Best Types of Blacksmith Anvils 2021 (Where To Buy An Anvil?)


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The Best Blacksmith Anvils and Metalworking Anvils 2021 (Type Comparison)

Anvils come in a variety of styles and weight classes, and it’s important to know what you need before making a purchase.

An anvil is a critical piece of equipment that has been used in blacksmithing for centuries. Its serves as a sturdy, solid surface to work metal pieces. Anvils are essentially metal blocks that typically feature three different work faces to shape a workpiece in a variety of ways.

However, early iterations of anvils were simply slabs of stone used as surfaces that help shape a metal object. As their function evolved with the times, they were created with stronger materials, such as bronze and wrought iron, especially during the Middle Ages.

Modern blacksmith anvils today are generally made of steel, consisting of more favorable metallurgical properties for modern uses and applications. In this article, we’ll cover the most common types of modern anvils, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each style in relation to blacksmithing and metalwork.


Where Can I Buy An Anvil? (Best Places to Purchase)

You can pick up new quality anvils from specialised retailers who focus on forging equipment, or even from popular online stores such as Amazon, Ebay or Cragslist. The latter two are more likely to sell second-hand anvils, but as anvils are designed to withstand a huge amount of wear-and-tear by design, second-hand is rarely a bad choice so long as you know what you’re looking for (see more on this below).

Second hand was, and still is, a popular choice due to cost savings, but anvils have surprisingly become quite affordable in recent years and you can actually pick up brand new anvils from many online stores at great prices. If there is a choice between new and old equipment, all other things being equal, we’d always recommend the new stuff, unless you’re looking specifically for something ‘worn-in’ for the aesthetic. Check below for current deals and prices on some top quality blacksmith anvil brands online:

RIDGID 69622 model 5 Forged Anvil, Peddinghaus Anvil
27 Reviews
RIDGID 69622 model 5 Forged Anvil, Peddinghaus Anvil
  • Made of drop-forged, high-grade steel for maximum strength and durability
  • Ground and induction hardened top face provides a lively work surface that withstands heavy blows
  • The model 5 Anvil has a 3-inch face width, 8-inch face length with a 5-1/2-inch horn, and its total...

Check Blacksmith Anvil Prices


The Anatomy of Anvils – What Does What?

The different work surfaces and features of anvils each have their own names. An anvil is made up of a face, a horn, a table, a hardie hole, and a pritchel hole. Each of these unique parts are further described in the following sections.

 

1) The Face of the Anvil

The face of the anvil is the flat surface located on the top of its structure. This surface acts as a stable base for striking metal workpieces, so it is the surface of the anvil that is most often used. Despite the fact that the face is not directly struck by a hammer, it is important that the face material can withstand heavy blows without breaking or losing its flat shape.

2) The Horn of the Anvil

The horn of the anvil is the pointed cone-like end that is typically considered the front of the anvil. This end looks very much like a horn and its curvature is best used to shape metal pieces into rounded shapes. This part of the anvil does not necessarily have to be as hard of a material as the face since it is mostly used for bending applications.

3) The Table of the Anvil

The table is also often referred to as the step, which is a narrow flat surface located between the horn and the face of the anvil. The table’s height is slightly higher than the horn and lower than the face. While this part can be used to cut work pieces on its edge, doing so can wear out its features if done often. Using the appropriate metal-cutting tools may be a better method of achieving the same result.

4) The Hardie Hole

The hardie hole of an anvil is typically located inside the surface of the face on the end opposite of the horn, also known as the heel. This hole has a square-shaped mouth that allows blacksmiths to hold rod-like tools such as chisels or swages. By securing these pieces, the hardie hole is a great tool that facilitates the bending of metal pieces and the hole-punching of forgings.

5) The Pritchel Hole

The pritchel hole plays a very similar role as the hardy hole. This hole is normally located a short distance from the hard hole inside the surface of the face, but its mouth is a circular shape. Its circular shape makes it an intuitive tool to use when punching rounded holes into a workpiece.


Buying Blacksmith Anvils – What’s Important to Know?

Although anvils are generally made up of similar features, purchasing an anvil should be done with careful consideration of all of the possible applications for which it will be used. Having a good idea of what to look for in an anvil is important to ensure that the product you ultimately purchase will work for what you would like to accomplish and will endure multiple uses.

1) Anvil Material

The material of which the anvil is made is a very important factor to consider when using or purchasing an anvil. Although anvils used to be made of stone, bronze and wrought iron, steel has mostly taken over the market due to its favorable properties and ability to be mass-produced.

Cast iron anvils are also available for purchase, but they are more brittle and have a lesser face rebound. Face rebound is basically a function of the hardness of the face. This factor determines the extent to which the force exerted on a workpiece lying on the anvil by a hammer (or other tool) is reflected by the anvil back to the workpiece itself after it is struck.

Harder metals typically have a greater face rebound, which generally makes them a better choice for anvil materials. Forged tool steel anvils are considered very effective under this category, but many blacksmiths also have cast iron and wrought iron anvils with a welded steel face on top.


2) Working & Forging Intentions

The applications for which you will use an anvil should be at the forefront of your thinking process when figuring out which type of anvil to buy or use. If it will only be used for a hobby from time to time, purchasing a very large, highly-expensive anvil may not be the best choice for your purposes. Some anvils can be highly specialized and others can serve more of a general purpose. It is also important to note whether some of the applications for which certain anvils are used overlap with those of other anvils.


3) Size, Weight and Shape

The size and shape of an anvil is an important aspect of its design and directly relates to the possible applications for which it can be used. The size of an anvil should be appropriate for the size of the material being forged and the tools that will be used to shape the material. Anvils can weight as little as a few ounces or as much as a few hundred pounds, so the range in size and weight is rather large. Typically, the heavier the anvil is, the easier it is to use. The shape of an anvil can also vary depending on its applications, therefore affecting its size and weight range.


4) Cost – How Much Are Anvils?

The cost of an anvil is dependent upon some of the factors previously discussed. The material from which the anvil is made can largely vary in pricing and so can the size and weight of an anvil. Since a small anvil typically contains less metal than a large one, and the cost of anvils is often expressed in terms of weight.

For example, smaller anvils can cost from $2-$5 per pound while larger, new anvils can cost $7-$9 per pound. This pricing means that you could end up paying hundreds of dollars for an average anvil depending on its quality and weight. The cost of shipping could also be another associated cost to consider if your anvil requires shipping, as the shear weight of the anvil may add a huge amount of expense. Second-hand anvils are also a popular choice, especially as you can sometimes pick them up for next to nothing, but you need to be sure you know what you’re buying so you won’t be left with 100+lbs of dead weight on arrival.


Best Blacksmith Anvils & Forging Anvil Types (Comparison & Reviews)

There are a few main types of anvils used for blacksmithing and forging. Each type has its own associated size, shape, and pricing. Although the purpose of some of these types of anvils can overlap, their intended uses can be very different and may be better suited for a unique task or application. These anvils are known as forging anvils, cast iron anvils, farrier anvils, stake anvils, bench anvils, and jewellers anvils.

1) Forging Anvils (Recommended for Blacksmiths)

RIDGID 69622 model 5 Forged Anvil, Peddinghaus Anvil
27 Reviews
RIDGID 69622 model 5 Forged Anvil, Peddinghaus Anvil
  • Made of drop-forged, high-grade steel for maximum strength and durability
  • Ground and induction hardened top face provides a lively work surface that withstands heavy blows
  • The model 5 Anvil has a 3-inch face width, 8-inch face length with a 5-1/2-inch horn, and its total...

Forging anvils are steel anvils that are most commonly used in blacksmithing. This type of anvil generally has a greater concentration of mass underneath the face rather than in the horn or the heel.

Forging anvils generally  range in weight from 7- to 200 pounds. Anvils that weigh up to 150 pounds are considered portable, and the heavier they are, the heavier the work they can handle. Most forging anvils used for heavy work are at least 100 pounds. Although a heavier anvil weight is usually preferred, light forging applications do not require such heavy anvils.

The steel material commonly used for forging anvils allows them to readily absorb and effectively reflect a force that acts upon a workpiece lying on the anvil. This characteristic is face rebound. The best forging anvils are made of forged tool steel because it is the most durable material from which anvils are made.

Forging anvils are often referred to as blacksmith’s and general shop anvils, because they can be used for many different applications. They typically have a more narrow, rounded horn to facilitate the shaping of rings. The relatively sharp edges of the face allow for the shaping of accurate corners of their workpieces. Some blacksmith’s anvils do not have a distinguishable “step” or “table” part, but just have the horn projecting away from the face. These anvils can be used for light forging and heavy forging applications. In fact, forging anvils can even be used to make horseshoes, which is the main purpose of a farrier’s anvil, but in a less specialized manner.

What is the Best Blacksmith Anvil? (Our Recommendations) 

Which forging anvils do we recommend? For the very best quality anvil, we recommend Rigid Peddingahus Anvils (pictured) which come with a life-time warranty and are incredibly high quality – for serious blacksmiths looking to really take their shop, business or hobby to the next level. For beginners or more budget conscious blacksmiths, Big Face’s NC Anvil Range is a fantastic middle-ground between quality and price. Highly recommended!

 

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Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Widely available
  • Strong material
  • Good face rebound
  • Can be expensive
  •  Can be very heavy (non portable)

2) Cast Iron Anvils

Olympia Tools 100-Pound Cast Iron Anvil (38-785)
575 Reviews
Olympia Tools 100-Pound Cast Iron Anvil (38-785)
  • CAST IRON ANVIL: Hammer and form any metal work piece with this 100-pound anvil featuring a graded...
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: This solid and durable cast iron anvil features secure holes on all four sides of...
  • MADE TO LAST: Our durable and long-lasting tools help you with home, garage & industrial projects....

Cast iron anvils are made up of cast iron, which is an iron-carbon alloy with a higher carbon content than wrought iron. Cast iron is considered a relatively brittle substance, so an anvil made up of this material is very susceptible to being chipped away after repeated use. Not only can cast iron anvils break easier than steel anvils, but they can absorb a high amount of shock from strikes on a workpiece due to its softer nature.

Unfortunately, cast iron anvils are often referred to as “ASO,” and anvil-shaped object, implying that they do not fulfill the intended purpose of an actual anvil.  Despite their negative characteristics, cast iron anvils are typically less expensive than other types of anvils, but this is mostly due to their lower quality. As mentioned before, a remedy or alternative approach for this issue is to simply install a tool steel face on a cast iron anvil.

What is the Best Cast Iron Anvil? (Our Recommendations) 

Which cast iron anvils do we recommend? If you’re on the market for a cast iron anvil, you can often pick them up much cheaper than steel anvils and still make them viable with a steel face, and for that job we recommend the 100lb Olympia Tools Cast Iron Anvil.

 

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Advantages  Disadvantages
  •  Less expensive than other anvils
  • Not the best face rebound
  • Brittle
  • Susceptible to deformation
  • Soft

3) Farrier Anvils

NC Big Face with Slot
49 Reviews
NC Big Face with Slot
  • 1/4" punch slot milled across face
  • Pritchel hole in heel
  • 1" hardie hole in heel

A farrier is a tradesman who makes and modifies horseshoes. Farriers use farrier anvils, which are highly specialized anvils. The defining characteristic of farrier anvils is its allocation of mass to its different parts. The mass of the farrier anvil is mostly concentrated in the horn and the heel of the anvil, which is quite different from that of the blacksmith’s anvil.

The mass underneath the face, referred to as the base, is relatively more narrow in the farrier’s anvil as well. Since its base is less dense, the farrier’s anvil has less face rebound and is not well-suited for general forging purposes. They feature clip forms that allow for the shaping and adjustment of toe clips on horseshoes.

Farrier anvils typically weigh between 70 and 150 pounds. As mentioned above, this weight range allows farrier anvils to be easily transported. Since farriers often have to travel to their clients for horseshoe fittings and adjustments, anvils that weigh any more than the specified range are simply not practical. The materials from which farrier anvils are made are typically ductile iron that has been hardened through forging or cast steel.

What is the Best Farrier Anvil? (Our Recommendations) 

Which farrier anvils do we recommend? For the best mix of quality, weight and portability, as well as a life-time warranty, we recommend NC Big Face’s Farrier Anvil.

 

Check Farrier Anvil Prices

 

Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Great for farriers and related applications
  • Portable weight range
  • Special features
  • Highly specialized shape
  • Not the best face rebound

4) Stake Anvils

Jewelers T Anvil Stake Metal Planishing Metalsmith Tool
  • This is a new double horn anvil
  • Has a round base with a stainless steel anvil with horn
  • This is a great tool for forming and shaping metal

Stake anvils are anvils whose base acts as a stake when supported by a stake bench or simply driven into a tree stump. These types of anvils are rarely used nor available today for heavy forging applications. However, smaller stake anvils are still produce today for light forging and jewelry applications that are no more than 20 pounds. Some of these applications involve the use of sheet metal as the workpiece or artistic iron work.

Stake anvils have many different styles. The blowhorn stake anvil is the most common type of stake anvil. It features a half cone with a flat top where the face of the anvil is typically located and a round cone where the horn is located. This type of stake anvil was often used to make brass horns instruments. The small stake anvils have a lot of shapes available for most specialized work.

 

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Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Many different shapes
  • Can be used for light forging or jewelry work
  • Rarely used today
  • Not used for heavy forging

5) Bench Anvils

Bench Pin and Anvil
77 Reviews
Bench Pin and Anvil
  • Ideal for the jeweler's workbench
  • Wooden pin and anvil
  • Can clamp onto any bench up to 2 inches thick

Bench anvils are small anvils that are weight up to 50 pounds. They are typically placed and used on a bench to act as supporting equipment while a workpiece is being hammered or shaped. The different styles of bench anvils stem from the prevalent London pattern, which have a large face and horn, but a smaller base. A lot of bench anvils are generally made of steel and railroad rail.

Since bench anvils are small in size, they are better suited for light forging and small benchwork. Small forging or blacksmithing anvils can also be used for these applications.

 

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Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Great for light forging
  • Portable
  • Different styles
  • Not very heavy

6) Jewelers Anvils

Flat Anvil, 3-1/2 Pounds | ANV-555.00
46 Reviews
Flat Anvil, 3-1/2 Pounds | ANV-555.00
  • Great for pounding wire, metal and other items for jewelry and crafts
  • Made of cast steel
  • Great for shaping metal

Jewelers anvils are generally the smallest and lighted anvils available, some only weighing a few ounces. Although they appear delicate, they are a great tool for jewelry work. These types of anvils have different bases. They can either have stakes that are supported inside a table or bench surface or a large base that supports strikes to the workpiece. The bodies of jewelers anvils are square with a long, rounded horn and a half-coned bick.

Jewelers anvils are typically made of forged or cast tool steel, which is a strong material for an anvil. The surface of this type of anvil is normally finished to provide a smooth surface on which to shape jewelry, which is a very delicate and precise task. Jewelers anvils may be small, but they can still be pricey due to their specialized design and purpose. Aside from the cost, jewelers anvils are widely available and can be easily purchased online.

 

Check Jeweler Anvil Prices

 

Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Lightweight
  • Great for jewelry work
  • Good material
  • Not very heavy
  • Highly specialized
  • Must have finished surface

 

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