Anvils have been made of several materials in history, starting with stone. Through the ages they have been made of bronze and iron, culminating in the height of the craft, an anvil fashioned from fine tool steel. Today we are building a stand for one.
My anvil is made of junk, quite literally I am sure. These are quite famous as being bad. I can say for a fact this one is not ideal. I still manage to get things made on it. Previously this was mounted on a picnic table which held the bellows and hand tools. As you can imagine, a picnic table takes up a lot of space in the shop. So I took the vise and tools off. I very carefully moved the table to the back yard, where it now sits, still in one piece, with lots of memories scarred into it’s surface.
We begin with the fattest, that is the heaviest, two by material I had. This is quite resinous wood, as you will see. I wanted something very dense to sit under the anvil. The surface needs to be flat, so I borrowed some planes from my father. The anvil base measures about 10″, so I got both pieces out of the good stick of lumber I found.
I clamped down a narrower board than the one I am working. This is so my plane does not hang up on it. I have to be careful not to take off more material at the ends of my stock or it will not be flat.
Look at that, just a few strokes on each side. It is starting to come to shape. There is more to it than just stroking the plane over the face of the wood. Not enough that it should dissuade anyone from doing it. Before I started this job today I took a bit of scrap wood and made passes over it. Each time I use a plane I do this. I get it adjusted the way I want it, so it is taking off just a ribbon. It takes a few extra minutes, but I mess up less wood I would like to use. Sharpening is another important step. I did not take pictures of that. So we will do an article on it all by itself one day.
You can also see here the bin where I try to dump most of my shavings. These are what I prefer to start fires with. There is going to be an article in future on starting fires and maintaining them the way you want.
So with two flat blocks planed to join up to each other, I got out glue and clamps. Despite the damp of the day, I got the glue dried. Sometimes it pays to bring things inside where the air is drier. I settled for setting my work out in the sun. It got the job done. That set aside, I got back to the framing.
Nothing much to it. One four by four was cut down to make two legs. They were planed where the two by four shoulders and feet are attached. I fastened them with deck screws until I ran out, then finished with ring shank nails. The shoulders are 10″ and the legs are fastened at the ends. This provides just about enough meat for the table to cover.
You can see where I had my anvil set in the meantime. Right on the ground, with an old rail tie plate for a bit of stability. Workable, but not comfortable.
The ground beneath my stand was scraped with a flat shovel. I seated my stand there and kicked the dirt back up around it. Underneath this is limerock, a rather stable base. I leveled the stands table, which was pretty close from the start. Lots of little kicks and hammer taps. Seems to be staying where I want it.
I drilled pilot holes for each of the nails holding the table to the stand. I believe I drove four into the legs and two into the shoulders. I drilled the pilot hole to prevent the very dense wood from splitting. The pilot hole did not extend below the table material, so the nails are very tightly seated. All there was to do after this was mount the anvil.
The top of the anvil sits at 36″ from the ground. Some might say this is too high. It is working well for me so far. The anvil is secured on with 8d nails clenched over on two corners, and the same through washers on opposite corners. I did some rougher banging on it with the sledge to see how it felt (I have a heavy piece of work that needs a lot of flattening). No signs of movement so far. Three pounds of hammer is really the extreme of what I use with this anvil.
The entire construction of this took about half a day, in between playing with babies and eating food. I enjoyed it, and I really enjoy having more floor space in the shop. This was completed the Tuesday passed, at the time of this posting. It is the newest work so far showcased here on our website. I am excited to have you see the shop grow and change with us.
We have got some things done since we posted our last articles Monday before I built this anvil stand. I am excited to publish an article or two tomorrow with new pictures and information on what we have been doing.
Thank you for reading and looking at the pictures. I hope you found some of the information useful. I enjoy writing these articles for you, and hope you enjoy reading them. If you like, send me an email. I would love to know what you think, what you like, and what needs improvement.