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,
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