Jewelry Tools: The Curse of the Ringing Anvil and Bouncy Bench Block, Part 3 – Anvil Envy

Who knew anvils could be sooooo exciting. Recent online buzz about these jewelry tools has even generated some anvil envy.

ABOVE: Judy Staby Hoch’s 35-pound studio anvil by Cliff Carroll.

For more answers about anvils and blocks, here’s a final roundup of information from experts, much of it from the Metalsmiths Coffee Shop on Facebook.

  • Bench blocks make great paper weights. Got lots of drawings in your shop and want to open a window on a windy day? Use a couple bench blocks to hold everything down, says Judy Staby Hoch.
jewelry tools: The larger Cliff Carroll anvil at Hoch’s studio. Carroll also made the stand.

The larger Cliff Carroll anvil at Hoch’s studio. Carroll also made the stand.

  • Beautifully polished anvils are great for metalsmithing. Hoch supplied two images of the ones in her studio—both made by Cliff Carroll of Colorado. The anvil on the wood-topped stand is held down with braces that Carroll sells. The second anvil is a 70-pounder. Hoch even visited Carroll’s factory and snapped a photo of him there. He’s an anvil celebrity.
Cliff Carroll. Image courtesy of Hoch

Cliff Carroll. Image courtesy of Hoch

  • If you are going to go with a bench block, consider a big one—say an 8x8x8-inch hunk of steel. This idea is from James Binnion. He bought his at a scrap yard. Braced to a stump, it’s even got a stake holder attached to the top.
  • Lisa Bialec Jehle made a field trip to Industrial Metal Supply in Sunland, CA, full of stacks and bins of metal blocks. However, not every piece of metal will work. You need polished, hardened steel. But, IMS may be able to advise you. They also offer laser and water-jet cutting services.
  • Check out the entire Metalsmiths Coffee Shop thread on bouncy bench blocks.
jewelry tools: James Binnion’s anvil is a block of 8x8x8 inch steel from a scrap yard. He attached a stake holder to the top and anchored the block to the stump with brackets.

James Binnion’s anvil is a block of 8x8x8 inch steel from a scrap yard. He attached a stake holder to the top and anchored the block to the stump with brackets.

Jewelry Tools: Betsy’s Anvil Solution

I decided to settle for a beautifully machined 4×4-inch Durston bench block weighing 3.45 lbs. from Rio Grande. The cost was $29 plus shipping. My hope was that our local machine shop could drill two holes in it so I could screw it down onto my stump when needed. Alas, it was not to be. To test the hardness, owner Craig Kubbe attempted to file one edge of the steel but got nowhere. His conclusion: he couldn’t drill it with the equipment he had. Another option would have been to cut holes with a laser or water jet system. But those resources aren’t readily available here.

Back in my studio, I discovered an easier solution. I remembered Julie Sanford’s idea of putting a piece of leather under the block to keep it from bouncing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any. So, I put a worn scrap of towel under the anvil and hallmarked some sterling silver as a test. No bounce. I pounded some wire solder flat. No bounce either. Problem solved. This block worked like a charm, even when I was using a heavier hammer.


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.


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