Standard fatigue precracking of fracture toughness specimens taken from stainless steel welds with a double-V design was found to result in extremely uneven crack fronts. Material variability within the weld zone could not explain the irregular crack fronts, which must therefore be associated with residual stress effects. Uniform fatigue cracks could be obtained by sectioning the double-V weld at the mid-thickness to relieve residual stresses and by precracking at a stress ratio of 0.4. Residual stresses can impact the leak-before-break position for welded structures.

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