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Using An Anvil For Metal Forging

The Best Way To Use An Anvil

Metalworking is an impressive skill set. Blacksmiths work at perfecting their craft for years before they feel masterful. Some of the most successful blacksmiths in the United States have workshops where they own and operate their own custom metal fabrication business. They often use an anvil for metal forging to create some pretty amazing things.

The Anatomy Of An Anvil

Anvils come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The shape is much more than the way the anvil looks; it also allows you to bend, shape, and cut the metal. This Rigid 165 lb forged anvil is going to be our guide for this demonstration.

  • The Horn: The purpose of the horn is to allow you to effectively curve heated metal using a variety of diameters so you’re sure to get the perfect curve.
  • The Hardie Hole: The big hole, usually a big square hole in the body of the anvil, is called a hardie hole. This hole allows you to put tools directly on the anvil to improve its functionality on the spot. For example, you could insert a metal bending tool into the hardie hole and bend metal without leaving the anvil.
  • The Face: The surface of the anvil that you put your metal on to strike is called the face.
  • The Pritchel Hole: The small hole, a round hole in the body of the anvil, is called the pritchel hole. This hole allows you to pierce holes into the metal you’re working with using a punch.
  • The Heel: The heel of the anvil is the end opposite the horn. This is a sharper area that is generally used for sharp bends in metal.
  • The Body: The body is the thick part of the anvil.
  • The Waist: The waist is the narrow part below the body and above the base.
  • The Base: The base of the anvil is between the narrow waist and the feet.
  • The Foot: The foot of the anvil is, as the name suggests, what the anvil rests on.

Some anvils have a cutting area at the base of the horn. This is your cutting surface. Never cut on the face of the anvil. Always use the base of the horn as your cutting board.

Anvil Sizes

The type of anvil you use will greatly depend on what you need it for. Here is a list of a variety of anvils and a brief description of each:

  • Jeweler’s Anvil – This particular anvil is extremely lightweight because jewelers work with lightweight metals and gemstones. The jeweler’s anvil weighs only about one-half to five pounds. The body is much the same as its larger counterparts.
  • Bench Anvil – These lightweight anvils may weigh between five and 50 pounds. They’re small and are generally used on a bench or a workshop table.
  • Farrier’s Anvils – This anvil is specifically designed for farriers – metalworkers who make horseshoes. It is similar to other types of anvil in shape, but the size is roughly 100 to 150 pounds.
  • Forging Anvils – These are the most common type of anvil. This is the anvil you would normally use if you were working metal today. They range in weight from 75 pounds to 500 pounds or more.

Tapping The Anvil

Many people ask why a metalworker taps the anvil with the hammer between strikes to the metal. Some people speculate that it is a way to keep the hammer from getting too hot, but that isn’t the case at all. We want the hammer and the anvil face to be hot so the metal doesn’t cool as quickly. It’s simply a way to keep the rhythm going or to get a better grip on the hammer between strikes. Tapping also makes the hammer jump back up easily to reduce strain on the metalworker’s arm.

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