An anvil is a piece of metal that almost every blacksmith has. Even a heavy rock may serve the same purpose but having a specialized anvil in your blacksmith workshop can drastically improve the quality of your products.
A blacksmithing anvil has a unique design, suited for almost every task involving forging. Many variants are there, depending on the type and amount of work.
The basic design includes a flat face on which the hot metal is hammered, a horn that is used to bend metals, and a pritchel hole & hardy hole used for specialized cutting and bending.
Anvils have a long history. They have been used since medieval times. As more robust materials became available, the anvils were made from them to give them the strength they needed. Stone, bronze, iron, and finally steel were used in its construction.
A denser and a stronger anvil ensures that most of the energy from the impact is transferred to the workpiece while hammering. A good quality anvil can drastically improve the efficiency and quality of your work.
Why is it needed?
If you’re familiar with blacksmithing, then this question may not hold any importance for you. But there are many others out there, starting their career in blacksmithing, looking for an anvil. This might give them some insight and help them choose an anvil that’s best suited to their work.
An anvil is just a tool that aids a blacksmith. There are alternatives like you can use any flat surface for hammering if it’s sturdy enough. You can use any type of hole to hold a cutting tool for your forging. And similarly, you can bend your workpiece around any metal object as long as it holds its shape. An anvil provides all that in a single form factor.
Just place it on a sturdy base, preferably of iron, and you can hammer, bend, and cut almost anything without moving around for each step. There are different types of anvils available in the market. The standards depend on the kind of work a blacksmith demands.
For heavy-duty forging, the anvils are made from forged iron or steel. For light work and beginner blacksmiths, the anvils are made from cast iron. There are different sizes and shapes available, each with its properties, pros, and cons.
The following reviews will provide details on some of the best anvils available on the market.
1. Ridgid 69642 Model 12 Forged Anvil
This anvil is manufactured in Germany. Ridgid 69642 Model 12 Forged Anvil is drop-forged from high-grade steel to provide maximum durability. It has two horns for multiple applications. The top face is ground, and induction hardened. This gives an optimum surface to work on.
The dimensions include a 5¼ inch of face width, 12 inches of face length, and 8½ inches of horns. It contains two horns; one is rounded, and the other is triangular.
The round one is used to bend metals in a perfect circular way. The length of the horn allows for variable bends. The triangle horn allows angular bends that are not entirely round. This way, this anvil is perfect for most applications.
The anvil’s rigidity will enable it to handle heavy blows and transfer maximum energy to the workpiece. It also comes equipped with a pritchel hole to support multiple tools.
It’s sold in new and used conditions for a hefty price as it’s one of the best ones out there. It contains some extra features like an upsetting block and multiple horns. There are two specialized holes.
The Hardie hole is near the rounded horn and is used to house cutting tools of various types. The pritchel hole is located near the triangular horn and is primarily used for punching.
It weighs a solid 275 pounds and is ideal for heavy workloads over prolonged periods. The hole sizes are 1 inch for the Hardie hole, and the pritchel hole is 5/8 of an inch. The upsetting block will allow it to be attached to any surface.
Ridgid 69642 Model 12 Forged Anvil will be an ideal choice for you if you’re into massive works like high-grade steel forging and making thicker parts or bigger ones, not like scissors or knives with pig iron. Due to its quality build, it can last for years. The high-grade steel will outdo most competitors.
- This model has two different horns for multiple applications.
- It has two different holes for punching and cutting.
- It’s made from drop-forged high-grade steel.
- It’s recommended only for heavy workers.
- It’s heavy and not ideal for smaller applications.
2. Ridgid 69632 9-1/4 x 11-Inch Black Model 9 Forged Anvil
This anvil is similar to the previous one. Ridgid 69632 has the same rigid build and contains the same two horns. One horn is rounded, and the other is a triangular bit with curved edges. It’s manufactured in Germany using high-grade steel. There is no doubt that its sturdiness cannot be matched.
The top face is flat, and induction hardened to provide a smooth and flat surface to operate on. The dimensions are a bit smaller than the previous one, and the working face is 10 ½ inches long. The horns still serve the same purpose.
The round one is used to bend metals, both small and large, into round shapes. The triangle-shaped one is used to make sharp and specialized curves.
The rigidity is still the same as the previous model; only the size has changed. Rest assured; the high-grade steel will get you through almost anything. It, too, has two holes for cutting and various operations.
The Hardie hole is used to hold cutting tools that cut the workpiece into desired shapes. Hardie hole is 1 inch in size.
The pritchel hole is mostly used to punch holes, but it can serve other purposes. The cost of this anvil, in lush condition, is quite much. Its weight is around 170 pounds. It’s a great deal if you have the money for it. You can also get it in used form.
Ridgid 69632 can be perfect for you if you plan on working with medium-sized raw iron pieces. Its dimensions and weight make it ideal for medium and small workshops, and it can be easily moved around as compared to the previous one.
- It’s drop-forged from high-grade steel and quite rigid.
- It has two horns for various types of bending.
- It has two different types of cutting holes.
- It might not be suitable for weighty loads.
- The new one might be expensive than competitors.
3. NC Big Face Anvil
For a beginner, NC Big Face Anvil is mostly recommended that they start from small stuff and make their way to the top.
If you’re looking for a small, portable, and a solid anvil, then this model might just be the thing you’re looking for. It’s quite small, which makes it perfect for smaller applications that require detail.
The extreme level of detail that one can reach with a smaller anvil cannot be achieved with a larger one. The face on this anvil is milled with a ¼ inch hole. It has a single horn and a Hardie and a pritchel hole for cutting and punching.
The anvil is made from plastic steel that I cast with a Rockwell hardness of 48. This means that it will handle light work comfortably and efficiently. But this anvil will not work for heavy loads. Are you planning to work with brittle metal? If yes, we would advise you not to buy this one.
It weighs around 68 pounds and is light enough to be moved around quite easily. This can come in handy if you rearrange your workshop often or just move around the anvil for different purposes.
It has two specialized holes for cutting and punching as the previous model. The Hardie hole is 1 inch in size and is used for cuttings of various types. The pritchel hole is used mostly for punching, the same as the previous models.
The Hardie hole is located in the horn, and the pritchel hole is located in the heel on the opposite side.
For a medium price range, NC Big Face Anvil is quite a good deal. But there are some pros and cons you need to consider before deciding.
- It’s lightweight and portable.
- It’s relatively cheap and ideal for small and efficient forging.
- It can be customized.
- It can’t be used for heavy and high impact work.
- Brittle material can’t be forged by it.
4. Ridgid 69622 Model 5 Forged Anvil Peddinghaus Anvil
Another “Made in Germany” beauty from Ridgid. Ridgid 69622 is also made from high-grade steel. It’s drop-forged to make it robust and able to withstand high-impact blows and temperatures. It’s a smaller version of the previous models.
The top face is induction hardened here too and can handle hammer blows and scorching forge temperatures. This model is not made from tensile steel as it cannot handle massive impacts.
This anvil is a better choice than the ductile steel ones if you’re working with somewhat brittle materials.
It weighs around 77 pounds, which equates to 35 kg. This means that it can be easily transported from one place to another by one or two people or even a small cart. The little weight will also allow it to be conveniently moved around in the workshop.
If you’re just beginning to forge and want to tinker with small stuff to learn, then this anvil is the perfect choice for you. It can create small tools like knives and scissors with excellent efficiency and accuracy. You can also forge high-grade steel objects on this one.
This is a model 5, the same type as the previous models but with a face width of 3 inches and a length of 8 inches. It has two horns; the round one has a length of 5 ½ inches. The total length of the anvil is 18 ¾ inches.
The round horn helps you with curving small to medium metal bars in any desired shape. The other horn is suitable for sharper curves when bending. The top surface contains two holes same as the previous models but smaller in size. These holes hold different tools for various cutting operations.
If you’re willing to spend a fair amount, Ridgid 69622 can be the perfect addition to your blacksmithing workshop. Especially for those who wish to expand their business and want to start with high-grade products with excellent efficiency and accuracy, this anvil is a perfect choice.
Just keep in mind a few pros and cons of this particular model before making a choice.
- It’s small yet made from drop-forged, high-grade steel and induction hardened.
- It’s lightweight, accurate, and efficient.
- It has a pritchel hole and a Hardie hole despite its small size.
- It has two different horns for various types of bending.
- It’s not suitable for forging heavy and large objects.
- Bottom wedged hardy tools cannot be used.
5. NC Tool 112 lb. Calvary Anvil
This anvil is a slightly larger version of the previous NC model. NC Tool 112 Lb. Calvary Anvil is forged from ductile steel that costs a little less and is suitable for only a specific type of metals.
These anvils are not like the ones from Ridgid. They are made from high-grade steel and are durable. This calvary anvil is manufactured using a ductile steel with a Rockwell hardness of 48.
The ductility gives them some advantages when forging smaller tools. Because of the ductility, the anvil has less chance of shattering when under heavy blows. The more miniature anvils can sometimes break under heavy blows of a hammer and the high heat.
In that case, the Ridgid anvils will have a high chance of breaking or shattering while the ductile ones will bend slightly or dent. But blacksmiths generally avoid exposing the small anvils such blows.
Weighing 112 pounds, this anvil can be transported by 2 to 3 people or a hand cart. The face is machined and not as durable as a high-grade steel one, but it’ll hold its shape for a long time.
It only has a single horn that is flat and straight. It’s used to bend tools and metal bars into any shape. The horn side has a Hardie hole that is 1 inch in size. The opposite side has a pritchel hole that is 3/8 inches in size.
NC Tool 112 Lb. Calvary Anvil has a unique feature. It has a round turning hole to the side. It’s used to make regular sharp turns in a metal bar or a small tool. The face width is 4 5/8 inches with a length of 7 inches. The heel at the rear had a width of 3 5/8 inches with a length of 6 inches. The height of the anvil is 11 inches.
Before you set your heart on purchasing this one, you need to keep a few pros and cons in mind. This can make a significant difference as there are lots of similar and different ones out in the market.
- It’s small and portable.
- It’s ductile and won’t shatter under heavy blows.
- Not recommended for forging large and heavy tools.
- It’s not suitable for forging brittle and high-grade steel.
6. JHM Certifier 100 lb. Anvil
JHM Certifier 100 lb. Anvil is another variant of the ductile steel anvils. But this one is special. This anvil is made from high-grade ductile iron that is heat-treated to make it strong and durable. It’s medium to small in size with a few unique features. The small size makes it easy to transport.
The dimensions of the anvil include a height of 9.5 inches. It has a face width of 4 inches and a length of 16.5 inches. The base is 11 x 9 inches square, and the horn is 10.25 inches long. It has a single horn with less than half of it only round at one side. This allows for unique turnings and bending.
The Hardie and the pritchel hole both lie in the heel of the anvil. The Hardie hole is 1 inch in size and used for specialized cutting operations. The pritchel hole is half an inch in size and located at the back of the Hardie hole. It’s primarily used for punching.
The heel of the anvil has a 3″ tapering and a unique turning cam for bending and turnings metal bars. The material and the methods of heat treatment make it last a long time and able to handle heavy blows and loads.
JHM Certifier 100 lb. Anvil can be perfect for you if you want an anvil that is made from a ductile material and yet strong enough to make most tools. The ductility helps it to hold its shape while under heavy blows and loads and prevent shattering and breaking because of impacts.
The ductile steel is tampered after forging. This gives it considerable strength while retaining some of the ductility. Hence, enabling it to forge tools made from brittle materials and not lose its shape during work.
No doubt, this can be a perfect choice for most at first glance, but still, we need to define some pros and cons for this anvil.
- It’s made from ductile steel, which is tampered to give it strength.
- It’s small and lightweight.
- It can be used to forge brittle materials.
- It can last a lifetime if handled correctly.
- It’s not ideal for more extensive and heavier operations.
- It can’t survive hefty blows and loads.
7. Happybuy Single Horn Anvil 66 lb. Cast Iron
This anvil is another addition to the group of small and portable anvils. Happybuy Single Horn Anvil 66 lb. is mainly made from cast iron with a steel face. Cast iron is brittle, and the steel is durable. This anvil is small and reliable. Fit for most small forging applications and durable enough to handle brittle materials.
The top face of the anvil is made from steel and is polished to an exceptional degree. This allows it to handle most heavy blows and forge tools accurately and efficiently. It has a single horn of considerable length and thickness.
The primary material is cast iron with a finish of thick paint to protect it from corrosion. The top face is 11 x 45/8 inches square, and the base is 10 x 7 inches. The top surface has a machined Hardie hole for specialized cuttings. It has four anchor points.
This anvil is a perfect choice for beginners and those who blacksmith as a hobby and not professionally. This anvil is ideal for small tools, and it’s robust and light. It can be used to create scissors and knives and other small tools with high-efficiency thanks to its polished steel top.
The brittle body of the anvil allows it to handle impacts without deforming. Its brittleness can be a downside as it may break under heavy loads, but the top face is made of high-grade steel, and it absorbs most of the blows.
This is a multipurpose anvil. It can be used for riveting, silversmithing, flattening, forging and forming metal. It’s perfect for small scale n medium-scale applications. The base is easy to adjust firmly on any surface prevents wobbling.
The top surface, with the polished finish, can handle tools of the hardness of up to 50hrc.
Permanent blacksmiths can also make use of the properties of this anvil and make it the anvil of their choice. Happybuy Single Horn Anvil 66 lb. Cast Iron provides features, at a low price, that most blacksmiths can’t ignore.
Before we end, there are some distinct pros and cons that need to be discussed.
- It’s made from brittle cast iron with a durable steel face.
- It’s light and portable.
- It can be used to forge small to medium tools.
- It can’t be used for heavy applications.
- It can shatter or break if not handled properly.
- It can handle the hardness of up to 50hrc without scratching.
8. True Power Anvil 22-Pounds
A tiny anvil for tiny applications. True Power Anvil 22-Pounds made entirely from cast iron and is not heat treated. It’s mainly used to forge minimal tools like keychains and may not survive too many heavy blows.
It weighs 22 pounds and is extremely easy to move around and place anywhere in the workshop. It has a paint coating to protect it from rust. The face dimensions are 6 ¾ x 3 inches. This means that working with larger or even medium-sized metal stocks is not possible.
It has a single cast iron horn that is paint-coated too. The top of the face is somewhat smooth and flat. It doesn’t have any pritchel or Hardie hole for cutting and punching. Hence, it can’t be used for specialized operations.
It also doesn’t contain any unique tool for regular repetitive turns. The only possible way to make a metal round is through the horn. The face is not heat-treated and doesn’t pose much durability. It may break if a brittle object is hammered on top of the face.
True Power Anvil 22-Pounds is ideal for a hobbyist and a beginner. Just avoid using high impact hammers on this anvil, or it might break. Because of its low price, it is a perfect choice for small scale applications.
There are some things that you need to consider before buying this anvil.
- It’s tiny and lightweight.
- Perfect for a hobbyist and a beginner.
- Perfect for small tools.
- The build is not durable.
- Prone to breakage if hammered repeatedly.
9. PMC Supplies LLC 15 lb. Bench Horn Anvil
This is a specialized anvil for forging and repairing small items like jewelry. 15 lb. Bench Horn Anvil features a cast-iron design and a flat top surface. The horn is half in size and does not include a full length like in many other models.
It has a small flat face design, which is perfect for flattening and repairing jewelry and small tools. The work surface only includes a single 9/16″ Hardie hole to hold multiple tools for various types of cuttings/bending.
It weighs only 15 pounds and can be easily moved around. It’s perfect for small and mobile blacksmith workshops. Its main body is made up of cast iron, so it’s brittle and durable. This means that it’s perfect for ductile materials like silver and soft metals. It can handle medium impact blows but won’t handle intense pounding and might break.
It’s 8 ½ inches wide with a height of 3 13/16 inches. The base is easy to adjust on most surfaces and is wide enough to prevent toppling under loads. This anvil’s primary purpose is to jumpstart your career and help you make some initial bucks.
It costs very less and helps you in earning your first few bucks. You can eventually move on to some other anvil.
If you’re a hobbyist or want to repair your small tools or maybe want to start your career in blacksmithing with something small, then 15 lb. Bench Horn Anvil just might be what you’re looking for.
It may be brittle and small in size or may break easily, but it has its advantages and disadvantages. You should go through these before you can make a final decision.
- It’s small, lightweight, and portable.
- It’s durable to a certain extent.
- It’s cheap and can help you earn your starting bucks.
- It’s not suitable for medium or heavy forging.
- It can’t survive high impact loads.
10. Grizzly Industrial G8147-55 lb. Anvil
This is a medium-sized anvil made in the United States. Grizzly Industrial G8147-55 lb. Anvil has an excellent mounting base and a single horn that is somewhat flat on the top.
The face is smooth and has a beautiful and polished finish. The main body is made from cast iron and covered in a layer of paint to protect it from rusting.
It has a single square Hardie hole to hold multiple cutting tools that can perform various cuts. It weighs a reasonable 55 pounds and can be moved around with ease. Mostly two people are required, but it can be moved around using a hand cart.
It’s not available in several colors and sizes. Only a single size is available with a width of 6 inches and a length of 14.5 inches. Its height is 6 1/8 inches, and the horn length is 5.5 inches. The area of the face is 4 x 8.25 inches.
It’s wholly me from cast iron with no steel face. This means that during heavy blows, the brittle cast iron from the top of the face bight shatter, and small pieces may fly in any directions.
The base of the anvil has mounts that can be mounted on a table or any sturdy surface. Even without the mounts, it can work just fine.
Despite being an affordable anvil, most blacksmiths complain about its top surface, which is cast iron. This is to be expected for the price, but there is a way around this.
You can mount a durable steel plate on the top and weld it in place. Now your anvil will be able to handle a considerable amount of beatings before failing.
On the stock one, you can’t use steel tools on the surface as it may damage it, and the anvil won’t hold much longer. This anvil is an excellent choice for medium workers who don’t have to deal with high-grade steel and mostly work with iron and small to medium tools.
Like every other anvil, Grizzly Industrial G8147-55 lb. Anvil has some pros and cons, which you need to consider before making the final move and buying it.
- It’s sturdy and somewhat portable.
- It can handle medium to light work.
- It doesn’t have a steel face.
- It doesn’t have a pritchel hole for punching.
Buyer’s Guide For Buying An Anvil
There are some general things which you must consider before choosing a particular anvil for your blacksmithing work. One thing you need to understand is that there are different types of anvils, each suited to a specific purpose. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Don’t expect any anvil to be a perfect all-rounder.
What factors to consider when buying the product?
Primarily they are categorized according to dimensions. There are large and heavy ones for heavy load demanding jobs. Then there are common ones for medium tools and light to medium forging. Finally, there are small and light ones for repairing and forging tiny objects (like jewelry).
Secondly, they are differentiated by the type of content they are made from. There are ones that are made from high-grade steel. These are durable and heavy. They cost a lot but can withstand a lot of beatings and will probably last many years.
Then there are ones that are made from ductile steel. They don’t possess the durability, but they won’t shatter and wear quickly due to high impact loads. This is all thanks to their ductility, or should we call it elasticity.
And finally, there are ones made from cast iron. Cast iron is cheap and brittle. So, these anvils are good for making small and durable tools.
The final defining factor is cost. Choose the best anvil for you, but careful not to go bankrupt. This ultimately comes down to what type of blacksmith you are.
If you are a hobbyist and are just starting your career and need to practice forging some small tools, go for a small anvil that is made from cast iron. It won’t last much, but you’re getting decent experience from it.
If you’re a full-time blacksmith and you need to forge quality products, then you should buy a high-grade steel anvil that will last many years. It’ll cost a lot, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.
An affordable, high-quality anvil with high-grade, durable steel will cost you somewhere between $300-$600. You can buy them in used condition too.
A cast-iron anvil will cost you under $100 and will help you forge medium to small tools and repair most small appliances. But you’ll have to be careful during operation on such an anvil. They can shatter or break anytime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some general questions are asked by most buyers when selecting an anvil for their work. These can range from the dimensions of the anvil to the type of material used in its construction. The following are the fundamental questions asked by everyone.
1. Should I buy a new anvil or a used one?
It is recommended you buy a new anvil unless you’re getting a used anvil for a meager price. Used anvils have uneven top faces and might have developed internal cracks due to massive impacts.
You’ll have to spend a significant amount of time and effort trying to grind the top surface to make it smooth again. Hence it is recommended to buy a new one.
2. What size of the anvil should I go for?
It depends on what type of work you’ll be planning on doing. If you need to repair small tools or jewelry, then an anvil with small dimensions and lightweight would be preferable.
If you need to forge standard tools like knives and scissors, then a medium-sized anvil would be perfect.
If you want to make swords and axes, then a heavy and large-sized anvil would do you good.
3. What kind of material should I go for when buying an anvil?
Anvils are made up of different materials, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. There are Cast steel anvils that are durable and strong. They are expensive, but they will last long.
Then there are raw-iron anvils with a fire steel top. These are cheaper than cast steel ones but may bend over time. Finally, there are cast iron ones. You should avoid cast iron anvils because they tend to shatter often and don’t return much value.
4. Should I buy an old anvil and fix it myself?
You can do that, but only if you’re getting the old one for a meager price, otherwise it’s not worth it. You can buy old anvils from junkyards or from people that don’t need them and try to fix them yourself.
5. How can I fix an old and damaged anvil?
If the body of the anvil is damaged, then you’ll need to weld the damaged parts and grind them for an excellent finish. The main areas that should be repaired are the top face and the horns. If the top face is bent and extremely damaged, then you’ll have to replace it.
If the horns are damaged, they’ll need to be replaced too. In some cases, it may cost you more to repair an old anvil, so be careful when assessing the damage.
6. Is there any advantage of buying a heavy anvil?
Yes, the more mass concentration an anvil has, the more energy it sends back into the workpiece. If you have a lightweight anvil, the chances are that your tool will not be accurate and efficiently created.
When you hammer the anvil, it sends all the energy of that impact back to the hammer or workpiece—the more massive the anvil, the more efficient the reaction impulse.
Every blacksmith needs an anvil if he wants to start blacksmithing. Without an anvil, it’s nearly impossible to forge and create anything. What most people don’t know is what kind of anvil will suit their needs and what type they should go for.
There are many sizes and types of anvils for various purposes. Each type has its range of cost and efficiency.
If you’re a hobbyist, then there is a separate anvil that is suited to your work. If blacksmithing is your full-time career, then there is a different anvil for you. You can’t make the wrong decision when buying an anvil. It can cost you your job/career.
Good quality anvils can cost up to $500. When dealing with that kind of money, you can’t afford to make a mistake. If you end up buying a massive, high-grade steel anvil just to repair some small tools, then you’re pretty much done for.
Do some research before buying an anvil. Know what you need and what type of blacksmith you are. Once you’ve identified these things, choosing an anvil is a straightforward task. You can buy one from your local hardware store or online.
Just remember to prioritize raw iron ones or cast steel ones. Cast iron ones are a thing of the past and only suitable to practice on.