Which anvil?


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also depends on nail - some eg from nail guns, are quite hard
Thanks Danny, tho it is where the edge of the (presumably) hardened lump hammer face hit that the dents were created. The nail was a regular steel one, and only made a slight mark.
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Progress - we need to put stabilisers on the oak block, tho it works ok as is, and I started this morning removing wood for a 'forming stump' with an angle grinder and 40 grit. What a mess, thankfully I did it outside and the gales took most of the dust away. It's pouring now so refining the shape will have to wait.

If you're aiming to do forging, there's not much alternativce to a proper steel anvil. But for occasional heavy/hot work, I'd vote for a piece of rail.

Mine is 350mm. of 65kg rail - so, around 20kg. Bt more importantly, it's made of 1084 rail steel: with 0.7 to 1.0% Manganese, so it's very tough, and, most imprtantly, work hardening. So, the more you bash on it, the harder it gets..

Mine cost a tenner, and works fine - particularly end-on.
Happened to have the chance to pull out mine and photograph it today. Another chunk of quality work hardening rail. This is a couple of feet long. Roughly shaped with a gas axe and the rust knocked back with a flap disk. The pebbled surface is down to a few decades of corrosion that I haven't machined off.