I had this idea last night after thinking about how my SMP server is planning on implementing a mod that disables the "refreshing" of tools, where you throw the tool down and pick it up, resetting it's durability. Instead of using tools up just to throw them away, there should be a way to fix them without using an exploit such as this.
Introducing the Anvil!
This recipe creates an anvil, a crafting block like a workbench or furnace that can be used to repair tools. The recipe would require: 7 obsidian, 2 iron blocks (18 iron bars)...
(the grey block represents an iron block)
Now that you have an anvil, place it wherever you want to repair your tools. (If you need to move it, like a furnace, it will take at least 30 seconds to pick it back up due to its massive weight!) To repair your tools, you will need 1 element of the tool in question.
For instance, the most common use would probably be to repair a diamond pickaxe. To do this, you will need 1 diamond. Similar to the furnace, you put your broken tool in the top slot and the diamond in the bottom slot, like this...
  
   ==> [>>-i>]
   (the stick representing the broken tool, the arrow representing the repaired tool)
This way, repairing is not "free" and requires ONE of the original materials used to make that tool. This can be done only with iron, gold and diamond. I would say that this would take the same amount of time that it takes to smelt a few bars; it should not be instantaneous.
NOTE: I also believe that should this be implemented, when a tool has been broken, it should NOT disappear out of inventory. The durability bar should turn completely red to indicate it is broken. In this way, you can hold onto the tool until it can be repaired.
I think that this is a balanced and fair way to set up a blacksmithing anvil that would not terribly hurt gameplay. A lot of players on SMP want to build with iron, gold and diamonds, but if they have to use them up to make new tools, the point of making blocks from them becomes useless (unless of course you play on a Runecraft SMP server).
If you made it to this paragraph, congratulations! I appreciate any and all comments, suggestions and questions. Thanks for reading!
Don't include the obsidian, that's just overpricing the anvil. Make it:
  
So it's not impossible, but not easy either.
Overpricing? Seven obsidian is not terribly difficult to obtain. A diamond pickaxe with buckets of lava and water is all it takes to create obsidian.
I know anvils are made mostly of iron, but since they are faced with steel (something not obtainable in the game), I figured using obsidian as a substitute would suffice. Also, obsidian is the hardest object to mine and is also highly resistant to TNT/creepers, so I figured it would be a perfect material to strike upon.
Also, it would be too easy for repairs to be made with an anvil made with just 5 iron bars. (3 iron bars makes a bucket, so how can 5 make an anvil?) I think with your suggestion, it should be 5 iron blocks, not bars. However, it should still be faced with obsidian to not only increase its value but also realistically facilitate the repair of diamond tools. (I wouldn't expect to be able to repair a diamond pickaxe on an iron anvil.)
Realistically, diamond is the hardest mineral in the known universe, rating 10 on the hardness scale, whereas obsidian is about 5.5. so, I'd make an anvil somewhat like this:
Cobblestone eases the price of crafting, and is strong enough to absorb the reverberations of the "impact" of hammer on diamond, but not strong enough to hold under a direct hit. Iron on either side, and diamond in the middle. It's not that much harder to craft than a jukebox is.
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i just tryed cooking the milk but it didnt work you lier
YOUR A TROLL
No offence, but, you believed him?
yes i believed him i see the good in people but that usually turns out to me being tricked
I had this exact bloody idea, only mine called for a recipe like this:
  
( = iron block)
It allowed one to re-use tool recipes to make weapons with better stats than the standard sword, not to mention better attributes (longer reaching weapons, weapons of the same material doing more damage ex: the sword recipe re-used made a claymore with longer reach, durability, more damage, and a wider hit radius, but slower attack rate.) It also enabled one to make metal fences that could stack easier than wooden ones, and in general do more interesting recipes related to metal.
It placed across 2 blocks (dependent upon which direction you were facing) and was gravity enabled like gravel so that if you mined out from underneath it, it would drop, and if placed on any weaker material that was 1 block thick vertically (wood, glass, dirt), or with only 1 supporting block beneath it, it would emit a crunching sound and break through the floor (destroying the floor block utterly in the process), and if dropped from a significant height, would leave a small crater around it once it landed (similar to 1/4 the force of TNT), and commit killing damage on any mob unfortunate enough to be between it and the ground.
Now what this would do is destroy a lot of balance and ease of the game. If you can repair a pickaxe with just one mineral, that makes mining 3x more efficient. This means, to balance the system, ores will have to be at least twice as rare. This will put the efficiency of mining back to normal, but will make it a lot harder to get started, which is something I don't think we want.
firly I dislike the idea due to the fact that theres nothing worth repairing, stone is easy to make, steel is findable faster than usable and only realy neccessary to get diamond (since redstone and gold are worthless) and diamond has massive amounts of dura, and again isnt neccessary for anyrhing other than obsidian. second, the hammer set should not have obsidian, you cant have obsidian tools you want to know why? because OBSIDIAN ISNT RARE the only characteristic that makes it valuable to any degree is the fact that it requires diamond to get and as mentioned earlier diamond has hella dura, with 3 diaonds you can mine 1000+ obsidian. if tools were made from obsidian they would have to have the same properties of stone or iron but with a little extra dura, not equal to or stronger than diamond
hey idiot, why don't you provide solutions to the suggestion instead of flaming everyone on the suggestion?
This suggestion is a decent way of implementing such a system, though I believe a better one would not require such a inflated system.
In personal taste, destroyed items should be discarded (as current), anvils should not require time to craft due to balance reasons. Items should be repaired using the required material for it's creation (a diamond pick would require diamond, a stone axe would require stone). The amount repaired is a percentage of the cost. The diamond pick is made with 3 diamonds, each diamond would therefore repair 1/3 of it's total durability. This would make shovels worthless for repair.
Overall, I dislike the idea of repair in general, however I can understand differing sentiments.
It sounds like making a new pick is faster than repairing, not to mention I have to either carry an anvil or half dozen broken tools around until I can fix them. There's also with the lack of real use unless used with diamond items because with the abundance of iron I wouldn't repair those ever.
If there wasn't an upcoming adventure mode that has the possibility of rare dropped tools I would call this idea redundant. As for the standard tools, I have no problem with just replacing the whole tool, even diamond.
Stone and iron are easy to get and not worth repairing. As for diamond tools this idea makes diamonds less valuable, which is admittedly not a good or bad thing.
ATM diamonds are really only useful for one thing and that's tools. If this was implemented you would end up with way more diamonds then you actually need.
I suppose this makes diamond armor viable but that's still 24 diamonds (correct me if I'm wrong) that might still be too many diamonds to risk.
However if rare, uncraftable tools/ armor where ever to be introduced. This repair system would be an absolute necessity.