Tuesday, January 16

2018 Anvil Buying Guide - Where to Buy Anvils Online and Get the Best Price

As a professional blacksmith I've used a wide variety of anvils. Some were large, old, and expensive. Others were less than 100 pounds, relatively cheap, and brand-spanking new. 
In fact, the two anvils I use on a daily basis are identical and they each cost around $270. They weigh 70 lbs. and have all of the features of a standard anvil: horn, hardie hole, and pritchel.

Being farrier's style anvils, they also have turning cams and a clip horn. I'm not a farrier, but these extra bits of anatomy have been helpful for creating shapes in hot metal over the years.

Both anvils are made by NC Tool Company out of North Carolina, one of the most reputable farrier and blacksmith suppliers in the country. They're responsible for the first gas forge I ever used and I've been happy with my pair of anvils.

Seventy pounds might seem on the small to you so let's take a look at the benefits of large anvils and just how much size matters.

Why You Don't Need a HUGE Anvil

The main upside of having a large anvil is the ability to work metal with a wider range of thicknesses.

Quick Rule: The bigger the anvil, the bigger the stock you can hammer on it effectively. 

That said, I rarely have a need for working steel over 3/4 inch thick. So my 70-pounders work perfectly. 

A second benefit of a large anvil is a wider and longer face. This gives you more room to work a piece of steel. This can be helpful with straightening and if you haven't quite gotten your hammer control down yet.

If you're still hitting the steel with more power than control, a large anvil may be the way to go. If you've developed some finesse with your hammer work, you should be able to move metal no matter the size of your anvil face.


- Larger anvils tend to be more expensive, both in sticker price and to ship. 

- There's more competition for larger anvils since folks find them more attractive than the small ones. This drives prices up.
- They're hard to move. In my shop at Brown County Forge, I like being able to move my equipment without someone else's help. There are a lot of days when it's just me working.

Now that we've worked through whether or not you truly need a big anvil, let's look at prices, sizes, and manufacturers that are available online and where to buy them. 

Where to Buy Anvils Online By Price and Size

We'll use 70 pounds as our minimum weight from here on out. You can work with a lighter anvil (even a piece of railroad track), but 70 pounds is a good place to start. 

I'm also going to avoid Harbor Freight anvils in this guide. They're useful tools and will work just fine. Don't stress about using Harbor Freight tools if that's what's in your budget.

$300 range

NC Big Face

NC Big Face 70 lb. - $360 (with shipping)

This is the anvil I use every day in my shop. 

$500 range

JHM Basic 70

JHM Basic 70 lb. - $550 (with shipping)

JHM is a popular choice for solo smiths and blacksmithing schools alike. 

Kanca is a Turkish manufacturer with a good reputation for solid anvils at reasonable prices with Rockwell hardnesses between 54-62 HRC. 

We have a 300+ pound TFS Double Horn in the shop that works great. Solid company. These anvils are ductile cast iron rather than drop-forged. (We'll look at the difference between these two at the end of this post.)

$750 range

Emerson is a popular choice across blacksmithing forums. 

JHM Certifier 100 lb. - $670 (with shipping)

The Certifier is a single horn anvil by JHM. Each one is poured in a Texas foundry before being tested for consistency and hardness.  

$1000 range

$1500 range

Shipping Costs

As you can imagine it can get pretty expensive to ship large hunks of metal. Depending on the retailer, you could pay 10% of the purchase price for shipping or up to $1-$2 per pound.

My top retailer choice in terms of anvil selection, price, and savings on shipping is Centaur Forge. You'll find that a lot of links above go straight to Centaur Forge's anvil pages

If you're interested in reading some reviews of a few anvil manufacturers like NC Tool Co. and JHM, I recommend taking a look at their Amazon listings here and here

(If you end up purchasing an anvil through some of these links, DIY Blacksmithing may or may not receive a referral fee. This in no way affects the purchase price for you.)

The Short List of Online Anvil Suppliers

Blacksmith's Depot - A great selection with full shipping prices from North Carolina.

Centaur Forge - Wide selection with the best prices on shipping up to 150 pounds.

Pieh Tool Company - JHM, Peddinghaus, TFS. Average $1 for shipping from Arizona. 

Have Questions? Leave a comment below and we'd be happy to answer them!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there Terran,
    Great blog and its great to see the black smitty world isn't completely gone, just like here in Australia. Please come and checkout my blog on all things Blacksmithing over at https://www.magnetics.net.au/blog