Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blacksmithing : Anvil Height

What is The Best Height For My Anvil?

Hi David
Thanks for all your emails they are really inspirational, I have just got my old gas forge, anvil and leg vice back off my uncle who never used it a bit rusty but no worse for wear, my question is this I have read somewhere that the correct height for a anvil is if you stand up straight with your arm down by your side and make a fist the height from the floor to your knuckles would be the ideal height to the top face of the anvil is the correct, my anvil and steel stand is about that height but it just feels a bit low for me? the other thing is if I use a stump of wood as a anvil stand what is the best wood to use?

Many of the old books on blacksmithing use this standard for anvil height. I too have always found this a bit low for several reasons. If your arm is close to full extension, the repeated impact can damage your tendon in the elbow if not the joint as well.

I have my primary anvil set at wrist height as I stand beside it. This creates more flex in the arm acting as more of a shock absorber. I do lose a little power having this flex but I prefer to err on the side of self preservation.

The other issue is that the lower the anvil is placed the more you will find yourself bending over. This creates strain on your back. Some thing to be avoided in later years. This is especially true of light work where you tend to get closer to see what is going on. Heavier work should be done in a more vertical position.

Mounting the anvil.

Mounting on a stump is good. I am not sure that the type of wood makes as much of a difference as the weight. I have seen some steel anvil stands (3 leg) that were quite heavy and worked well. The important part of this is that the anvil needs to be bolted securely down to the stump. This effectively adds the weight of the stump or stand to the anvil. In some cases this could add an extra 100 lbs. If the anvil just rests on top it, it looses efficiency as it bounces around.

This will help in the stability and the performance of the anvil.

A box filled with concrete with bolts for tieing down could be effective. I don't like the sand boxes as the anvil floats too much on top and you have to keep leveling it.

A lot comes back to personal preferences, but this is what I have prefered in the past.
Hope this helps.