The Anvil

Next to the  forge, the most important part of the Smiths equipment was the anvil, where all the hot metal was worked . Early anvils varied in design from square to torpedo-shaped. As they evolved one model, the  "London Pattern", square at one end and conical at the other, prevailed.

   Near the square heel are two holes. Holes are punched over the circular "pritchel" hole using a punch called a pritchel. This and the square swage hole, also takes the shanks of tools holding them steady while the hot metal is hammered over them.

       Most of the work is done on the face, which is covered with a welded plate of hard blister steel to withstand heavy hammering. Between the face and the pointed "bick" is a small ledge- "the table" which is softer than the face. This is used when iron is chiseled cold as a cold chisels edge would be damaged by a hard steel surface. The main purpose of the "bick" is to curve metal for horseshoes or forge links for chains.

    The anvil was raised to working height on a massive block of wood, usually elm, that was embedded in the brick, stones or beaten earth of the smithy floor. The block served as a shock absorber and gave some spring to the hammer. The recoil of a hammer from a well set anvil  took much of the effort out of lifting it. The basic tools of the smiths trade were "hammers"  and "tongs". He usually wielded a double headed "ball- peen hammer" weighing a couple of pounds. For small and medium sized jobs he used this directly on the hot metal but for heavier forging he simply tapped the meal to indicate to his assistant the target for the blows of a heavy striking hammer or "sledge". The smith tapped and the striker struck in easy  counterpoint.


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