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Anvil Welding or How to Weld Heavy Metal

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wcunning

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#1
All,

I've read a reasonable handful of discussions of welding up an anvil out of raw material, and very few of them seem to follow what my Lincoln "Metals and How to Weld Them" book would call good practices, so I'm hoping to get some advice here on what the right procedure/design would be to do the project I want to do...

A year or so ago, I bought a giant block of steel from a local scrap yard, 350#, 8"x4"x30". I suspect it's something in the neighborhood of 1018 cold rolled, and was likely machined flat at some point by a previous owner. I also have a number of large rounds, from 4" up to about 6.5", most more than long enough to make an anvil horn, most also suspected of being mild hot or cold rolled. In total, well north of 450# of material to make a great beast of an anvil, and all acquired at a paltry $0.18/#. I would also probably go to the local steel supplier (Alro for me) and pick up some kind of tool steel for the top plate, which while up there at $1.99/# or more, is still much cheaper than the ballpark $6/# that I see old anvils going for around here. My rough design would be to attempt a fairly faithful London pattern shape. I would probably bandsaw a fair bit off of the end of the large rectangular block to make the waist, potentially in a couple of pieces, with welds from the meat of the anvil to the waist, from the waist to a foot, from the meat to the horn, and a final weld from the tool steel striking plate to the top.

I have a bandsaw big enough to do that cutting, a mill to square everything up afterward and rotary fixtures to do quite a lot of the shaping for the horn in advance.

My main question for this forum is this: when welding steel that thick (4"x8" cross section) in a lamination for the purposes of making an anvil, what are the particulars of the weld? How deep should I vee out? Root and a couple of cover passes? Do I need to preheat the large pieces to 400~500* and allow the whole thing to cool slowly to avoid weld cracking? I'd probably use a large AC arc welder, so what rod should I be using for 1018 to tool steel? Is there a tool steel that will be easier to weld and thus more desirable?

I've done a few welding classes at the local community college and a reasonable amount of repair welding, so I'm not afraid of sticking metal together, but I've never worked on something that heavy before.

Thanks,
Will
 

Aukai

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#2
I like 7018, but I'm not an educated welder, someone more knowledgeable will be along.
 

Cadillac

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#4
For rod I would ask the supplier he'd have a good guess:D. Sounds like you got some good chunks of steel there! I would use that 8"x30"pc for the meat at the top and cut shape your horn to it so that top pc. is solid. Then take the pc. you cut off the 30" pc put under that if big enough. Unless you have some length on that 6.5" round. For the top I would go with maybe 3/4 or 1" tool steel. Don't know what but something that maybe could be harden. I swear I saw that after a fella welde up his own anvil that he threw it in a fire and got her red hot then let it cool in the ash for days. Idk but I think it pulls the carbon from the ash making it harder? Those size chunks are gonna be great for you!
 

RJSakowski

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#5
In years past, I made a new horn for an Armitage Mousehole anvil. The replacement horn was turned to rough out the horn shape and create the vee. The anvil body wasn't veed out. I had veed it out to the center, building up the vee with many passes. I don't recall the rod I used but most likely 6011 or 6013. The welder would have been a Miller M-180 ac machine. That was back in the mid seventies so about 40 - 45 years ago. In the 80's, I ground the original face off and forge welded a piece of semi leaf spring for a new face. The process involved heating the anvil to a welding heat and two of us striking with sledges to make the weld. In the process, a crack developed on the underside of the horn and I veed the crack out and rewelded. After I got my mill/drill, I milled the surface flat, drilled a pritchel hole, and made the hardy hole, cutting through the steel face and en;arging it ti present a fresh surface. Something more than 30 years later, I am still using that anvil.

Traditionally, the anvil face was hardened but the horn, aka a bick or beak, is wrought iron which is low carbon iron. I expect that I had used a low carbon steel for the replacement.
 

Fitter Bill

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#7
LINCOLNĀ® 7018 AC


AWS: E7018 H8

Top Features
  • AC polarity welding
  • Low open circuit voltage operation
  • Minimal spatter
  • Capable of cold re-strikes



Typical Applications
  • General fabrication
  • Tack and skip welds
  • Thin sections
Welding Positions
All, except vertical down
 

RJSakowski

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#8
LINCOLNĀ® 7018 AC


AWS: E7018 H8

Top Features
  • AC polarity welding
  • Low open circuit voltage operation
  • Minimal spatter
  • Capable of cold re-strikes



Typical Applications
  • General fabrication
  • Tack and skip welds
  • Thin sections
Welding Positions
All, except vertical down
I have used it and it is great. No comparison to other 7018 rods that I've tried.
 

ericc

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#9
Try not to leave large voids under the direction of the hammer's blows else they can flex and absorb the force. In other words, don't horizontally stack plates and only weld them on their edges. It is better to stack them on edge, so that the voids are not in bending moment. You do not need to achieve full pen welds, but try to avoid leaving gaping holes. For example, a steel box makes a poor anvil, but it is better than none.

Another thing: a lot of smiths say 7018 is not a good rod for welding anvils. To clarify, it is not a good rod for the face and working edges of an anvil. If you are a beginner and you forge on weekends, it doesn't matter. If you are not a beginner, and you work full time on the anvil, you will notice degradation and loss of performance.
 

BtoVin83

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#11
My dad had a bick about 4' tall, don't know where it went when we moved to the new shop
 

wcunning

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#13
Thanks for all the comments guys, I'm really learning a lot here.

Clarifications:

-- I have an old Century arc welder that lists itself as good for 100% duty cycle up to 80A and 60% up to 150A, so I expect I'll be fine running some heavy/deep passes. I was planning on using 7018 rod for most of the welding, though I was debating 6010 for the root pass and 7018 for cover passes like the structural welding instructors at the community college taught people to do.

-- I also have a great big oxy-acetylene setup with a rosebud tip, so I was planning on doing quite a bit of preheating to get the whole chunk up to 500 degrees or so before starting with the actual welding. All of the welding books I've seen recommend this for large pieces of metal to prevent cracking further away from the weld where the temperature gradient in the material is high. The confusing part is that all of those books then say something like "if appropriate for your specific alloy/weld design/etc." which I can't say is true or false with any real confidence...

-- I was planning on buying something like a 1" thick plate of tool steel for the striking face. I was leaning towards S7, since it's an impact resistant tool steel, rather than a straight hardness one, but I'd be willing to hunt for something else if it will be easier to weld.

-- @Cadillac : I like your point. I could setup the bandsaw to trim the end of the large block to a point and round it from there with a grinder rather than trying to get a horn shape out of a round, since that'll be a *lot* of work. That also means that I can pretty directly replicate the "normal anvil shape" and leave the low carbon steel for the horn and just have the tool steel top on the striking face and edges, as @RJSakowski pointed out.

-- @ericc : That's exactly what I'm concerned about. I was planning on one giant solid block for the meat of the anvil with a weld connecting it to a second fairly large solid block that makes up the entire waist of the anvil. I think you're recommending against that design, but I'm not sure exactly how else to do it. Would you cut the waist block into thirds or quarters vertically and weld them on to the meat separately so as to get maximum weld connection/penetration at that joint? Or do you suggest something else?

Thanks again guys!
Will
 

Cadillac

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#14
I would think layering it like a cake would be best. With at least a 1" deep V around each piece. Preheat like you were saying then I would go with a heavier amperage 200 plus. Crank it up and start laying some rod. 6010 would be good choice of rod. I like to go 180 degrees opposite of the first bead when doing multiple,multiple passes. A 300 lb anvil is gonna be a beast either way you slice it. :p
 
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