When I started a few years ago, all I had was a 15lb cast iron anvil, a simple charcoal forge, and a bench grinder. While it is possible to make good knives with this set-up, it is extremely labor intensive. I prefer to forge my blades with hammer and anvil for a few reasons. The first is that its more enjoyable to me to form hot metal in the manner it has been done since the deep swirling mists of antiquity. The second reason is that it doesn’t waste nearly as much material as modern stock removal techniques.
While there is a certain pleasure to be had with a charcoal forge, staring into the glowing embers of your forge, feeling the connection with the smiths of old, I now primarily use a gas furnace made by Chileforge. Using gas allows production and control unrivaled by my old forge.
Replacing my Chinese ASO (anvil shaped object) is a 100lb steel anvil that I bought new. It has served me well but I could use something heavier. A 400 pounder would be great….
I still have the old bench grinder, but I don’t use it much. What I use now is a 2X72 Coote beltgrinder. Its a very good tool that is a great help. It has increased my output and quality quite a bit. I don’t know what I would do without it, but its getting to be time for an upgrade. It’s perfect for knives. Swords, not so much.