Anvil is one of the tools that is used every day in the blacksmithing workshop; therefore, it is crucial to quiet it down as much as possible. Because of meeting a lot of older smiths who have hearing problems, I don’t want you to end up like them. Two major reasons why blacksmith develops hearing problems are not wearing ear protection and not quieting their anvils.
These are five proven ways to silence the anvil that actually work:
- Placing magnets on the anvil
- Mounting the anvil on a solid metal stand
- Gluing the anvil with silicon
- Putting rubber between the anvil and the stand
- Wrapping chains around the neck of the anvil
Why Should You Silence the Anvil?
As we said earlier, blacksmiths develop hearing problems primarily by loud ringing noise of the anvil and by not wearing ear protection. Sometimes, it is the combination of the two. If you test the noise during the work on the anvil, you will find out that it often produces noise above 85 decibels, which is considered as a harmful level of noise.
While these harmful effects are not acute, they are chronically developed over time. To minimize the risk of developing severe hearing problems, make sure to reduce the noise as much as you can. That is not only beneficial from a health standpoint but also from a practical standpoint. Nobody wants to work in such a loud environment where the noise makes it impossible to concentrate on the work adequately.
There is one more problem with the ringing anvil, and that is the neighbors. I really doubt that your neighbors enjoy hearing that annoying noise coming from the workshop. Since the anvil is used every day in the blacksmithing shop, that makes the problem even worse. Now, imagine living near the blacksmith neighbor and continuously listening to this noise. As we said, not only is it annoying, but it is also harmful.
On the other hand, if you live outside the city and don’t have any neighbors near the workshop, you are the lucky one. Even the ones who live in the city and have “good “neighbors, I guarantee you that they will not be “good “for a long time listening to you striking the anvil. Keep in mind that you cant entirely silence the anvil, but you can make still reduce it significantly.
1) Placing Magnets on the Anvil
This is one of the common ways of quieting the anvil. Placing magnets on the anvil is also one of the simplest and cheapest ways to reduce the ringing noise. Now, some people are claiming that this method hasn’t any effect on reducing the vibration. Note that most people don’t understand the basics of the sound.
Remember, it is not the magnetic attraction that reduces the noise, it is the absorption of the vibration, which reduces the noise. These people probably used weak magnets, not enough of them, or they simply placed them in the wrong places of the anvil.
When an anvil rings, note that there are areas of the anvil that vibrate a lot and parts that aren’t. So if vibration happens in specific places of the anvil, by placing a magnet on those places, you will reduce the vibrations significantly. The best way to find out is to move the magnet around the anvil and see where it has the most effect.
Typically, the biggest effect is noticed when magnets are placed under the horn and under the heel. Depending on the intensity of the magnet, a certain amount of them should be placed. We personally found that placing one magnet under the horn and two below the heel gives us the best result. Some people place magnets on the side of the anvil and still have good results. The only way to find out is to try it personally and see what happens. Usually, the more magnets you use and the bigger they are, the better.
2) Mounting the Anvil on a Solid Metal Stand
The most crucial factor in silencing the anvil is proper mounting. All of these other methods are almost useless if the anvil is not mounted correctly. For the anvil to be mounted by the right way must be firmly attached to some kind of stand. The ideal choice of anvil stand is metal.
While anvil can be mounted on a stump, usually metal stand is superior due to the greater stability and noise-reducing properties. We recommend using railroad spikes or something similar as supposed to chain to mount the anvil on the stand. The chain tends to get loose after some time, which makes the anvil ring louder.
Remember, the more mass involved, the less vibration there is. When mounting the anvil on a metal stand, make sure to put an angle bar on edges of anvils’ feet to reduce to absorb vibration. Angle bar will keep the anvil stabile by keeping it from sliding side to side and front to back. After that, bolt the anvil down using railroad spikes or some long bolts. If you do only that, a vast percentage of noise will disappear.
You can also use the long bar on both sides of the feet and bolt it down to the metal bracket. For even more efficient silencing, mount the metal stand, preferably on the dirt instead of concrete.
3) Gluing the Anvil With Silicon
Although most materials have at least some amount of damping property, materials such as steel and iron have minimal internal damping, which makes them very effective sound radiators. When these materials are in contact with some highly damped material, you can quickly reduce the vibration and, therefore, the noise. Namely, silicon is one of those materials.
Gluing the anvil and stand with silicon is a very efficient way to reduce the frequency of vibration. I have seen many people have luck using silicone caulk. If it is a smaller anvil, you can turn it back and apply silicone directly on the anvil. On the other hand, if you have a massive anvil, apply the silicone directly on the stand.
Also, don’t go crazy with the silicone. In the end, cut off any excess silicone peeping out from the anvil. Another benefit of gluing the anvil with silicone is that it will make the anvil more stable
4) Putting Rubber Sheet Between the Anvil and the Stand
While this is not the most effective way to silence the anvils, it still reduces some amount of noise by absorbing sound vibrations and distributing evenly throughout the material. We found that putting rubber sheet between the anvil and the stand works great combined with other methods like placing the magnets and wrapping chains around the anvil.
Usually, two layers of 3 mm rubber sheet are enough for silencing the anvil, but if you find that’s not the case, add more. As you see, this method is extremely easy to do and also very cheap. In case you don’t have a rubber sheet, feel free to experiment with wet sand, which also has some dampening properties.
5) Wrapping Chains Around the Neck of the Anvil
Right next to using magnets, wrapping chains around the anvil is also another proven way of silencing the anvil. The effect of this method is primarily impacted by the size of the anvil.
Usually, the smaller anvil is, the more significant impact this method has on reducing the vibration. Also, the more chains you place around, the better.
For example, if you have a 300-pound anvil in the workshop that is not correctly mounted, wrapping chains around it won’t make a huge difference. On the other hand, wrapping chains around the smaller anvil produces better results. Note that chains should not be wrapped around the horn or heel, but only around the neck of the anvil.
Other than reducing the ringing noise, this method also stabilizes the anvil by adding more weight to it. Don’t get me wrong, proper mounting of the anvil is still the most important part, but having some additional weight makes it more secure to work on. The last thing you need is for the anvil to fall on your leg.
Don’t Forget Ear Protection!
Okay, you silenced your anvil, congratulations. Now, don’t forget the other part, which is wearing ear protection. Just because you reduced the ringing noise that doesn’t mean that you should not wear any ear protection. Ask any experienced blacksmith, and they will tell you the same thing.
When it comes to ear protection, two options are commonly used:
Choosing between the two mostly depends on comfort and personal preferences. Note that both of them have their own advantages and downsides.
When using earplugs, you simply stick them in the block of the ear canal. Earplugs come in a moldable or pre-molded version. The good thing about earplugs is that they are usually cheaper compared to earmuffs. In terms of comfort, it depends on the individual. Some people say they are very comfortable while others claim otherwise.
It is imperative to insert them properly as otherwise can reduce the quality of protection. If you are working in some hot areas where wearing earmuffs is not convenient due to the heat, earplugs are an ideal choice.
PROS of earplugs
• Simple to use
• Easy to carry
• Appropriate for hot working areas
• Easily replaceable
CONS of earplugs
• Difficult insertion and extraction
• May cause irritation
• Requires a more demanding hygiene
• Inappropriate for people with an ear infection and similar problems
In terms of look, earmuffs are similar to headphones. One time when my friend came to my workshop, he thought I wear Bluetooth headphones during work. Earmuffs consist of sound-reducing material and soft cushions. They also fit completely around the ears and are easier to put on.
Keep in mind that you should tightly constrict them but still be comfortable enough for use. If you are dealing with the extremely high noise level, both earplugs and earmuffs can be combined for better effect.
PROS of earmuffs
• Generally, one size fits all
• Easier to put on and remove
• Long durability
CONS of earmuffs
• Bigger and heavier
• More expensive
• Inconvenient for very hot areas