Building a Railroad Track Anvil

Rather than buying an anvil, I decided to build one out of a piece of track and tie plate I found in my grandfathers old barn. The barn is maybe 75 – 100 years old and has various pieces of farm equipment in and around it.

There are various examples on youtube of railroad track anvils. A lot of them involve drilling or cutting holes in the base of the track and then securing it to a stand. Why not weld the track to a tie plate, and then bolt them to a stand? Seems to me having a wider base of the tie plate would distribute pressure while beating on the track.

I wanted something besides your typical piece of railroad track welded, chained, or bolted to a stand. I wanted something that when people see it they say “that is cool”. I wanted something that was semi-portable. So that when I build my pole barn I can move the anvil and stand to the barn.

Prepping and welding

Using an angle grinder with a grinding rock, I ground bevels on the tie plate. The bevels are for the weld to go into. I then used a wire wheel and grinding disk to remove rust from the piece of track and tie plate.  Rust is terrible for welding The molten metal from the welding wire or welding rod does not tie into rust, and the rust can cause pin holes in the weld. Pin holes are small holes that weaken the weld. Before welding get as much of the rust and paint off as you can.

My generator needed to be ran, so I pulled it out of the shed and used it to power the grinder and welding machine for tacking the parts into place.  Once the metal has been cleaned and prepped, I tacked the 4 corners with my flux-core welding machine.  A “tack” is a small weld just large enough to hold the metal in place.

Once several tacks are in place short welds can be made.  If too much welding is done on one side, the tacks on the opposite can break.  When the tacks break the parts move.  It is important to alternate sides when welding.

Three welds about a inch and a quarter long were made on each side of the tie plate.  On the bottom of the tie plate a weld was made on each end about 2 inches long.  All welds were at least 3 passes.  This is called “one down and two showing”.  Between each weld a wire brush was used to remove slag.

Welding was done with a Lincoln 125 Flux-core welding machine using ER70-S2 welding wire.  ER70 welding wire has the same rating as a 7018 welding rod, which is 70,000 pounds per square inch.  One square inch of ER-70 or 7018 weld is supposed to hold 70,000 pounds.  Things like quality of the metal you are welding to, rust, paint,,, contributes to weld contamination.  The more a weld is contaminated, the weaker it is.

In this video I talk about basics of welding around the farm.

Anvil base

Rather than building a metal stand, why not use a piece of telephone pole? There is a place in Jasper Texas that sells culled telephones poles for $2 a foot. They will cut the poles to anylength you want. I landed a piece close to 4 feet long for a lot cheaper than I could build a stand out of metal.

From what I understand, the top of the anvil should be the same height as your knuckles are from the floor.   In other words your knuckles and the anvil top should be the same distance off the floor.  Measuring my knuckles that comes to 28 inches.

To figure the height of the anvil base I subtracted the height of the anvil from the base of the tie plate to the top of the track.

Using a Stihl chainsaw I cut the base 19 inches long.

Mounting anvil to base

With the track welded to the tie plate and the base cut to length, it was not time to mount the anvil to the base.

A few days before I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement in Jasper Texas and bought 4 lag bolts that are coated for outdoor use. The lag bolts are 5 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Each lag bolt has a split washer and flat washer.

The anvil was placed on top of the base, centered, pilot holes were drilled and the lag bolts were sank using a 3/8 ratchet.

I can put 4 more lag bolts into the tie plate.  Before I buy 4 more I want to see how these work.


I am pleased at how the project has turned out.  Only use will tell if this type of setup is feasible.  Will the lag bolts slowly strip out?  Will the setup be heavy enough to work iron?

Homemade railroad track anvil