It is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith. The anvil is like the philosopher’s stone. It transforms the raw material into noble metal when the hammer makes it sing. But why they need to do tapping and hitting of the anvil? Don’t worry, the hitting and tapping is not a mystery. Some blacksmith do it and some don’t, however, we are going to tell you about the logic behind the actions.
It is said that you cannot hold a good blacksmith down. The Smith will forge, blow and tap. Therefore, there is a pattern behind the majority of a smith’s hitting and tapping. In some scenarios, it’s the distinctive habits associated with the profession. The article will mention all of it, that is, the professional ones and the habits associated with the work.
The tools of the blacksmith are several but an anvil is the most essential tool for hot metal working. Moreover, hammer and anvil are the closest allies of a blacksmith. It’s the anvil that receives the brute or elegant blows of the hammers, with or without the piece of metal.
So, without further ado let’s get to know the reasons and logic behind the madness of hitting the anvil.
Reasons Behind the Blacksmith Hitting an Anvil
Here are the 13 interesting reasons behind blacksmiths hit the anvil-
Flourishing is one of the great classics of wrought iron. It consists of flaring an iron in a fan, crushing it by hammering. The smith starts by placing the iron flat on the birth of the anvil horn. The metal is hammered regularly, always from the back to the front. The aim is to thin it symmetrically and to balance the flare in width.
2. Point Forging
The ancients held this exercise in high esteem, as it allows the smith to “feel” the material under the hammer. Scraps of reinforcing bars are particularly suitable for experiments in learning how to direct heat with the hammer.
The point is shaped to a concise length with a very obtuse angle. With each blow of the hammer, the bar is turned a quarter of a turn, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. These rotations avoid crushing the iron and promote its stretching lengthwise.
When the tip has taken on a tapered shape, the tip is stretched flat against the anvil table with hammer blows from back to front.
3. Flattening the Iron
The end of the metal bar, heated over a short length, is struck with the hammer, applying the blows in line with the workpiece.
With the bar resting on the anvil table’s corner, the blacksmith strikes the metal flat on all four sides. This operation makes it possible to obtain the desired length and the desired flatness.
4. Twist Correction
Forging involves lots of twisting and turning. Sometimes the twists need correction. The hammer taps are essential in this scenario. The taps are gentle on the workpiece and the anvil is hit to keep the momentum and give the work piece a look and respite.
5. Thinning a Flat Iron
Thinning a flat iron begins with a slight “disgorging” on the end of the horn. The mass of metal remaining the same; the back to front hammer blows assist in stretching the iron. A lot of tapping and hitting is involved. The anvil is the receiver and sings with the workpiece being thinned.
6. Cutting Thick Metals
With the aid of a heavy “front hammer,” it is possible to cut thick metals. However, the anvil is kept safe by keeping an iron plate is interposed between the workpiece and the anvil.
7. Music and Rhythm
After quenching any iron, the smith checks any warps or cracks in a workpiece. The hard iron sings like a bird if it is set correctly. Similarly, the surface of the anvil creates a musical sound. Many smiths enjoy the musical tones and keep on hitting the surface. This action has no particular purpose. It is just a plain entertainment.
The forger, in some situations takes a pause, adjusts the hammer hand, taps the anvil gently, and then starts hitting the piece of metal. This action is purely a reflex to adjust the hits, the work piece, and to look at the impact of the hits so far.
A wrong hit and the piece will crack or break. So adjustments are a constant practice. The tapping is the reflex. It is just like a practice run before hitting the actual piece of metal.
Similar to the adjustment is the resting process. This action is to give the hammer’s hand a respite and conserves some energy. The resting taps are usually a single tap before stopping and then another tap before starting again. It is a logical action when you see the reason behind it.
This action is performed various times during the forging process.
10. Generating Inertia
Sometimes for a heavy-hitting work, a heavy hammer is required. In such scenarios, the tap is to create inertia. In layman’s terms, the tap of the heavy hammer makes it bounce. The bounce makes it easy to lift. The better the bounce, the better the hit. This enables the smith to have some respite and conservation of energy.
This is just a warning to intruders. Just kidding! Sometimes the smiths have to work as a team of two or three. They have to work in a rhythm. The taps are a signal to adjust the hits or the piece of metal. This comes naturally with the work. The fixtures or slams become the signals of communication.
12. Smoothing the Anvil
The anvil enjoys a prominent place in the forge. It should be working correctly and without any problems. As mentioned above, a good anvil sings. The Smith, before the start of a job, observe the anvil for any cracks. The surface of the anvil must be smooth. There should not be any cracks or depressions on the surface of the anvil.
The Smith checks this by hitting the surface of the anvil. Sometimes, during the working process, the smith taps or brushes the surface with the hammer. This is to find if the surface is still smooth.
The two things a smith loves the most is his hammer and the anvil. The moment he enters the work station, he has to hit or tap the anvil. Even if there is no work, he taps or hits the surface. It’s a pure habit and nothing else. It becomes a natural habit to hear the hammer hit the anvil.
Read our Comparison on Forge and Foundry
Summing-up, tapping of an anvil while working is one of the most common things that a blacksmith is seen doing. Many smiths believe that tapping is not a regular thing while there are some smiths too who do not adopt many of the habits associated with the profession. Some say it just happens and that there is no specific purpose behind it.
However, no matter what the reasons are, the blacksmiths do love to tap the surface of the anvil. Moreover, in this article we tried to present all the logical reasons behind the obvious working and habits of a blacksmith hitting an anvil. We hope this was helpful in clearing your confusion.