Uncovering the Mystery of an Anvil

An anvil is a sturdy and heavy metal tool used in many industries such as blacksmithing, metalworking, and forging. It has been around since ancient times and has evolved to become one of the most essential tools in any professional or hobbyist’s shop. This post will cover what an anvil is, its history, uses, materials, anatomy, tools used with it, maintenance tips, and popular brands.

what is an anvil

History of Anvils

The use of anvils dates back thousands of years. They were first used by ancient Egyptians, who employed them to shape copper and other metals into desired shapes. In fact, the earliest known anvil was discovered in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt and dated back to 1300 BCE. Since then, they have been an integral part of creating art from metal.

Uses for Anvils

Anvils are primarily used for hammering, shaping, and forming metals into desired shapes. Blacksmiths use anvils to create pieces of jewelry, horseshoes, furniture components, tools, weapons, sculpture and more. Metalworkers also rely on anvils for cutting sheet metal, bending rods, and flattening wire. The flat surface provides a stable base for projects that require precision hammering or forming.

Material Types of Anvils

Anvils can be made from different types of material including cast iron, wrought iron, steel alloys, and aluminum. Cast iron is often considered to be the best option as it offers superior strength and resilience while remaining affordable. Wrought iron is softer than cast iron but still highly durable and typically costs less. Steel alloys are the strongest and most expensive option due to their high cost and density. Aluminum is lightweight but not suitable for serious projects due to its softness.

Anatomy of an Anvil

An anvil consists of two main parts: a body and a face. The body is usually comprised of several distinct sections; the feet which provide stability when striking, the horn which serves as a long curved surface ideal for rounding edges, the heel which creates a flat surface great for straightening stock, and the waist which connects the various sections together. The face of the anvil is usually made out of hardened steel and features grooves and ridges designed to prevent slipping when working with metals.

Tools Used With Anvils

Blacksmiths often pair anvils with hammers or tongs to perform their tasks. Hammers come in a variety of sizes and weights so that you can find the perfect fit for your project. Tongs help grip onto small objects like nails and allow them to be manipulated easily. A leather-covered stump called a “swage block” may also be necessary for certain projects involving thin metals.

Maintenance Tips For Anvils

Anvils require regular care in order to remain functional over time. After each use, make sure to clean off any debris left behind from your work. Be sure to store your anvil away from moisture as rust can form quickly if exposed to damp environments. Finally, apply lubricant periodically in order to ensure smooth operation during future use.

Forging on Anvils

Forging involves using heat and pressure to shape hot metal into desired forms. On an anvil, this process requires repeatedly striking heated metal with a hammer until it takes on the desired shape. Properly maintained anvils offer a secure foundation that prevents distortion and uneven surfaces during forging operations.

Casting Metals with Anvils

Casting is another common practice that utilizes anvils. Sand casting involves pouring melted metal into a sand mold shaped to the desired form. As soon as the molten metal cools down enough to hold its shape, it needs to be quenched in cold water before being placed on an anvil to finish cooling slowly. This helps ensure uniform hardness throughout the entire piece once it is completely cooled down.

Unique Anvil Designs

Anvils come in many shapes and sizes depending on their intended purpose. Some designs feature pointed horns allowing them to cut through tough materials without shattering them apart while others are created with flat faces ideal for detailed filing work. Different finishes like polished or matte also exist depending on personal preference or necessity.

Popular Brands of Anvils

Today there are numerous manufacturers producing quality anvils suitable for both beginners and professionals alike. Peter Wright & Sons is one of the oldest makers of British style anvils still in production today, offering everything from tiny 20 pound models up to massive 500 pounders for serious industrial applications. Newman Tools Ltd produces classic American styles such as Hay Buddens and Fisher Norris at competitive prices. And Pieh Tool Company specializes in restoring vintage European style anvils for modern day use.


Anvils have been around for centuries and continue to play an important role in metalworking today. Their unique design allows them to be utilized for many tasks ranging from hammering and forging to filing and casting metals into specific shapes. No matter what type of job you’re tackling – be it artistic or industrial – owning a quality anvil is sure to benefit you greatly!

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