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I am just starting out and in the process of building an anvil. I am using a chunk of steel that was a counter weight off a cherry picker. I know mild steel can't be hardened but I was thinking about using 9018 welding rod to face the top to make it tougher. Anybody think this would work or have a better idea?

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Use it as is. A chunk of steel is harder than hot forgable steel. If it deforms too much and I'm wrong, then you can do a little grinding and hard face it then do a lot of hard grinding if you want. 

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I second the opinion of Daswulf. Deforming is not a big problem; and as your hammer skills improve, you will miss less. 

If the surface is hard; you can chip it. Chipping is dangerous & difficult to repair. Denting is harmless, apprentice-proof and easily fixed.

Word of caution tough; I know counterweights that have been made from cast iron (cast iron is cheaper to made weights). This isn't usable as an anvil; as it's way too brittle. You can test this by drilling it. If you can produce a long spiral chip; it's iron. If it produces short chips or powder; it's cast iron.

 

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Building anvils can quickly run you into more cost in time and consumables (welding rod/wire, gas, abrasives, heat treat etc..) especially when your starting out and don’t really understand what makes a a good anvil. 

For centuries a smallish hunk of wrought was an anvil, and after thousands of hours of use the top actually mushroomed over making it wider at the top. 

Unless you heat treat 9018 isn’t going to be much harder than A36 or 1018 anyway. 

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It all sounds like good advice. I'm gonna use my hunk of steel as is for now and see how it goes.

I am 100% sure this thing is mild steel. The reason for the 9018 instead of Stoody 1105 or something similar is that I have 50# of 9018 on hand.

I have some ruff sawed oak 8"x 9"x12'  I'm going to build my stand out of and then I plan to build a propane fired forge.

Thanks for all the sound advice and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.

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The "cube of metal" has been used as an anvil for about 3000 years, London pattern for about 300.  I also built some anvil stands from rough sawn oak. I cut to length, with the outer two pieces longer and then aligned them on an H beam (I-beam on it's side).  Clamped them with pipe clamps and drilled them with an electricians drill bit and used long bolts I got at the scrapyard to hold them together, been using them for years now... My cube anvil on it's side, the stake anvil I made to have a "horn" and an example of my anvil stumps:

670407416_Y1Kanvil2(2).jpg.1a92d377ca9cd086bd4e77b87bf24b62.jpg

  765811737_stake_anvils(2).jpg.f2a70bc3d293e123450d3f8994092655.jpg

  anvil_stumps.jpg.2a2d96242f709abc590ea33b447e534f.jpg

 

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