I made a little anvil/stake yesterday for rings - Love it! (photos)

Fabrication | Jewelry | | | | |

I made this anvil/stake yesterday, from a steel rod and some scrap wood. I've been wanting to forge a rounded contour to rings for design and comfort and it works perfectly!

The block on the right side slides off to allow the ring to slip over the stake. That's my grandpa's mallet, it's very soft. He was a Boeing machinist - I don't know exactly what he did with it, but it's great for massaging silver without marring the surface at all. I've had it in the back of a tool box for years - since he died in 1986 or so, and now I've found a purpose for it. I couldn't be happier.

New Stake/Anvil

New Stake/Anvil

New Stake/Anvil

With this shape, rings are unbelievably comfortable! Cold, hard metal actually feels soft as flower petals. it's an incredible difference.

This ring (above) used to be unbearable to wear, the width of the band was too much and the edges were uncomfortable, even after rounding and smoothing them with sanders/polishers. Now, with this new contour to the ring, it feels so soft, it's like slipping your finger into a cool, smooth marshmallow, lined with rose petals.

Tree Ring After Forging

And I can't resist, one picture of Grandpa. Here's the man behind the mallet, receiving an award from the Air Force for something he invented, I'm not exactly sure what:

Grandpa Cole

Rich Waugh's picture

Dave, Good job on the


Good job on the anticlastic mandrel. Clever solution to the problem of having it supported on both ends for stability but still get the rings on and off. Are you planning to polish it to a mirror finish? Sure will save you a lot of labor on rings over the coming years if you do.

Wood mallets are great tools - easy enough to make so there's no excuse for not having them in many different configurations (okay, I confess I only have one) for almost any task that arises. If I knew someone who just got a new wood lathe and wanted to practice, I'd have them make me a bunch of handles and head blanks - I'm too busy with other stuff to do it myself, fortunately.

Nice picture of your grandpa. Looks like he's getting a nice check for developing that impressive machine behind him. The Air Force Survival Series Sleeping Bag Sterilizer and Spotted Owl Cooker, maybe. Or maybe its just something ordinary like a death ray...we'll probably never know unless you file a request with the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act. If you do that and a week later a couple of clean-shaven guys with boring suits and aviator sunglasses show up at your door you'll know it was the death ray after all. They'll probably demonstrate it for you. (GRIN)

It can be a lot of fun to look at really old family pictures like that and make up stories about what they signify. Almost as much fun as making neat tools.

Keep up the great work! We're all learning from you.


marilyn's picture

I have two mallets that are

I have two mallets that are made of paper. Yes, paper and they are wonderful for not marking the silver. They are not made anymore.

dowpat's picture

Paper mallets?

Like a lot of us I am a toolholic and have lots of hammers. I have made some wood ones but normally use my leather mallets for not marking metal. Could you take a photo of your paper hammers? They sound very intriguing and if possible I would like to make one.

Thanks Pat

marilyn's picture

Paper Hammers

I think that Charles Lewton Brain has directions in his cheap tricks book. He suggested using the old brown paper package tape that has to be moistened on the side where the glue is. So, this is wetted and wound up tightly to make the desired size head. Perhaps it could be wound up dry and then soaked for a bit. Might get a tighter roll that way. I’m not sure that this tape is around anymore.

dowpat's picture


Great design, very simple. Not sure of the scale, is that a "ring" or a "bracelet" shown in the photo? I could see having these in different sizes depending on what you were working on.


Daverham's picture

Thanks for the support, as

Thanks for the support, as always. For scale... that is a ring, size 10. It's a very wide band, but absolutely comfy thanks to that contour due to the - what did you call it - "anticlastic mandrel" - good word. Thanks for that!

I believe my mallet is also paper. it is very light and pretty soft - and it's as least as old as the 1940s so I imagine they were still making them back then... thanks gramps!

Daverham's picture

Ah, also... Rich, how do you

Ah, also... Rich, how do you suggest one polishes steel? Rouge? I've never tackled that one before. I guess I'll give it a try. Sounds like a good idea. Any tips?

Rich Waugh's picture

David, You polish steel


You polish steel using the general process that you would use for any material - successively finer abrasives until you get it shiny.

Since we're talking about steel, you'll need to use abrasives that are fairly hard. Silicon carbide papers work well if used wet. Generally, I'd start that project with a #3 or #4 cut 8" or 10" crossing file to rough it to contour and then final shaping with a #6 cut crossing file. I'd follow that up with 240 grit wet-or-dry silicon carbide paper used wet and supported by a felt-covered stick of the about the same contour as the crossing file. A convex shape that matches the radius of the stake, in other words. I like using felt form old fedoras that I get at the thrift shops - it's nice and dense and has just the right amount of "give." Saves blisters on my fingers, too. :-)

Once the 240 sandpaper has removed all the file marks, change to 400 grit paper and remove all the sand scratch marks left by the 240. Then go to 600 grit and do the same. At that point you can go to the buffer if you have some fairly stiff buffs and a cutting compound like Emery or Tripoli. Once that has done its job, go to White Diamond for the final polish. That's sufficient for a stake. Rouge is actually a platelet-based compound in a grease base and planishes (or burnishes if you prefer) the surface rather than cutting away any material. It would be perishingly slow on steel and useless on stainless or high chromium or molybdenum/manganese steels.

For finishing entirely by hand, after the 600 grit you go to 1200 grit and then to 1800 or 2000 grit for the final cutting. Follow that with hand rubbing using White Diamond on a felt pad and you're done. Probably weary, too.

I've found that the best buffs for steel are the corrugated fiber ones used by furniture makers and custom auto makers. In the US I buy them from Grizzly tool. They hold a lot of compound and stay very cool so the binder doesn't melt all over the place. Sisal is a good second choice for a use with fast-cutting compounds and stitched muslin or hard felt for final polishing.

One really handy tool for finishing steel stakes and the like is a die grinder with flap wheels. The flap wheels are available in grits form about 40 to 240 or finer and diameters from 1/2" up to 4" with face widths from 1/2" to around 3". They readily adapt to compound curves and tend to ease or approximate contour changes very smoothly. With a selection of flap wheels and a n inexpensive electric die grinder with a 1/4" collet you can save yourself huge amounts of labor and time on finishing steel. Another good tool is an inflatable sanding drum. This goes on a buffing lathe and accepts regular sanding belts. Unlike a hard rubber wheel, the inflatable drum can be soft or hard depending on how much air pressure you pump into it. Pretty cool tool for contouring all sorts of curved stuff and also for creating interesting finish effects on surfaces. The 3-M Company makes their Scotchbrite contouring belts to work on these drums and they're a real treat for doing brushed finishes on stainless.

One final note: NEVER move to a finer grit of abrasive if there are still scratches visible from the preceding grit. You'll just deepen them instead of removing them if you use a grit that is so fine it gets down inside the older scratches. I helps to change directions when you change grits so you can quickly see if there are old marks that still have to be removed. Also, cutting across the grain
lessens the effect of the abrasive falling into the previous cuts and deepening them.

I could go on and on about finishing but I think I've given a decent overview that should cover what you need. If you have further questions or need more details, just ask away.


Daedalus's picture

You are the man there

You are the man there Daverham!
Way cool tool and approach to solving a problem.Consider it stolen.

The only thing that beats being able to make your own tools to help bring your vision to life is being able to give new life to old tools that were once owned by someone close.
Hopefully some day in the future your grandson(or grandaughter) will be posting pics(or holograms) of the neat stuff like this that their grandfather(you) made and how they`re really proud to have them and be using them.
Don`t wear out that mallet or anvil/stake,I hear a new generation calling.:^)

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice there is.

Daverham's picture

Great stuff! Thanks for

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing my stake stoke. Rich, good info. Thanks for taking the time. I'll give it a try!

Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture


Stephen Fitz-Gerald
Good creative innovative solution to a difficult shaping problem.Anticlastic means saddle shaped i.e.curved in two dimensions...

EssexVIG's picture

Flip it over

 Not sure if anyone has considered this, but when at school we had to make copper napkin rings and used a stake that was like yours but inverted so the rings were barrel shape rather than waisted like your. Would suit a bangle type item.