Which would you prefer: A dented anvil or a dented hammer?
Isn’t it much easier to replace a hammer than an anvil?
So I would think that you would want your hammer to be less hard than your anvil.
The top quality anvils that we have tested and sell range in hardiness from HRC 55 - 62 with an average around 58 HRC on the center mass of the anvil. This is not the horn(s) or edges as many of those areas are closer to the lower figure of 55 HRC. These ratings are not the same for commercially made hand-held forging hammers.
Please note I was very specific in writing, “commercially made hand-held forging hammers,” as the term blacksmithing hammer has pretty much become a very loose term. So loose that some even group ball peens in this category.
The commercially made hand-held forging hammers, that we have tested and sell, all come in around 50 HRC on face and peens…. and now on to the biggest question.
How many folks out there like to make their own forging hammers? It’s a great and rewarding process and a great teaching tool. But, what is that hammers hardness? Most wouldn’t have the chance to test the hardness and so that hammer would get used on our own anvils and on those where we may roam.
While most of us would not leave home with our trusted forging hammer, care and consideration for all the tools we use, including the anvils, should be tantamount.