Anvil for is one of the most important tools the blacksmith and it has been constantly evolving. The first anvils used in ancient times were mere stones. Historians believe that the metal objects for forging iron appeared during the bronze age. Currently, anvils of blacksmiths, for making the fence gate, outdoor lighting, handrails and decor details, are made of steel.
Over the centuries the anvil shape has evolved from simple panel to its modern appearance. It is believed that the closest to the modern version of anvil was made at about 1800 in London. Although often the size of the described tool is different, but it’s basic characteristics and design are the same: a horn, a table, a face, a pritchel hole, and a hardie hole. The horn of the front part of the anvil used for metal bending. This section allows the smith to bend the workpiece in either direction, depending on which part of the horn is used. Sometimes, anvils are made with more than one horn of a different size and shape.
The table is a part following the horn and a little below the main face of the anvil. With the help of the edge of the table, it is easy to slice off the unnecessary metal parts. On the other hand, experienced blacksmiths often use other tools to cut off metal as the frequent use of the table can make it dull.
The face is the main part of the anvil on which the main metal forging works are carried out, whether to make a fence gate or an outdoor lighting. This part also has two holes, usually one is round and the other rectangular. Interestingly, edges of the face are often rounded, to prevent marks on the article during forging.
The rectangular hardie hole enables to fit a variety of auxiliary tools in the anvil: chisels, bevel and others. These tools can also help to shape the processed workpiece. The hardie hole is also used for metal bending.
The purpose of the round pritchel hole is not very different from the rectangular, other than in its shape. These holes can also help knock out holes in the workpiece.
If you have ever watched a blacksmith working, you saw that he strikes the workpiece with the hammer more than once, following several hits on the table or the face… Often you can hear that this action is performed for cooling the hammer, which warms up when forging the metal, however, the opposite is true. In fact, the blacksmith’s goal is to keep metal heart as long as possible and the anvil and hammer warmed up from the strokes help to keep it warm. However, this statement is not quite true.
As in life, so in smithery, there is no one single truth on issues such as this. Some smiths claim that they hit the anvil only to rest the hand and not to lose the working rhythm. On the moment of the impact on the anvil the master has time to look at the article and decide where to strike the hammer next, saving the time in preparation for a new strike on the metal. Incidentally, almost no force is used for the blow to the anvil, as the blacksmith does not want to damage the anvil. Any dents will subsequent be imprinted on all articles and will continuously interfere with the proper performance of the work.
Finally, one interesting fact – people are not the only form of life using anvils. For example, chimpanzees use trees and stones instead of anvils in order to smash the nuts. Some species of throstles smash snail shells to the stones or trees. So it can be assumed that the anvil in the history of mankind has been used since the very beginning. Nowadays, this tool helps to create beautiful fence gates, outdoor lighting, metal railings or other forged and not only forged articles.