Earlier this year, we posted a thorough guide on how to make a knife, where we covered the basic skills and tools you need to make your custom knife.
After you’ve learned the basics, you might want to develop a few more delicate skills so that you can refine your knife into a better, prettier, and sharper tool.
For that, you’ll need a solid anvil to create the perfect blade, such as the Happybuy Single Horn Anvil, which is the best overall anvil a knife aficionado like myself has ever tried. Combine that with a good belt grinder, and your knife will look more professional than you can imagine.
But if that particular anvil isn’t the perfect choice for you, then don’t worry as we’ve also tried and shortlisted other anvils.
So whether you’re new to knives or an expert knife enthusiast, read on as we review the 7 best anvils for knife making we tested.
Here Are the Best Anvil for Knife Making – Tried & Tested
- Weight: 66 lbs (30 kg)
- Hardy hole: 0.7 x 0.7’’(18 x 18 mm)
- Pritchel hole: 0.8’’ (20 mm) diameter
- Face: 11 x 4 5/8’’ (28 x 12 cm)
- Horn: 6’’ (152.4 mm)
- Base: 8 x 6’’ (20.3 x 15.2 cm)
- Rockwell hardness: 60
The Happybuy Single Horn is an excellent anvil for small smithing applications, making it great for knife making. And despite its small size, the Happybuy anvil is quite durable thanks to its steel face.
The Happybuy Single Horn anvil’s face is also polished well using quench treatment techniques, giving it even greater durability against heavy blows from almost all forge tools and resistance to corrosion and rust.
The anvil is constructed with cast iron and enforced with a thick paint finish that protects its face from corrosion. This makes the Happybuy Single Horn Anvil an excellent choice for amateur and non-professional blacksmiths looking to build small tools, such as blades.
However, if you’re a professional blacksmith or even an amateur who’s looking to build more significant tools, then this anvil might be too brittle for your work.
You’ll also have good wiggle room with this anvil since its face is decently sized at 11 x 45/8’’ and its base is 8 x 6’’.
The Happybuy anvil weighs 66 pounds, which is moderate relative to knife making anvils, but relatively light compared to other hard-use anvils. So we’d say it’s in the sweet spot of not too heavy and not too light while still being easy to move around.
- Face made of durable steel
- Face finished with thick painting coat to prevent corrosion
- Good weight
- Can break if you drop or mishandle it
- Cast iron too brittle for more than amateur knife making
The Happybuy Single Horn anvil is a great pick for amateur knife makers and beginners who are looking for something durable (relative to knife making anvils) and moderate in weight. It’s also a multipurpose anvil that you can use to make other small tools, such as scissors.
The Ridgid 69622 Model 5 is a beautiful piece of German craft and is an excellent anvil for those looking to make knives alongside other steelworks or if you’re looking to potentially expand your skill in the future.
The Ridgid 69622 Model 5 is made of high-grade Peddinghaus steel and, unlike some other entries, is a forged metal that’s designed to endure hard blows and high temperatures.
Ridgid itself, the company that makes the 69622 Model 5, is renowned for its large and heavy anvils that they make for professional blacksmiths and their heavy work.
However, the 69622 Model 5 is a smaller version of what Ridgid usually makes, but this doesn’t mean this anvil is flawed or can’t get the job done.
The 69622 Model 5’s face is treated through an induction hardening process that adds to the anvil’s durability. This also makes the 69622 Model 5 able to withstand extreme temperatures of the metals you’ll pull out of the forge right away, as well as hard hammer blows.
When you see this anvil, one quirk you might notice right away is the unusual placement of the holes. Anvils typically have the hardy hole right next to the pritchel. However, the 69622 Model 5 has each hole on one end of the face far apart from each other.
Moreover, the 69622 Model 5 is uncharacteristically light for a work-grade anvil, weighing only 77 lbs, making it quite easy to transport.
- Drop-forged, made of durable materials
- Induction hardened
- Has two horns
- Can withstand heavy workload
- Pritchel hole too small
- Hardy and pritchel hole too far apart
Ridgid once again delivers with their anvils, and their knife enthusiast fans would be happy to see this small-scale version of the regular large Ridgid anvils since it combines the best of both worlds.
If you’d prefer a more extensive anvil, we’ve also reviewed the larger Ridgid 69632 in this guide.
- Weight: 100 lbs (30 kg)
- Hardy hole: 1 x 1’’ (25.4 x 25.4 mm)
- Pritchel hole: 0.5’’ (12.7 mm) diameter
- Face: 16 ½ x 4’’ (41.9 x 10.16 cm)
- Horn: 10 ¼’’ (26 cm)
- Base: 11 x 9’’ (28 x 22.86 cm)
At first glance, the JHM Certifier may look like another classic anvil, but it’s special because it’s made of high-grade and heat-treated ductile iron. And at the same time, the Certifier isn’t a huge anvil, weighing only 100 lbs, making it easily portable.
You might find the Certifier a bit funny-looking since its face is so much longer than it is wide. In terms of numbers, the face is 16.5’’ long and only 4’’ wide, which is a much shorter width than most anvils.
What this means is that you get a bit less space to move around back and forth, but much more to the side, so you’ll probably be holding your metal in a different stance than you would with other anvils.
The horn is 10.5’’ long, but only less than half of it is actually round, which is a bit quirky but can be used to make interesting bends and curves if needed.
Since it’s made of ductile iron, the Certifier can withstand heavy blows and high heat, but it won’t handle more extensive operations. However, for a knife maker, the Certifier is way more than enough to practice their craft and possibly expand a bit more on that.
- Made of enforced ductile iron metal
- Metal is heat-treated to add strength
- Can last for years or even decades if treated properly
- Anvil is much longer than it is wide, so less space to move
- Less than half the horn is rounded (only a con if you plan to use it)
The JHM Certifier is an excellent pick if you’re looking for an anvil made of ductile material that is somewhat heavy but still light enough for you to move around. Also, it can handle your knife making processes and a bit more, but treat it gently, and it might last you for decades.
The second German anvil on our list is the 69632 Model 9, also made by Ridgid.
The 69632 Model 9 is a sturdy and rigid work-grade anvil that’s excellent for professional blacksmiths whose work involves massive hammer strikes and scorching forge temperatures, who also want to incorporate knife making into their routines.
That’s because the 69632 Model 9 weighs a whopping 170 lbs, is drop-forged from high-grade Peddinghaus steel, and its face is ground and induction-hardened to add strength and rigidity.
And with two horns, one rounded and one triangular, the 69632 Model 9 gives its users plenty of options to play with.
Just note that if you’re an amateur or small-time knife maker, then the 69632 Model 9 is an overkill for your craft, and we wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, it’s a great option for professional blacksmiths.
- Two horns
- Two types of cutting hole
- Too much for only knife making
The Ridgid 69632 Model 9 is an excellent anvil if you’re a blacksmith who wants to make knives alongside other extensive crafts since the anvil can withstand heavy hammer blows at high temperatures right out of the forge.
- Weight: 68 lbs (30.8 kg)
- Hardy hole: 1 x 1’’ (25.4 x 25.4 mm)
- Pritchel hole: 0.5’’ (12.7 mm) diameter
- Chamfered hole: 1 ¼’’ (31.75 mm)
- Face: 6 x 4’’ (15.24 x 10.16 cm)
- Base: 11 x 9’’ (28 x 22.86 cm)
- Rockwell hardness: 48
If you’re looking to achieve outstanding levels of detail in your knives with a small anvil, then the NC Big Face is your go-to.
That’s because the NC Big Face has two holes that give you more options when hammering your blade: a chamfered hole on the anvil’s heel and a punch slot milled across the anvil’s face.
Combine these with the excellent hardy and pritchel holes on the anvil, and you have plenty of utility to stylize your knife.
And since it weighs only 68 lbs and is cast with plastic steel, the NC Big Face is a great lightweight anvil for amateur knife making, but nothing beyond that.
- Lightweight and portable
- Has a chamfered hole and a punch slot
- Relatively cheap
- Not durable
- Can’t forge brittle materials
The NC Big Face anvil is an excellent choice for knife makers looking to add great detail to their products with a small anvil since it has a punch slot across the face and a chamfered hole in the heel.
So far, we’ve covered some big and mean anvils and other moderate-to-small ones, but the TruePower 22-pound anvil is much smaller than these.
For reference, the TruePower anvil weighs only 22 lbs (hence the name), making it very easy to move around anywhere in your workshop.
It’s also a pretty small anvil at only 6 ¾ x 3’’ of face length and width. However, this is good enough for knife making, so it shouldn’t be a problem unless you want to make something else.
As for the material, the TruePower anvil is made of cast iron and has a paint coating to protect it from rust. But since the anvil’s face isn’t heat-treated, it could break if you subject it to more pressure than it can endure, so you should be careful with this one.
Moreover, the TruePower anvil doesn’t have a hardy hole or a pritchel hole, but a beginner who’s just starting will likely not need those anyway.
Other than that, the simplicity, small size, and affordable price tag of the TruePower anvil make it an excellent pick for complete beginners who are just starting, especially those who aren’t ready to fork a large wad of cash for an anvil.
- Small and lightweight
- Not durable enough for moderate or heavy work
- Might break if subjected to frequent hammering
The TruePower 22-pound anvil is a good pick for beginner knife makers who are just starting out and are looking for an affordable and portable anvil that can fit anywhere in their developing workshop.
If you’re on a seriously tight budget but still want to give knife making a go, then it’s time to scale down and look for smaller options, and the best of those is the Tandy Leather Mini Anvil.
First of all, the Tandy Leather Mini Anvil is tiny, as you can tell by its name, weighing only 3 lbs and measuring 5 ¼ x 15/8’’ in face diameter.
These dimensions may make you think this is a children’s toy, or you might consider letting your child try it out. However, the mini anvil is made of cast iron, after all, and it’s a real anvil.
It’s also super cheap, so you can try your hand at knife making while paying an hour’s worth of wage or less.
- Super light and small
- Made of cast iron
- Only suitable for making medium-sized knives at best
- Would easily break under moderate or repeated stress
The Tandy Leather Mini Anvil is a good pick if you want to try knife making at a minimal upfront cost. And who knows, perhaps it can be your stepping stone to more significant projects in the future.
Buying Guide: What to Look For In an Anvil for Knife Making?
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity that’s commonly associated with anvils. Many beginners think an anvil is nothing more than a thick metal brick and opt for a cheap one. However, a good anvil is the difference between the perfect blade and a jagged, dull, or uneven one.
So without further ado, let’s look at the factors you should consider before buying an anvil for knife making.
The anvil type depends on how it was constructed, and the two mainstream methods are forging and using cast steel.
Casting is when the manufacturer melts metal cast and pours it into an anvil-shaped mold with little to no refinement.
This may sound like a lazy idea, but it’s commonly used because it makes production easier and faster. It’s especially easier to create good-looking anvils if you put effort into making a quality mold.
However, cast anvils are less durable than forged ones, which means you’ll find them for much cheaper on the market since they cater to amateurs rather than professional blacksmiths.
On the other hand, forged anvils are made by a specialized craftsperson using methods such as compression and temperature control. This makes the anvil more durable and adds to its lifespan, making it more suitable for the heavier workload of a full-time blacksmith.
Because of the delicate processes that go into making forged anvils, they’re more expensive than their cast counterparts.
Assuming you’re not a professional knife maker, you’ll want to get a cast anvil since forged ones would be too much for your hobby.
Anvils vary in weight, and some are way heavier than you would’ve guessed. For example, specialized anvils for large-scale smithing projects can weigh anywhere from 200 to 500 lbs.
The general rule of thumb for blacksmiths is that the heavier an anvil is, the better it is for the job since the extra weight adds stability.
However, as a knife maker, especially an amateur one, you don’t need such a large anvil, and so you should look for those that weigh under 100 lbs, or maybe even under 50 lbs.
Many common knife making anvils you’ll find in a shop or on Amazon weigh in the 20–50 lbs range, which is suitable for such small-scale smithing.
The anvil’s face is the main work area, so it should be the last thing to compromise on when buying an anvil.
The face itself should be made of hardened metal, such as steel or iron, or some equally strong material. It should also be completely flat and smooth because, otherwise, it wouldn’t really be an anvil.
The edges on the anvil’s face should be sharp, allowing for precise shaping of your blade’s corners. Though you can overlook this part if you find an anvil that you like but doesn’t have sharp edges since you can use the horn instead if needed.
Horns are a classic part of anvils, and they’re commonly used for bending objects or creating curves. However, for knife making, they’re honestly not used very often.
Some professional knife makers even use rectangular or square-shaped hornless anvils specifically made for blade-smithing because they’re pound-for-pound more efficient for that purpose than classic blacksmith anvils since all the mass is directly under the anvil’s face.
So if you find an anvil that you like but it doesn’t have a horn, you’ll most likely be good with it without the horn.
Your Skill Level
It’s important to pick an anvil that matches your skill level. For example, an expert knife maker will need a highly specialized anvil that can withstand their professional work rate.
On the other hand, a beginner wouldn’t need the world’s most expensive anvil to hit their metal on. And unfortunately, many beginners don’t know better and spend all their money on an extravagant anvil that’s overkill for their needs.
As discussed above, some anvils can really set you back some pretty penny, so when buying one, you should certainly weigh up your needs and your budget to be able to get the most suitable anvil.
Another option is buying a used anvil, but this can be fraught with pitfalls. So make sure to check every aspect of the anvil you’re buying, how used up it is, the condition of its different parts before making the purchase.
What Kind of Anvil Do I Need for Knife Making?
We recommend cast anvils for amateur knife makers since they’re designed for small-scale work rather than professional smithing. However, remember that they’re less durable than forged anvils and have a shorter lifespan.
How Heavy Should an Anvil Be for Knife Making?
If you’re planning to go professional with knife making, you’ll want an anvil that’s around 100-200 lbs heavy. However, for small-scale purposes, amateurs, and hobbyists, you’ll be okay with less than 100, depending on your situation.
Why Does Anvil Weight Matter for Knife Making?
The anvil’s weight generally signifies its durability, longevity, and stability. Historically, lighter anvils were used for knife making, since knives are relatively small and light objects that are easier to work on than, say, swords.
That means a heavier anvil is too extreme if you’re only using it to make knives. However, a hefty investment might last you a lifetime, so it’s important to buy based on your exact situation.
What Is the Best Size Anvil for Knife Making?
Compared to most blacksmith endeavors, blade-smithing is a small-scale job that you don’t need the biggest anvil in the world for, so you can go with an average anvil if that suits your budget. However, a larger anvil gives you more wiggle room, so you might like that as well.
Are There Alternatives to Anvils?
If you can’t afford to buy an anvil or you’re just looking for an alternative method, you can go to a nearby construction site or scrapyard and find some flat and rigid metal to use as an anvil alternative.
You can also try making your own homemade anvil, which we made a guide on earlier this year.
That’s it for our guide on the best anvils for knife making! We’ve covered a few varying options, some of which were made of cast metal while others were forged, and some were bigger or smaller than others.
In the end, we believe the Happybuy Single Horn anvil is the most balanced and best overall option for amateur knife makers. However, if you’re looking for a similarly forged anvil, check out the Ridgid 69622 Model 5.