Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Envy my anvil!

My grandfather was a blacksmith. I remember seeing him in his workshop, shaping red glowing iron on his anvil. Ding, ding, ding, dingdididing it said, as he hammered away. The “dingdididing” was the “cool off” blow he did on the anvil itself after 3 strokes on the item to be shaped. It had a very peculiar, forceful, yet almost meditative rhythm to it.

15 years ago my grandfather died and my parents couldn’t bear to part with this strong symbol of him, so they stored the anvil in their moist garage where it waited for better times while getting more and more rusty. Then a few months ago I realized, that I could really use and anvil and started searching for one online – until it struck me: Grandfathers anvil! Wonder if it’s still in my parents’ garage? It was. However, obviously iron and moisture aren’t the best of friends, and so it looked like this:

A closer look confirmed the ridiculous weight of it: 103,5 kilos!

I needed the anvil for my work, and so of cause needed a good surface to work on, so I had to start grinding. I’m okay with the rust – it tells a story, is the patina of this old tool, but I needed to create a workable surface. Hence I decided to grind away the rust entirely from the tip of the horn and a corner of the horizontal working area, lightly polish the rest of said working area and leave the rest of the anvil as I found it. It took two hours, a fairly sore back and humming nerve ends in my hands to just achieve that goal. I shudder to think of how much time it would have consumed to clean out the entire anvil!

And then it moved in – 103,5 kilos worth of anvil plus roughly half the weight for the old stub it rests on. It has most of its dents, caused by my Grandfathers blows, still visible and it’s shiny and new in some parts – ready to receive my own blows and dents and so mix his and my passion for shaping metal.

Thank you Grandfather. I will cherish your tool and use it to the best of my abilities!


  1. What a great story! That's an anvil with soul. Your grandfather must be smiling in heaven.

  2. Beautiful story and beautiful job you did on it! Brought a tear to my eye. I cant wait to see your finished space!

  3. May your grandfathers daily "presence" bring peace and fruitfulness to all your endeavors!

  4. What a great story! Your grandfather would be so proud of you. :)