How to use a blacksmith anvil

How to use a blacksmith anvil

Metalworking is known as blacksmithing, and it is an ancient profession. This is a classic technique in which the blacksmith (or someone doing this kind of job) forges wrought iron and steel metal into desired forms using hand tools. Blacksmiths shape metals using a variety of instruments. And an anvil is a common piece of equipment used by blacksmiths worldwide to shape metal.

But what is the purpose of this tool? How should it be utilized correctly? This article aims to educate novices on blacksmithing and give information on conducting professional blacksmithing using an anvil.


What exactly is an anvil?

An anvil is an integral part of the forge welding process. Stated, it is a big metal block with a flattened top surface. When blacksmith works with metal, they utilize an anvil's surface (or face) to pound the metal in the desired direction. Anvils are used to create any metalworking device or project, such as knife blades, agricultural tools, brackets, chains, and so on. Essentially, any project that needs metal is done on an anvil. An anvil is necessary for metalworking and forges welding because the materials used to make them are robust, withstand repeated strikes from a hammer, and withstand very high temperatures. However, it must be built correctly and securely using the appropriate material to serve its purpose.


Faces of a blacksmith anvil

Before getting into the specifics of utilizing anvils for blacksmithing, it's essential to understand how they're made. An anvil has three sides in the conventional configuration. The central flat face, the step, and the horn are all visible.

  • The Main Face: In general, the main face is a flat rectangular metal surface used to flatten the item. Often, the hard job is done just with this face.
  • The Step: The step serves as a cutting edge and a means of keeping the forging surface clean and sustaining the hammering force.
  • The Horn: This¬†is the last face. It has a rounded, angular face used to chamfer,¬†bend, and fillet forged items. It is up to the blacksmith to alter the location of the horn's tip to produce particular forms.

Traditionally, anvil's initial raw material was stone, or occasionally just a rock slab. Later, as the design evolved, anvils were fashioned of bronze, then wrought iron, and finally steel, which is currently the preferred material for the contemporary anvil.


The Making of an Anvil

Cast iron anvils are less expensive, but they are not frequently used by experts or blacksmiths by trade since this metal bends and accepts more of the impact of a hammer compared to steel. When each component of the anvil is forged separately, it is welded together to create the workstation. After the build-up, it is connected to a base made of suitable and fire-resistant material. A loose anvil is very hazardous; therefore, it must be firmly attached to the ground before keeping it steady when hit with a hammer.


How to Use an Anvil for Blacksmithing

As previously stated, the blacksmithing process is a collection of established methods. Let us show you how to get started with an anvil as a beginner.


Choose the iron or iron alloy to be used

The steel choosing procedure is broken down into the following stages. First, choose the cheapest steel metal piece. The length of the trial workpiece may range from 10 to 30 mm. Because hard steels are frequently tricky to forge, begin with the softest steel. It will require strong hammer strokes and precise temperature assessment. To determine the proper temperature, maintain the cold end in tongs and begin heating the other end.  The heated workpiece must have an almost golden glow to work on. If you heat the metal to the melting point, the workpiece will generate sparks when you remove it.

A blacksmith's first stroke

This stage confirms if you can handle the material without trouble. It would help if you blasted the hammer on the heated sample workpiece.  This is where you may put your forging skills to the test. It is essential to realize that blacksmithing is much more than just strong hammer blows; it is also about utilizing a hammer technically. As a result, you must practice the hammering technique on your lower arm.

Strike and shape

Striking and shaping are the commencement stage of the simple blacksmithing method using an anvil. The blacksmith molds a workpiece to produce a basic shape in this phase. In this case, a metal ball may be hammered and molded into a brick, 

Object definition

This is the stage at which a blacksmith's extraordinary talents play a significant role. The process of defining an item is known as detailing. The step and the horn of an anvil are utilized efficiently in this phase. However, the blacksmith must be technically correct to identify the object.


Tips for amateur blacksmith using an anvil

 There are a few tricks that may help you execute blacksmithing flawlessly. The two basic tricks are:


Tap the anvil

After a few hammer strikes, experienced blacksmiths would often tap the step of the anvil's face. This allows their arm to rest for a few moments as they check the last few hits on the metal piece or keep their rhythm while inspecting the item. Because the hammer and anvil are so close together, it is easy for the blacksmith to return the hammer to its initial striking position in the first instance.

In many cases, even if a blacksmith is confident in his unique and shaping abilities, he would want to inspect the piece at regular intervals to ensure that the process is proceeding correctly. These skilled blacksmiths merely tap the anvil yet never pound it since this may cause minor deformations in the sheeting form. This pressing also assists them in conserving energy and completing the job without interruptions.

Avoid using shoulders

Unlike conventional depictions of blacksmiths who lift their hand in the air and blast the hammer so forcefully, a current expert would hammer with the wrist‚ÄĒadopting a wrist movement when hammering produces a more accurate pressure on the metal and aids with item details.



An anvil's function is to provide a base area for forge welding and metalworking. Due to the various processes involved in blacksmithing, such as shaping, hammering, and cutting, the contemporary anvil's separate compartments help produce a more precise and high-quality weld. Suppose you want to study blacksmithing as a profession or pastime; it is essential to get fully acquainted with the functioning of an anvil. This will assist in getting the best out of it and pleasure from mastering the metalworking art.

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