How to Make an Anvil for Prototyping Garden Tools

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Homemade anvil

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.

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