Forging Knives

Making an Anvil

Updated 4/24/08

To forge a knife you'll need six things:

1. Something to pound on (anvil)
2. Something to pound with (hammer)
3. Source of heat
4. Something to pound (steel)
5. Coolant
6. Knowledge of the process

There's a belief that technology sprang from the top of an anvil. That the things used to make the things used to make machines were anvil forged. It's a nice thought.

We'll start with the anvil because it's body/base will be made of concrete and needs about four weeks to cure properly, during which time we can be doing other things. Concrete density is in the range of 110 pounds per cubic foot.

Take the distance from the floor to the top of your knee while comfortably seated and wearing work shoes, then subtract 2 inches. This will be the height of the anvil. We'll be forging sitting down. That right, seated!

In theory, an anvil face needn't be any larger than the hammer face. For most knife blades, an anvil face of three or four inches square is plenty.

Tube Form Anvil


1 sack Quickcrete 80# ACE Hardware
8" concrete tube form, 4' long ACE
1 tube Silicon chalk ACE
A couple or three big hands-full of fiberglass strips ACE
4" x 4" x 3/4" steel bench block ---- Search the web for -steel bench block-, here's one for $14.

1. Cut the form tube to the anvil height minus 3/4". One 80 pound sack of Quickcrete will fill a tube 22" tall. If taller, have some gravel or stone filler on hand.

2. Mix concrete with fiberglass reinforcement and fill the tube.

3. Wait 20 days, then strip away the form tube.

4 Clean the bench block with acetone, chamfer the edges and affix to the top of the concrete column with silicon chalk.

A steel bench block is hard (about HRC 56) and smooth. Use this anvil for finish work.

Bucket Anvil


Five gallon plastic bucket ACE
1 sack Quickcrete 80# ACE
A couple or three big hands-full of fiberglass strips ACE
4 swivel rollers ACE
Big chunk of steel
Silicon chalk ACE

Subtract the height of the rollers and the chunk of steel from the Forging Height. Fill the bucket to that depth with fiberglass reinforced concrete. Let set about a day and then turn the bucket over and drill the holes for the wheels. Just drill right through the plastic bucket bottom. Let the concrete cure, strip off the bucket, install the wheels, affix the chunk of steel on top with the silicon and you've got a heavy, mobile anvil. This the workhorse anvil.

Modified Stake Anvil


4" steel pipe two inches shorter than the Forging Height
Drill and tap 3/4" hole in the center of a 3/4" x 4" x 4" hot-rolled plate
Weld plate on top of pipe
Fill with concrete with 3/4" bolt fully screwed into place. When concrete sets, remove bolt.

Now you can fashion a multitude of interchangeable special anvil shapes out of the heads of 3/4" bolts. Use a nut as the main bearing surface. This anvil is for special shapes and projects.

Anvil collection with chair for seated forging

If you want to go the classic anvil route, try and search for -anvil-, they have a couple inexpensive 55 pounders. Start going up in weight and things get expensive. If you want a big serious traditional anvil, read this.