640x427).jpg

 

IMG_9382 (427x640).jpg

Here are a couple of shots of a SeaRobin

SeaRobin1.jpg

SeaRobin2.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have forged  few knives on this one.   And I like it for forging blades.  A lot of surface area.   200 pounds.   A bottom anvil from a big drop hammer.   The steel rods fit into lifting holes and are used for transporting the anvil, a two man job.  Photos taken when it was sitting under a shed behind the  barn.   Now cleaned up and ready for use.

enhance

 

enhance

enhance

 

 

I have three London Style anvils (196 pound, 150 pound and a 100 pound)  but I like this flat one for the  knives.

Edited by John Ricks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO the Searobin is the most ideal. Theres no need to complicate it. maybe perhaps adding a horn and heel below the level of the face, but really is not needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do sort of agree with you, however, if I didn't have something to hold a cutoff and some other tools, I'd have to make something.  My swedge block does that, which is why I thought of the second block.

 

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think something like my first anvil, with a hardy hole and a small horn added could be a good pattern, or at least some of the ‘features’. No waist to create a small ‘sweet spot’, with an upsetting block (not really necessary, but handy for some of my blacksmithing projects), and a nice radius on the left side of the face there for drawing out stock.

 

I haven’t weighed it, but it started life as a 16” circle of 3” plate I was told was 4350. I’m pretty sure it’s just mild after welding the upsetting block on, but it still works pretty well. Even just a hardy tool holder on the side would work, as you can always use a hardy bick iron in place of a horn...

 

*disclaimer*

I am at best a very novice bladesmith. I have done a lot of reading and talking to those who are not, and my reading and discussions does seem to confirm my admittedly limited experience. 

I will also say that I still like the attached anvil at least as much as my “new” 100#’er. How much of that can be attributable to familiarity I’m unsure of, so take everything I’ve said with a healthy dose of salt...

6C97D054-11CE-4A5A-92F8-4F1212847146.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boy, I like Geoff's setup.  I've often thought a big sawyer's anvil would be ideal.  I think it is the videos at BK&S where I keep seeing a big old honkin sawyer's anvil that I drool over...

I do use my horn for drawing out distal taper though, so I'm not sure how I would replace that function.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remembering my opinion comes from a blacksmith rather than a bladesmith, so my work needs are diffident.

Interesting question. I think starting out, simple is best, but from time to time, give some thought to what and how you're doing things. You might realize, that bit you thought of no value, is just the thing you need to improve your work. Look at the youtube video of the Sheffield Smith, his anvil is anything but just a square block. I've been meaning to upgrade my forging area, by adding a second anvil and at least one tool stand, something along the same idea as Geoff has. but I've been procrastinating

As for the OP's idea of casting bladesmith anvils, will the market support the cost of manufacturing?  Smiths are, after all, notoriously frugal.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the anvil I am going to buy depending on what Wes Detrick finds out about them.

blademaster-anvil-1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is my rendition of Geoff's proposed anvil number 2.  Mostly because it sounded fun to draw up something at least similar (I know it isn't exactly like he described...call it artistic license).   

Keyes_Anvil.JPG

It would be 6x6x12, plus the 8" long cone horn.  Through holes (pritchel/hardy) and swage features are obviously open for debate on what sizes and shapes would be most useful.  I would suggest that the face opposite the horn be left flat and used for the main work surface.  More swage features could be added in the open space on the face with the through holes.  This would of course need a custom stand that would hold it in both the vertical and horizontal positions.  The large step around the base of the cone is intended to help facilitate this.  As it is currently draw it sits at just over 110 pounds, so after some more features are added that would cut it down to about 100.  

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerrod, that is pretty much exactly what I had in mind!  It's small enough that one person could manipulate it (which is a problem with my big swedge block, it's a two man and a small boy lift).  In my mind the end opposite the horn would be a large sinking depression, since the other piece (the 12 to 18 inch block) would be the main forging surface.

Seeing this in 3d makes me drool, I want one!

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would think you could get by with just this one if you left the 6x6 face flat.  I'm also not quite visualizing a stand that can easily handle both orientations (vertical and horizontal) without just being big enough to have separate 2 slots.  In which case maybe 2 stands would be better, so you have more options in your shop layout.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is starting to sound like a continuing of the Grant Sarver anvil conversation :-)

Edited by Gerald Boggs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

.   

Keyes_Anvil.JPG

If this was available right now I would buy one!!!:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

This is the anvil I am going to buy depending on what Wes Detrick finds out about them.

blademaster-anvil-1.jpg

You might not want to wait around for me bud; I have no idea when I am going to make it to that shop let alone if that dude will let me bounce a hammer off the face of it.  I wanted to go this upcoming weekend, but my daughter is moving out and guess who is driving the moving van?  Depending on time available, I may be able to make it up there a few weekends from now.

 

 

5 hours ago, Geoff Keyes said:

Jerrod, that is pretty much exactly what I had in mind!  It's small enough that one person could manipulate it (which is a problem with my big swedge block, it's a two man and a small boy lift).  In my mind the end opposite the horn would be a large sinking depression, since the other piece (the 12 to 18 inch block) would be the main forging surface.

Seeing this in 3d makes me drool, I want one!

Geoff

I think you would have liked Glen Stollmeyer's anvil that he produced for a limited amount of time.  it didnt have a horn, but it super close to what you described and what Jerrod drew up.  Here it is.

gstongs.jpg

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Wes Detrick said:

You might not want to wait around for me bud; I have no idea when I am going to make it to that shop let alone if that dude will let me bounce a hammer off the face of it.  I wanted to go this upcoming weekend, but my daughter is moving out and guess who is driving the moving van?  Depending on time available, I may be able to make it up there a few weekends from now.

I'm taking my time with this purchase. And I'm doing my homework on this one. But I'm kinda leaning towards an antique anvil just because of all the bullshit with buying a new anvil and Michigan is anvil rich so I shouldn't have a problem finding a good anvil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its funny how both of those negate one of the best benefits of an anvil for bladesmithing, all the mass under the face. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sam, you have one of Jymm Hoffmann's colonial style anvils, which in my opinion has among the best distribution of mass of any general-purpose anvil.  Does he still make those, and how would you compare it to a Sea Robin or that sawyers anvil Kerry has?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/30/2018 at 12:46 PM, Jerrod Miller said:

 

Keyes_Anvil.JPG

 

Shoot yea, I'd buy it! looks handy. Figuring out a stand shouldn't be too hard I wouldn't think. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...