Pratensis Countryside Services


The simplest way to secure a peening anvil is in a big round of timber about 18”(45cm) high. Another round of 12-15”(31-38cm) then can serve as a seat. Such a setup is generally very stable, so long as it is big enough.

However those who do not have access to big lumps of tree, or require portability for their peening facility, will need to look at making a peening stool. (These are also sometimes called ‘peening ponies’, alluding to their size being smaller than a shaving ‘horse’, and it alliterates.) They are also useful for course instructors to set up a number of peening stations for a group, as shown above.

The first examples of peening stools in UK seem to have been produced by Phil Batten. Phil is still to be seen from time to time travelling with such a stool strapped to the back of his bicycle. As the number of scythe events increased, many variations developed. Some are lovingly carved from natural forms of timber, others bodged from ‘found’ offcuts.

The principle of design is of two functional components. A solid post in contact with the ground resists the impact of hammer blows. The seat places the operative in an optimal position for the procedure, as well as holding the post in position.

Peening Stools

Simon Fairlie has provided a recipe for a method of construction from a post of 4”x4”x18” and 5 pieces of 4”x2” running to a total length of 98”. This appeared in the SABI newsletter ‘The Windrow’ (Issue 5, p6). Such designs are pictured in the foreground above. Given that the total length of the stool is 24”, and the height of the seat is 15”, you can work out the rest.

The heights of seat and post will depend on your bodily proportions and type of anvil, and also some personal preference. I prefer a 13” seat with a 18” post, when using a peening jig or short Picard anvil. (I am 5’8”.)

To avoid splitting the post, the hole for the anvil spike needs to be rather more carefully prepared than if using a big log. Preferably the base of the anvil will sit on the post, but will still be held tight and not swivel.

Anvils which are set directly into the ground are the most portable system. However they do demand a level of proficiency, and a seated or decumbent position which some may find difficult. Such methods are certainly not ideal on damp ground, but can be rewarding when successful.