Anvil Stand

by Ben N on March 13, 2013

No, an anvil stand is neither a yoga pose, nor something done at a frat party. It’s simply a place to put your anvil. Think of it as a portable tree-stump.

The only thing is, I didn’t have one, so there was nothing to do but make it happen.I’ve been interested in blacksmithing for a long time. I always loved seeing the smith at a Rendezvous or Renaissance Faire as much as anything else there. On the other hand, it seems like one of those hobbies that requires some very special equipment.

While the basics aren’t too difficult, having just a bit of the right gear really helps. Earlier this winter, I threw together an improvised forge and had some fun heating and bending square-cut nails. With just reading a book and watching a video, I was off to a great start in blacksmithing.

A few weeks ago, I tagged along to an UMBA meeting, and spent a Saturday talking with smiths and watching demonstrations. As part of that, I bought a used 55 lb. anvil.

That’s not too big. Just a “starter anvil”. However, I wasn’t really happy with the hunk of log that I was using as an anvil stand. It’s not level, too low, and not exactly portable (especially when it freezes to my driveway in the winter!) So what I really needed was an anvil stand – a small and solid workbench to hold the anvil and associated tools.

Once again, I had the same project budget as usual – $0.

However, I was working construction last week, and part of my job was taking torn-out material from the household remodeling job to the dumpster. Of course somebody else sees garbage, and I see possibilities. I packed up some used lumber, still full of nails, into the back of  my truck at the end of the day.

After spending a little time removing the old nails, I had a nice small pile of 2×10s, 2×6s, and some cribbing that was sort of a super-sized 2×4. I would have liked to have used 4×4 posts for the legs of the stand, but since I had none of those in my supply pile, I instead screwed together pairs of 2×4s to make square legs.

Next, I cut two pieces of 2×10s to 18″ long. Together, the two pieces side-by-side would make an 18″ square table-top – large enough for my starter anvil (or even a future larger anvil) with plenty of room around it to set tools, and maybe a vise.

I temporarily tacked together the two planks to make the top, stood up the four legs, set on the top, and ran a few screws to attach it. Next, I cut 2×6s to 18″ and 21″ as an apron to go around the top of the four legs. Screwing those on to the legs and the top cross-braced the structure and it pretty much looked like a table!

I did the same thing with 2×6s around the bottom of the legs.

Next, I drilled 1/2″ holes through the 2×6 and the doubled-up 2×4s of the legs. That was too deep of a hole for the bit I had for my cordless drill, but I did have an extra long bit for a brace, which I used to finish the holes off with. Next, I ran long carriage bolts through the holes, and added a pair of washers and nut. All the hardware came from coffee cans in my Dad’s shop that didn’t sell at the last rummage sale.

Once tightened, those carriage bolts really hold on the legs!

With the stand flipped over, I added a couple extra-beefy 2×4s UNDER the table top to support and spread out the weight.

I really wanted to add some sort of metal reinforcement to the corners, but wasn’t sure exactly what. I had some old-fashioned hinges that would have made nice decorative elements, but because hinges are flexible, they only would have added rigidity in one direction. Since this IS an anvil stand, why not do a little blacksmithing to build the project?

I had some one-inch by 3/16th” thick flat metal scrap. I cut that into four one-foot long pieces – one for each corner. Then, I broke out the current version of the improvised forge, started a coal fire, and put in my irons. With the middle of a piece heated, I could easily hold it over the edge of the anvil, and beat it to a nice 90 degree angle. I also tried to give a basic little “fish-tail” to the ends of the stock. I also tried punching a nail or screw hole into one piece. It worked well, but was a lot of work given what I have for tools right now.

I brushed the soot and scale off my corner brackets with a fiberglass wire-wheel. I drilled a couple of holes in the brackets, and then nailed them on with old-school square-cut nails.

So, that’s where I am now. The Anvil Stand is most of the way done. It’s a sturdy little work-bench. Nothing too fancy, but it’s the right height and rock-solid. I still have to install the back two brackets. After that, I’ll put on a few hooks to hold my fire poker and hammer, and maybe nail a coffee can to it for water for quenching.

I’ll consider staining it, but will probably prefer a natural weathered look. We’ll see. For the moment, not a bad little project thrown together with no budget, and a whole lot of fun!

What do you think? Have you ever built one? Send me your favorite blacksmithing story or tale of workbench design!

’til next time,

-Ben

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