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As with all welding, 100% penetration is best. Anything less will lead to some sort of compromise in rigidity or life span before failure.

What do you have to bevel with? Files, small grinder, huge grinder, oxyfuel torch and cutting head, carbon arc gouger? What kind of weedburner do you have to preheat the plates to 300F before you start tacking up? How big are your welding rods? Is your supply unlimited? How beefy is your power supply? Do you have a shop crane and chain hoist to manipulate the work on the steel welding table so that you can do all of the welds in the flat or horizontal position? How about a just a sturdy steel bench and a crowbar, unless you just like squatting in the dirt for hours?

How good is good enough for a home made project? I assure you that plenty of third world smiths are making a living with far less than a welded up anvil, even a student version.

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I second  Mr. McPherson answer. Always 100 % full penetration. I suppose you saw my Youtube videos on how I built my anvils, I welded with 7018 rods and I used a 3 phase arc welding machine that gives me 250 Amps, power supply 380 V 3 X 16 Amp duty cycle 100% at 180 Amp. I used 4 mm rods rated for 140 -190 amps. With my machine I could have used 5 mm rods rated for 240 Amps but I did not want to burn neither the welding machine nor the electricity wiring at home. If you can use bigger diameter rods even better, you will finish your work faster. To use machinery that require more Amperage I am changing now my power supply from 3X 220V  25 Amp   to    3X 220 V  40 Amp.

As I said before, in my area anvils are extremely expensive and it is cheaper for me to build an anvil if I can source the right materials from the local junkyard. Rods, discs and electricity at my place are also fairly cheap. I takes a long time, but  I am stubborn enough to weld an anvil together and when you finish it it gives you a huge satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. So go forward with your project but if you do not show us pictures/videos, it did never happened...

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I cut a wide deep bevel on mine, and used many many 7014 rods, at about 120 amps. It performed very well with good penetration. But took a while, as at that amperage my machine is only about 60% duty cycle.   Welds burned right in, nice and flat, with very little grinding.

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The included angle we ran on full pen., 1" plate, butt joints was 60*, so 30* each edge which we precut with a track burner. That was just for test plates. The configuration of the pieces and the type of joint will dictate the angle that works well. A very wide angle will take a lot more weld metal than a very narrow one, and there are lots of different joint configurations, different groove shapes etc.  I ran 1/8" E7018 at 118 ~ 125 amps with preheat of 150* on mild steel when I tested. We shot for an interpass temperature of 250*, so that meant allowing enough time to cool to 250* before starting each pass.

Making a big chunk of homogeneous steel is not that hard. Making one that serves as a good anvil may be a bit harder! Have fun. :)

I was just remembering a hand made anvil that sat in the lab at school. It looked to be between 100 and 200 pounds. I never did learn the story behind that piece, who made it, how well it worked. 

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I second the notion that large chunks of homgeneous steel is not difficult in the modern day 

 

i needed a show anvil for a viking themed fair  there where no rules  but i wanted to be a touch more authentic i grabbed a scrap end of 8” square bar of prehardened 4140  ended up with a 115 lb block without trying very hard spent 3 hrs putting a 1” hardy hole in and love the result 

 

ps if you are anywhere near me i can keep an eye open for you 

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115# Viking anvil seems a bit inauthentic; most of the "larger" viking era ones I have seen were rocks.   My Y1K block anvil is about 25# and a bit hefty at that! (My set up is based on the Heylestad Church door carvings.)   On the other hand; out here site requirements often forbid all but propane forges due to fire risks; nothing more medieval than having the right garb, right tools, right anvil and having to use a propane forge!

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For an anvil as pointed out full penetration welds are best but not needed.  You could do partial pen welds and have it last 300 years.. It just really depends on your designs and how much you understand weld failure areas.  

What can be a problem is the HAZ zone if the metal is thinner that the faceplate. 

I have a stall jack that would crack at the haz zone all the time as it was a narrow section.  I just built up the area with every crack and they stopped.. I would have designed it differently but it's still going strong 32 years later. 

 

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