An anvil is the most important tool a blacksmith could possibly own. A blacksmith carries an anvil with him wherever he goes. It is the basis of forge welding. However, due to its weird shape, some people may not understand the science behind its shape, how an anvil is used, and what are anvils used for.
The way an anvil is shaped isn’t inherently for good design, every angle of it serves a specific purpose. For instance, the flat face aids in hammering, the hollow pritchel, and hardy holes are this way to make holes into any metal material, the edged-step is used in cutting metal materials, and lastly, the curved horn helps the blacksmith in shaping metal material.
What are Anvils Used For?
Introduction to Anvils
An anvil is basically the main character when it comes to forge welding. An anvil looks like a block of metal that is shaped in a specific way and each part of it serves a purpose in the forge welding process. This tool has a flattened top that is used by a blacksmith to hammer any other metal into the desired direction.
In the metalwork world, a worker simply cannot exist without an anvil. It’s the main player in every project or task that requires working with metals. No matter the type of metal, an anvil is always used in the process of making it.
An anvil is an extremely high-duty tool. It basically tolerates any circumstance since its main purpose is to serve as a board to hammer metals on, it tolerates very rough hits by the hammer. Also, an anvil will remain unharmed after exposing it to extreme temperatures.
However, because of how important an anvil is in forge welding and metalworking, a manufacturer should perfectly construct it. Since that working with an anvil is an extremely dangerous thing, you need to make sure that the manufacturer constructed the anvil properly and in a secure way with high-quality materials.
Now let’s hop into how exactly what anvils are used for and how blacksmiths use them.
Using an Anvil in Blacksmithing
The blacksmithing process consists of predefined steps and techniques and aren’t subjective to each individual blacksmith:
Step 1: Deciding on Material
First, picking the iron metal or iron alloy: prior to initiating any forge welding process, you should decide on the material. Since blacksmithing is the art of working with iron metals or iron alloys, you have a variety of metals to choose from such as various kinds of steel or cast iron. Specifically since iron is now becoming unpopular because of the discovered benefits of using metals such as steel.
This explains why most blacksmiths opt for steel instead of metals, and this is how they decide on the right type of steel: you will need a low-quality steel metal piece since it will serve as your trial piece.
You must focus on starting with softer steel since hard ones are difficult to deal with. Working with a steel metal requires a blacksmith to know which temperature is suitable. To do so, start by heating one end of the piece and keeping the other one cool. Your goal is to reach a yellow glow when heating the other end. Make sure that the heated piece does not melt. We only want to heat it, not melt it. Expect to see sparks on the heated piece.
Step 2: Testing
The second phase is conformity that the blacksmith has the ability to work on the steel material. The phase starts as follows: the blacksmith grabs the heated piece of steel material and blows the hammer on it. It isn’t necessary to use an anvil in this step. This step is solely useful in testing whether or not you are able to forge strokes. What people miss out on is the technicality by which a blacksmith should blow a hammer, not how hard they do so. Hence, the prolonged need of practicing hammer blows.
Step 3: Strike and Shape
The third phase serves to turn the trial workpiece into a shaped object. Also known as strike and shape. This phase is where the anvil comes in handy. This is what are anvils used for. The blacksmith starts by shaping the workpiece to establish a base shape. In this step, the goal is to shape the round-shaped metal into a brick, or even transform a square-shaped metal into an elliptical shape. Of course, all of this is using the anvil and a hammer.
Step 4: Creating Details
Moving on to the last phase which defines the entire object. This step differentiates between a skilled blacksmith and an unskilled one. It is where a blacksmith’s expertise and skills come to test. In this step, we use the horn of the anvil to create detailed features on the shaped object.
Tips to Using an Anvil More Effectively
The first tip on how to use an anvil more effectively is to tap it. What does tapping an anvil mean? It means to tap the step of the face when you finish giving out a few hammer blows. We use this method to give a blacksmith’s arm a break. Also. for the sake of the verification of the last few strikes. Might as well be to control the rhythm of the strikes.
This situation requires the blacksmith to return the hammer back to its initial position. This position leaves an insignificant space between the anvil and the hammer. No matter how sure a blacksmith is about his striking and shaping expertise, it’s a smart move to reexamine himself every once in a while with these short intervals.
A blacksmith performs this method by solely tapping the anvil, not directly pounding it. Doing so might cause some fractures to its shape. Tapping allows the blacksmith to recover some energy to resume the job without having to stop for some rest.
Work with Wrists
The second tip to use anvils more efficiently is to work with your wrists rather than your shoulders. Disney movies have planted a picture of how blacksmiths work in our minds. I remember the moment in Snow White when a blacksmith would raise their hands all the way up to pound a piece of metal with a hammer. Let me burst your bubble. This isn’t how real life works.
Unlike the movies, real experienced blacksmiths use a hammer with only their wrist. Not only does this save a ton of energy, but also allows the hit to be much stronger and maintained. The wrist movement a blacksmith uses when hammering a metal leaves more space for precise detailing and having an overall stronger impact on the metal.
For safety, a blacksmith should follow an important rule of thumb. This rule implies that a blacksmith should treat every piece of metal around as if it’s hot. In case a blacksmith mixes up between metals in their hot and cold state. Usually, steel metals and some other kinds may appear dark and still be hot enough to cause a person big harm.
The use of gloves when dealing with any metal is also a rule of thumb. It goes without saying. A blacksmith should have a glove on as long as he’s in the job. Another thing is to avoid wearing any synthetic clothing while working. A blacksmith should have an apron on to protect himself from the dirt and preferably wear cotton clothes.
So, protective accessories on the job are non-negotiable. Especially when it comes to protective glasses. There are eyeglasses specifically for blacksmithing purposes. Don’t make the mistake of wearing any eyeglasses you find and assuming they’ll protect you from blacksmithing processes. There are ones specifically for blacksmiths that protect them from UV rays and potential hazards.
Anvils are a blacksmith’s best friend. A blacksmith simply cannot carry out his work tasks without the use of an anvil. There used to be metalworking without the innovation of an anvil. But it sure wasn’t as efficient and effective as it is now.
Metalworking is no easy job. Some people assume that trader jobs are easy and don’t need any make the same amount of effort an engineer would need to make. On the contrary, a blacksmith needs tons of knowledge about different metal alloys, tools, and processes. The processes used in metalworking require a vast background in chemistry. Since certain reactions could occur when two materials interact with one another.
It is of great importance that a blacksmith learns how to use anvils with a correct technique. Once they have sufficient training and went through some tests. A blacksmith should have knowledge about how to use anvils. Also, a blacksmith should focus on buying a high-quality anvil from a trusted manufacturer to avoid any potential hazards that may occur from using defective and cheap tools. I hope you find this article beneficial and has helped you understand exactly how to use an anvil.