Sign-in for offers and discounts from brands you view Sign in

Anvils for the Woodshop

Visit us at
Channel Image

Published on May 21, 2022
Woodworking is the art of crafting wood products from raw timber. It is a standard craft that makes use of timber as its material of choice. A woodworker is a person who methods woodworking. Woodworking has a long background, the origins of the craft can be mapped back as far as 10,000 years. Delight in these articles and also hope you find value in them. We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations. My new Cliff Carroll’s 35Ib anvil. Should an anvil be among the first tools to be recommended to new woodworkers? The answer is probably no. But as our shop grows and with the diversification of our work I can wholeheartedly advocate for every shop to have at least a small anvil on hand. After many years in the trade, both as a teacher and as a maker, I have learned to appreciate the anvil’s contribution to my work. In this entry, I will explain why we need an anvil and what products are on the market.  Bellow: One of my students while cold forging aluminum on our Japanese steel railroad track anvil. Woodworkers use anvils for various tasks, from straightening crooked nails and deformed hardware, to reforming tips of tools that accidentally fall to the ground and get bent, to occasionally reinforcing the depression in the backs of Japanese chisels and plane blades, and on and on. In addition, anvils are paramount in the process of forging new hardware, new tools, riveting, and even as formidable weights during glue-ups.  In my quest to find the perfect anvil for the woodshop, I learned a few things about these beasty helpers, but I also discovered some myths that need to be dispelled. Size, shape, material, and hardness are the most important factors when looking for an anvil. Size and weight The larger (and heavier) the anvil – the better it will be able to dampen hammer forces levied on it. But of course, the heavier the anvil, the more expansive it is, and the more difficult it will be to lift and tuck away (for storage) at the end of the use. In my opinion, anything between 10 to 35-pound is a good and manageable size that will serve you well, will not jump around too much, and will provide sufficient surface to work upon. In our woodshop at school, we have two small anvils that we use often. One is a Japanese steel railroad track anvil, and the other is made of cast iron. Both weigh around 10 pounds and see a lot of use. Lee Valley under its Utilitas label used to sell a great hardened surface (7Ib) anvil that I bought a decade ago. This anvil is very handy, and I only wish they had kept carrying it in their catalog. Shape The exact shape will vary depending on the anvil’s intended use and the regional traditions of the foundries that cast it. A classic British and American anvil will have a formidable horn connected to a flat rectilinear or trapezoid surface behind it. German anvils are a bit different as their flat surface culminates into a pyramidal shape, so in essence, it has a round horn on one end and a flat triangle on the opposite. The most recent anvil that we purchased for our program is an imported tool that is based on the German anvil pattern.  The tip of the horn got bent during shipping due to inadequate attention to packaging. Material Professional blacksmiths use steel anvils whose surface has been hardened. Steel anvils are much more expansive than cast iron but will last forever, be more rigid, and will resist developing surface indentations. While researching the subject, I encountered the claim that the way to identify a steel anvil from a cast-iron one is by the ringing sound that a steel anvil produces when struck. This ringing sound, I was told, is the hallmark of quality. But is it really the case? Bellow: Preforming the ringing test on our newly bought 22Ib “steel” anvil. Hardness If you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for an anvil you can get a cast-iron tool that would still do a good job at under $50. These anvils will not have a beautiful horn or a polished and hardened surface but will fulfill most of our occasional needs. A Chinese maker has recently introduced a line of anvils that are claimed to be made of steel and whose surface was presumably been hardened to 50 RC. After reading and watching many positive reviews I decided that at $59 for a 22lb anvil I should give it a try so I ordered this anvil for our program. While the anvil passed the ringing test with flying colors it surprisingly failed the hardness te...


Share Video

  • 560 x 315
  • 640 x 360
  • 853 x 480
  • 1280 x 720

Add to

Flag Video

Rate video

Rate video