Anvil Stand

Kodak Ektachrome E100

  2018 November 25    Metal & Shop


In the first article we looked at some ideas for building an anvil stand.

Now it's time to build one.  So I've got this piece of rail that may be from a mine cart track or something, because it's a bit on the small side.  But it was only a few dollars at a flea market, and so far I've found it quite useful.

A track anvil like this is already not the most efficient.  Without a stand, though, it'll move constantly and waste too much kinetic energy.  So it needs a good base.

Make sure you realize that if you follow the exact plans here, you will get a stand that may not be the right height for you.  Also, the anvil tray would have to be made larger for most other anvils you might encounter. 

Once again... You may have to figure different height and other dimensions for your situation.

Welding and metalworking can be dangerous.  (Disclaimer.)  When welding, make sure you wear a good respirator and use at least a fan for ventilation.

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In This Article

1.) The Anvil Tray

2.) The Steel Plate

3.) The Legs

4.) Sand Filling

5.) Bracing The Legs

6.) Welding On the Feet

7.) Other Stuff


The Anvil Tray

To hold this particular track anvil, I started with about three feet of 2" x 2" x 3/16" angle iron.  I cut two pieces each 12" long, and two pieces each 5 1/8" long.  (This is quite a small track anvil;  I'm sure it's less than 30 lbs.)

The shorter pieces of angle iron will have squares of metal removed from each end.  When you fit these together with the longer pieces, you get a tray of coped angle-iron that's got to be welded together.  See the picture:

Start with tack welds at the outside corners, so the metal doesn't warp.  7018 or 7018 AC would be the best choice throughout the whole project, although I doubt a properly-welded stand would fall apart if welded with 6013 or 7014. 

Once again, if you want to build this stand for a larger anvil, then you'll have to make the angle-iron tray larger. 

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The Steel Plate

The 2" angle iron is probably heavy-duty enough that you could weld the tripod legs directly to it.  There are anvil stands, pictured on the various forums, where people have big anvils supported by little more than an angle-iron flange with legs. 

With that said, we're going to overengineer this a little bit.

Steel plate 1/2" x 6 1/2" x 12".
I think it was supposed to be 12 1/2", not 12". 
"Measure once, cut once, weld 'er up!"

A piece of half-inch steel plate, with 3/16" steel on top of that, makes for 11/16".  That's close to 3/4" thick.  The upright edges of the 2" angle iron will add a lot of strength to that, as well.

I would recommend joining this with a series of 1" welds with 7018 AC.  Ever since the welding table with a bowed top, I've been cautious about making continuous long welds on steel plate...

Probably don't use a 120-volt inverter welder here, because even 90 amps is not quite enough for this stage of the project.  Use a Lincoln buzz-box or something comparable.  Welding 3/16" to 1/2" steel, and having that withstand daily hammering with a 2.5 to 4-lb mini sledge, is going to require some amperage.  I used 105 amps for 3/32" 7018 AC, and 120 amps for 1/8" 7018 AC on this project.

By the way, I should have mentioned that there was a pre-heat before every weld;  when the steel is 25 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll at least want to pre-heat it until no condensation forms on the metal. 

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The Legs

Square tubing or rectangular tubing is preferable for the legs.  Angle iron perhaps, but only if heavy-duty (2.5" x 1/4", possibly.)

The tripod legs are not perfectly vertical.  The angle from vertical could be anywhere from 10 degrees to 22.5 degrees.  Too much angle, and you might trip over them.  Not enough angle, and it lacks stability.

Since I'm making this for a small track anvil, the stand has to be actually kind of tall.  I figured about 25 inches vertical height.  To stabilize this height, I decided on an angle of 17.5 degrees. 

Quick rundown of the dimensions:

2" square tubing
3/16" wall
Ends cut to 17.5 degrees
Longest dimension = 25 divided by (cos 17.5) = about 26".
Bevel the ends to be welded.

Once you get these cut to the proper angle and length, it's time to mark out the placement and tack-weld them:

Then, complete the welds with 7018 or 7018 AC.  Of all the welds on the whole stand, these will be the most critical.  These were single-pass with 3/32", but it's not a bad idea to go back and run a couple more beads with 1/8".  When I get a batch of 1/8" 7018AC that I know is good, I might do that.

Again, it helps to bevel the ends of the tubing before tack-welding in place.  You don't need to bevel the tubing down to a thin edge;  just enough that it's about half the thickness of the tubing wall. 

Keep in mind, this stand is not "tip-over-proof".  It's very stable, though, under normal use.  If you need it to be tip-over-proof, bolt it to the floor.

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Sand Filling

Material:  about three coffee cans full of dry sand.

Filling the legs with dry sand will dampen ringing and make the stand a lot more pleasant to use.  It also adds some weight for extra stability. 

Don't use oily or wet sand for this method.  Use clean, DRY sand (because you're going to weld on these afterward.)

Cut and grind some scraps of 3/16" or 1/4" steel plate so they fit into the ends of the square-tubing legs.  Basically you'll need a square with slightly rounded corners.  The inside of square tubing usually has a ridge or seam, so you may need to notch the pieces to fit over that.

When you pour in the sand, tap the side of the square tubing a whole bunch of times with a piece of 2x4 or something.  This will settle the sand particles and eliminate voids. 

Next, place the carefully-fitted piece of steel-plate scrap over it.  It should sit about 1/8" to 3/16" underflush with the end of the leg.  That's so you have room for a weld bead. 

Weld the square in place.  I used 3/32" 7018 AC at 90 to 105 amps.  If need be, grind the welds flush with the end of the square tubing.  These welds don't have to be pretty;  they just have to work.  Preferably, no gaps though;  you don't want sand falling out when you turn the whole thing over to weld the feet on.

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Bracing The Legs

Material:  About 3 feet of 1/4" x 1" flat stock.  Cut two pieces about 11.5", and one piece about 6.5". 

I did this step after filling the legs with dry sand and welding plate into the ends.

Making the brace is potentially the most difficult step, because you're having to join three pieces of steel to three other pieces of steel that are not quite vertical. 

The good news:  where the braces attach to the legs, that angle will be the same for every one (if you did this right).  I didn't sit down and figure the exact angle, but it was between 12.5 and 17.5 degrees.  If you keep grinding too much off the ends of each brace section, the cross-brace will sit too high on the finished anvil stand.  You want these to be close enough to the floor that they damp any resonance or springing that would make the stand "walk around" as you're hammering.

The as-cut lengths of stock may need to be shortened to make everything join properly at the center.  And you will definitely have to grind bevels in a couple of the pieces.  I had to do some custom fitting with the angle grinder. 

I started out by tacking the two longer pieces together, then bending them together or apart until they'd line up with center-line of each tripod leg.

After doing any necessary beveling and fitting, each of the three pieces was tack-welded onto its leg.  There was enough compression to wedge everything in place until the center welds were done.  (Be careful you don't drop these;  even 1/4" x 1" flat stock has some weight to it.)  You can see the angles are not 120 degrees.  The one is a little bit less than 90, so the other two would be just over 135 degrees.

Here's another picture, showing the tack welds.  From here, weld them fully together with 7018 or 7018 AC. 

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Welding On The Feet

These are three pieces of 1/4" steel plate, cut to 4" by 4" square.  De-burr the steel as usual, rounding off the corners with the grinder and smoothing with a flap disc.

When centered, these give a 1" border around every side (the legs are 2" square tubing).  A machinist 4" double square really helps for situations like this.  I don't have the good brand, just some cheapo that was a fraction of that price;  however, those Starretts sure are nice.  Here's another one that's also made in USA and is said to be very good.

Tack weld each foot on at all four corners.

The batch of 1/8" 7018 AC that I was using were having porosity:  big holes in many of the welds.  (You might be able to see it in the tack welds there.)  Nothing seemed to work, even grinding off all the mill scale to clean metal.  I had to grind a few of the welds out and start over.  It was only happening with that batch of rods;  the 3/32" 7018 AC's (same brand) were flawless. 

The 1/8" ones would also stick really badly they got down to about 1/3 remaining.  Next time I'm just going to stay with the old reliable brand of 7018 AC's for the whole project.  Some people don't like that kind, but I've never had any major issues with them. 

So anyway, after tacking, then complete the welds.  If your shop is cold, post-heat the welds and the steel-plate pieces so they don't rapidly contract and warp the feet.  If you weld to something that's already hot, and you can make it cool very slowly as a whole unit, there may not be any warpage at all. 

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Other Stuff

You could easily weld a tool rack to the tripod or the side of the anvil tray.  Many anvil stands include at least one or two hammer holders. 

This design element can always be added later.  (If you had any extra 1/4" x 1" flat stock, that would be about perfect for a hammer rack.)

I like the rusty, mill-scale-y industrial look for an anvil stand.  However, painted anvil stands can look nice too. 

This stand is probably sturdy enough that you could weld a hitch receiver tube to the underside of the 1/2" steel plate, so you could attach other tools such as a small bench vise, or perhaps a bending jig.  Portable metalworking station.  Just make sure you design it keeping in mind the stability.  Steel toes are a good idea in the workshop....

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So there you go:  this was my "tripod anvil-stand" build.  This is not the only way possible to build one, but some of the basic design elements are pretty much non-optional.  You need an anvil stand that's stable, sturdy, and doesn't get in your way. 

The great thing about a tripod is that the feet are always co-planar, even if the floor is not perfectly flat. 

By the way, I didn't put this anvil stand on a scale yet, but the finished weight is probably about 70 pounds.  You might need someone to help you move it around, but at least the stand is semi-portable.

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