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On Old Anvils: “The time has passed when we must go to England for our best anvils.”

The steel mill sky is alive.
The fire breaks white and zigzag
Shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
Man is a long time coming.
Man will yet win.
Brother may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can’t be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise,
You can’t hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march:
“Where to? what next?”

Carl Sandburg

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Venlet December 18, 2020, 12:11 PM

    Lay me on an anvil, O God.” Also from Sandberg. Prayers of Steel Solid imagery.

  • Aggie December 18, 2020, 1:06 PM

    There’s a whole plethora of ‘anvils’ out there courtesy of the cheap manufacturing industry in China and the East. Lots of anvils to choose from, but as the Essential Craftsman says, getting a true hand-forged one is not easy. I’ve been looking for some time – real ones go into the thousands of dollars. Blacksmiths derisively call these newly-minted Chinese wonders ‘Anvil-Shaped-Objects’, because of course they are poured into a mold instead of being forged, and some of them are so bad they even have bondo filling in the casting defects, under the shiny paint. If you are reading a blacksmithing blog and see ASO, now you know what it means.

  • ghostsniper December 18, 2020, 2:08 PM

    Since I didn’t win the contest last year I am still looking too, most likely in vain.
    So I’ll keep beatin’ the devil out of my railroad track.

  • Bruce Wayne December 18, 2020, 5:11 PM

    My Mousehole anvil was made in England between 1854 and 1875

  • Snakepit Kansas December 18, 2020, 6:22 PM

    Well I use the same improvised tooling as Ghost. I have an 18″ stretch of railroad track in the garage. If something needs some pointed forming, I’ve used the corner of my old Craftsman table saw.

  • TC December 18, 2020, 6:49 PM

    I’ve got two inherited chunks of rail that served my great grandfather (a metalworker and plater) and grandfather one my side of the family, and another that came my wife’s great grandfather’s farm. I expect to pass them down to my kids. Forged anvils around here start around $500 and go steeply north from there.

  • Terry December 18, 2020, 7:47 PM

    My Grandfather was a blacksmith. He had a sizable blacksmith shop at the gold mine the family owned and operated. There were two or three large anvils, a huge forge, air blower and what seemed like hundreds of special tools for the anvils.

    He had a smaller blacksmith shop in a shed at the home a mile from the mine site. He was a very powerful man with real muscles in his arms, not fake muscles as per playing with weights.

    One of my brothers has all of the blacksmith tools and other items from that mine. He knows how to use every item as taught him by grand dad.

  • Anonymous December 19, 2020, 12:14 AM

    A good anvil is nice to have.
    Every man should have a good anvil. Or several.
    Today most don’t.
    Not even a lousy one.

  • James ONeil December 19, 2020, 10:38 AM

    Like Ghost & others I’ve a nice length of rail anvil. I mounted it on a 16 inch steel I beam base and find it quite satisfactory though I gotta get around to cutting a hardie hole in the I beam.

  • PubliusII December 19, 2020, 4:25 PM

    Scott Wadsworth is absolutely marvelous. Whatever your workshop skills are, you’ll get something — and sometimes a lot — from his videos. And keep up the good work.

  • Boat Guy December 21, 2020, 2:28 AM

    Anvil – the real thing, not those produced by communist slaves – are true wonders and emblematic of our civilization; yet a skilled worker can produce wonders on a piece of rail.
    My anvil lives at our refuge, I don’t get to see it often enough, much less work it; I hope the day comes soon when we both get to produce something worthwhile. Unfortunately I suspect we’ll be forging plowshares into swords; that will be worthy work if my grandson can then return the plowshares to their form.