Welcome to the Kellogg & Sons Blacksmith Shop

Our traditional Blacksmith shop located in Northern New York. We do custom Blacksmithing work focused upon traditional 18th and 19th century hardware and tools.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bickerns, T-Stakes, and Stake Anvils

One of the oldest kind of anvils is the Stake or Bickern.  A T shaped anvil that fits into a hole in the bench or stump is much more economical to make than one with a massive iron base.  Wrought Iron and steel were extremely expense prior to the 19th century's innovations.  Medieval woodcuts of Blacksmith shops often showed a stake anvil along with a hornless main anvil.

Stake anvils are very useful in a traditional shop.  They are used to bend small coils, fit inside a hollow object, or finish small forgings.  They ranged in size from tiny ones used by Jewelers to 20lb. stakes used by smiths to 200lb Bickerns used as an anvil in the shop.

My small stake anvil is forged of wrought iron with a steel face.  It has the classic shape with one round horn and one square horn.  It is an old one, and has some wear from use.  It had been -34F the night before I took this picture.  It was still well below freezing in the shop, and the stake anvil is very frosty!

My large stake anvil is from the pre-modern era.  The fluted column, shield shaped boss, and combination of round and square horns may place this anvil in the 18th century or earlier.  It is wide, long, and tall and weighs around 180lbs.

It is all wrought iron with no steel face.  This style of anvil would have been used in England to supplement the shop anvil.  Pre-1800 English anvils were fairly solid and rectangular with small horns and a short heel.  They were excellent for general forging but sometimes you needs a horn or skinny heel to forge inside a bucket, set rivets, or work on tines of a fork.  The Bickern, T-Stake, or Stake Anvil was needed for those jobs.

Stake anvils are still used in the Blacksmith Shop.  At the SOFA Quad-State 2013 Conference a team of smiths used a steam hammer to make the one pictured below!

They are still a sought out and useful tool for Blacksmithing and sculptural form.  As I heard one old smith say they are, "as useful as pockets in a pair of pants!"

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