All this talk about bench blocks made me want to mention something I
"discovered" by accident a few years ago.
I was wandering around a huge flea market one day and came across a
woman with a whole table of antique irons -- the type you had to put
in the fireplace and then lift out with a detachable handle when
ready for use. She was selling them cheaply ($2 - 5) as they had no
handles. But the bottoms are wonderfully smooth and polish up
nicely, which piqued my interest.
Without the handles, they are very steady on their tops, giving a
nice working surface. The curves and tapers on the side can be used
to work in a bench clamp, and the taper top-to-bottom lets you work
on pieces that need to "hang" off the side or even lap around the
One has been my "portable anvil" ever since and I love it.
But if you had a couple, you could also use them in your torch area
the way Michael describes, as well as to help form things while hot.
The holes in the top (where the handles would go) could be used as a
great jig surface for tweezers or whatever.
You can find them in a variety of sizes, too!
Hope this helps someone!
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry