DIY Blacksmithing Anvil
Blacksmithing is a useful trade on a homestead and can be a very stress-relieving hobby. Buying blacksmithing equipment, however, is expensive and the proper supplies can be hard to find. Especially a good anvil. Which is exactly why we've created a DIY anvil tutorial to fulfill your blacksmithing dreams without emptying your bank account.
Follow the instructions below to make your own homemade blacksmithing anvil
This post is an adaptation of Instructables' Railroad Track Anvil
- 18 inch section of a railroad track
- 18 inches truck leaf spring
- Water and water hose
- Bolts and nuts
Step 1. Find a good piece of railroad track scrap
Step 2. Shape the railroad track roughly into an anvil shape.
Basically, an anvil shape amounts to a horn on one end and a square on the other end. Soften the metal with fire for easy cutting and shaping. A torch would be most ideal – it is easy to manipulate and saves a lot of time.
Step 3. Make a flat surface on the top of the anvil.
This is where the section of truck leaf spring comes in. Remove the temper from the steel to make it flat and stay that way – this process is called annealing. The simplest way to do it is to cook it in a forge until it gets red hot (literally), then take it from the heat and bury it in a big pile of ashes. This annealing process will remove the stress from the molecules of steel, allowing it to be easily bent and not spring back.
Once your spring section is cool enough to handle, weld the square, forward end to the base of the horn – the point where the triangular horn becomes the same width as the rest of the track. Weld it solidly. Because of the curve, the rest of the spring will be higher than the top of the track.
Flatten the spring section to the top of the track using clamps. Spot weld it in several places, then remove your clamps and weld the two pieces together. This will take a few rods and a lot of heat!
After welding, cut the end of the spring section off about 4″ from the rear (away from the horn) end of the track.
Step 4. Drill holes
A real anvil has two holes – a square one, called a hardy hole, and a round one, known as the pritchel hole. Drill a hole about 5/16″ in size – this will be your anvil's pritchel hole,
Step 5. Create a hardy hole
It's impossible to drill a square hole, so instead drill a 'round' hardy hole measuring approximately 5/8″. Tighten a bolt and nut through the overhang with the bolt on top, and weld the nut in place on the underside. To use, weld your hardy tools to the head of different bolts.
Step 6. The finishing touches
Fill a large metal bin (or trash can) with water until almost to the top and keep a hose nearby. Build a big pile of leaves, twigs, sticks, and larger pieces of wood near the can full of water. Light it and put your new anvil in it. Let it sit and cook for 30 minutes.
Wearing gloves and using a crowbar or large tongs, lift the anvil off the fire and drop it in the water. Then run!
The water will immediately begin to boil once you drop the anvil inside the can. Using the nearby hose, keep adding water to the can especially if it boils over. You want to cool the anvil quickly to reintroduce the stresses inside of the steel. Only this time, the anvil face will be hardened (not tempered) flat, instead of curved, as it originally was.
Step 7. Begin your blacksmithing projects!
That's it! The end result will be a perfectly usable anvil that will suffice general blacksmithing around the house or farm.
More posts about blacksmithing here.
That’s all, fellow homesteaders! Did you enjoy our DIY blacksmithing anvil tutorial? Let us know in the comments section below what troubles you had or what you did differently when making your homemade anvil. Do you have a blacksmithing project that's a staple on your homestead? Share it with us and we’ll give it a shot.
Do you have Instagram? Don’t forget to join us @HomesteadingUSA.
Click here to Like Us on Facebook.
Click here to Follow Homesteading on Pinterest.
This post is an adaptation of the instructable's' Railroad Track Anvil.
Being a retired welder, I would suggest that a bevel be ground on the lower edge of the spring before welding on the track section. This will give you a better weld sequence, 1 bead inside with 2 on the outside. All slag to be cleaned off after each pass, to minimize occlusions (pinholes) in the weld), While it would be hard to warp the track, the truck spring could warp if welded continuously. I would back step the welds, welding about 3 – 4 inches at a time. always starting a new weld 3 – 4 inches in front of the previous weld, alternating on opposite sides.
USMC / USCG Damage Controlman (Ret.) Former Shipyard welder also, approx 45 years welding experience..
Riley Carlson says
Thanks for your suggestions and your service!
r. dalton says
These instructions are not very clear at all! You never explain what a “truck leaf spring” is or where I’m supposed to get one. You talk about a torch being ideal for softening the metal – then you never use one. thanks for nothing.
Brad Osborne says
Truck springs are available at most scrap yards for pennies on the dollar or at a truck repair for a small sum.
Charles Stevens says
I’m a farrier and blacksmith. As track is 90 point carbon steel, don’t bother welding 60 point spring steel to it, your going backwards. Many beginning smiths start with rail, if you actually upturn it, you have a very solid 1 1/2″ x 3″ face to work on, the web can be ground to make a hot cut,wile the foot can be notched and ground to form a double horned bick. Lot less work and a better tool. If you want a bigger face use the face on a sledge hammer or flip the rail back over, you have it, use the whole thing.
Abigail Olsen says
Does anyone have any ideas on where to find a piece of railroad track scrap? I don’t seem to be able to find them “just lying around”…
Riley Carlson says
Try looking on Craiglist in areas surrounding yours or visiting local antique stores.
Gary Rudolph Ronan says
I know this is an old post but just fyi, you might find old railroad tracks in A local scrap yard. The only problem is you might have to buy the whole track as they wouldn’t have the time or wherewithal to cut one to the size you need!
That is the only place that I know you might find one other than the one your local Amtrak rides on and they really frown on such antics!!
mark lehto says
great article, it should be easy to build