Setting Up A Blacksmith's Shop

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Updated Wednesday September 18, 2019. Under construction

Anvil height should be just touch the second finger joint. CLICK TO ENLARGEAnvil Stands Height is determined by the height of the blacksmith who works on it. The stand is built to allow the anvil to just touch the second knuckle joint of the smith's loosely clenched fist when standing straight and tall. See photo at right. If the anvil stand is made of steel or concrete then a shim of wood must be placed beneath the anvil to absorb concussion away from the stand! Oak being a good shim type wood for the purpose. Thickness of the shim should be at least 1-inch or more. Failure to use a shim when the anvil is used on a hard surface will cause the bottom of the anvil to wear and the waist to slowly bend over time.

Forge height is something each smith needs to work out for themselves based on weight and size of work and height of smith. It is the forge hearth height that is important rather than the height of the sides of the forge. The smith needs to be able to lift the iron in and out of the fire, from a comfortable position and height which allows the arms to be held down near the smiths sides while lifting and not reaching out in front of the smith. If the smith works with his arms raised in the air much of the time to work with the fire, then he will quickly develop a sore back and shoulders. It is best to set the height of the hearth at about level with the middle finger joints of the hand when the smith is standing straight with his arms relaxed and making a loose fist. Somewhere close to this level should be comfortable for any blacksmith. The level of the top of the forge hearth is set to this level- sides or edges of the forge are not included in this measurement. An average height for a forge hearth is around 31" or 31-1/2" tall measured from the floor.

To measure for height, stand straight and tall, arms by sides loosely, measure from floor up to the second finger joints of the hand or to a point midway between the second finger joints and the knuckle joint of the hand. This measurement is the correct height of the hearth for a general purpose forge.  If the smith is designing a custom made forge, see my Forge Design pages for more info. Planning the forge includes the theories for height and size of forge as well as styles and reasons for them.

Legvise mounted to steel bench with wood shim. Click to EnlargeVise stand and tongs rack. Click to EnlargeLeg vise (Post vise). The vise is mounted to either a tree stump placed in the floor, or to a wooden work bench or a steel bench with a wooden shim between the mounting plate of the vise and the steel table. Never mount the leg vise to a concrete or steel bench without a thick wooden shim between them or the mounting bolts will quickly be worn out or pulled out due to concussion. Adjust the mounting bracket on the rear jaw to fit the height of the bench or stump.

Place the vise in an area of the shop that allows open access all around the vise for at least several feet. Keep in mind that you may be placing long bars in the jaws of this vise so that the bars extend for a long distance sideways from the vise (parallel with the jaws). You will want room around this vise for working and maneuvering tools. A wide open path from the forge to this vise is needed to allow long bars to be moved from the fire to the vise without obstructions. The bench or stump must stand solid without wiggling during work. A wiggling vise is annoying and may interfere with work. The photo here shows this vise mounted to a steel 3-legged bench with a wood shim to absorb concussion between the vise and bench. This bench is counterweighted with a water barrel and a large set of tool racks (later filled full with tongs and hammers and clamps).

For more on legvises go to the Legvise page.


Latest update Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

This page created August 26th, 2001.