I want to make some weeder prototypes for digging out weeds with deep taproots, but I quickly realized that I need to make an anvil for this project. I considered my requirements and started accumulating the necessary components and tools.
I was able to score some discarded railroad spikes and a heavy steel plate. Sometimes you can find these along abandoned railroad beds.
Later, I had the opportunity to score a nice section of pine tree trunk that someone put at the curb after they cut down a dead tree in their yard. This tree section is particularly ideal because it retains the stubs of several substantial limbs. Perfect, it has built-in handles!
I already have a 3-pound blacksmith’s hammer, so I used that along with a railroad spike as a chisel to knock off all the dead bark. Insects and fungi will lurk under bark for years and I certainly don’t need either of those.
After that, I trimmed off some splinters with a knife, then rough sanded it with 36-grit sandpaper. Don’t waste a brand new sheet on this task; it will just get shredded. I save all my sandpaper until it is completely worn out, so that’s what I used.
Next, I placed the metal plate atop the stump and marked the position I want it. Marking the positions of the holes, I then bored countersink holes with a 1/2 inch spade bit. This makes driving the spikes a lot easier, and allays my fears of splitting the stump in the process.
Next, I treated the stump with mineral oil. This is kind of an optional step, but it really does help preserve the wood and keep it from cracking. I like to use mineral oil because it is cheap and nontoxic.
I suggest that if you decide to pursue a similar project, clean as you go. Sweep up the debris before it gets all over you and your space. Also, it’s a good political move to clean as you go if you are working in a common area like a driveway or sidewalk. People will probably already dislike all the noise you are making, so don’t make things worse with a mess.
Back to the stump, it’s now time to position the metal plate and start hammering in those spikes. I suggest that you start with one and give it a couple whacks to seat it. Then do the same with another spike, and another. Drive them incrementally in rotation so everything seats evenly.
Ideally, you want to use a sledgehammer for this, but since I don’t have one I made do with the blacksmith’s hammer. Use both hands to hold the hammer and a good pair of work gloves if you have them. Do not use a regular hammer, you will ruin it and maybe hurt yourself. Do use eye protection.
Driving the spikes will make a helluva racket. You might want to use ear protection too.
And here it is in all its homespun glory. Of course it’s nowhere near as good as an anvil you would buy. But I don’t have two bills to plunk down on one of those. For my purposes, this will do just fine.