Over the years I have acquired three anvils.

My three Anvils

In front is the one I have had the longest. It weighs about 12 founds and no obvious markings to identify it.

In the back is a Made-in-China anvil that I bought from Horror Fright Harbor Freight. It claims to weigh 55 lbs, but it seemed to be only about 51 when I weighed it yesterday.

The middle anvil weighs about 21 lbs. Unlike the others, the hardie hole is toward the front, near the horn. It is also rather small. I found this at a local used tool shop that has since, alas, gone out of business. It looks it was homemade, in somebody’s shop. Not quite the more standard shape of the other two, but it has a certain primitive appeal.

I read Anvils for the Woodshop with considerable interest, since I am coming to metalwork from a woodworking background. The author suggests two simple tests for the hardness of an anvil:

  1. Strike the anvil with a hammer. A hard surface will give a clear ringing sound.
  2. Take an ordinary wire coat hanger and flatten it with a hammer on the anvil. If the anvil is really no mark will be left on it.

The first was a complete bust. I did not get a clear ringing sound from any of those anvils. I tried a lighter hammer. Seemed to be a bit more “ringing,” but the same on all three anvils. Inconclusive.

I tried the second (wire hanger) on the flat surface and the horn of all three anvils. No mark was left on either part of the two small anvils. There was a dent on the horn of the larger HF anvil, but, rather to my surprise, not on the flat surface. My expectations for HF products are not high.

If I do any serious smithing I will want a large anvil. The recommendations I have seen suggest you need one that weighs at least 100 lbs. I hope I can get by with the 55 lb. HF anvil for a while, and hold off on getting something bigger until/if I decide to seriously pursue smithing, if that happens. Finding out that the flat surface of the HF anvil is hard is encouraging.

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