December 7, 2010
Anvil - pritchel hole
Courtesy Hemera/Thinkstock
The anvil’s pritchel hole (the small, round hole on the right) is used as a base for punching holes in metal.

Anvil use can be as simple as a base for straightening bent metal or as complex as making metal bowls or other decorative work. One of the simplest features of an anvil is the pritchel hole. It is used as a base for punching holes in metal. If the anvil you find doesn’t have one, you can substitute a bolster block. It’s a multi-hole, rectangular steel block that you can place on the anvil, positioning the selected hole over the hardy hole. With different size holes to choose from, the results will be more precise.

The horn is just that, a cone shaped projection for rounding metal shapes as well as working hot metal, drawing it out over the surface of the horn. Some anvils have a horn at either end or small ones to the side for specialized work.

The step or table is another very simple and functional part of the anvil. If you are going to use your anvil for cutting metal, this is the place to do it. The step is softer than the face, making it easier to redress or resurface if a chisel damages the step. An alternative to using the step is to place a piece of steel over the face for a cutting surface, or simply use a cutting edge hardy hole tool.

Placing your anvil is very important to stability and function. Our farm anvil sat on a section of log. It was not anchored, which it should have been for safety purposes. Most anvils have holes or feet to be spiked, chained or otherwise anchored. Other bases include timbers bolted together or a steel base.

Next week, we’ll take a look at anvil options.

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