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I Forge Iron

My Tongs


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The attached pictures are of some of my tongs I used at my last job and still use on occasion in my forge here at home. The tongs in these pictures are of some of the ones I used to make the tongs for the hammer men on my own little power hammer. My own power hammer in the shop was a 200# Chambersburg with flat dies measuring about six inches wide (front to back) by eight inches long.The link here to youtube shows the same hammer as the type I used except, I had a foot control to run the hammer myself.


I formed the eye for the tongs using a simple block of steel 1" wide X 3'' long x 3/4" thick. I used this for all tongs, irregardless of size. To form the jaws I used a 'V' block with 3 different sizes of 'V' and a handled round bar of the correct size to form rounded jaws followed by a handled 'V' block to form jaws for square fitting tongs. Large diameter heater tong jaws (over 2") were drawn under the hammer then shaped by hand on the anvil prior to fitting on the tongs. I didn't use any swedges on the hammer but merely drew the reins of the tongs out and rounded them up on the flet hammer dies.

The tongs in this picture have heavier reins than I normally make for hand forging as they had to stand up to considerable use on the power hammer. The ones pictured here I have had for twenty five years now and other than the occasional adjustment are as made originally even after having been used to make thousands of other pairs of tongs. I worked alone all the time and very rarely needed an extra pair of hands.

In the first picture the tongs are (listed left to right);
1/4" rd chain link tongs
Hot inspector tongs (used to pick-up individual hot forgings for inspection)
1/4" square stock
1" rd stock
1 1/4 rd stock
Pick-up tongs (personal)
2" sq stock

All of these tongs were ones I used on my hammer. The tongs for the hammer men were made the same way only bigger to suit their own job, but the same technique and tools used were the same. All of these tongs and all the others I made were made from 1141 steel (C - 0.37 - 0.45, Mn- 1.35 - 1.65, P - 0.04 max, S - 0.08 - 0.13)
C - carbon content
Mn - Manganese
P - Phosphorous
S - Sulfur (re-sulfurized steel)
They are not heat treated in any way other than letting them air cool naturally after forging. They retain a good toughness and spring to the handles as forged and cooled.The tongs I made for all the drop hammers (3,000 to 5.000 # range) all had handles (reins) about 36" to 40" max in length. All the heater tongs had reins about 60" to 70" long. The tongs used on the 10,000 # air hammer were only 28" to 32" long due to the fact that the operators worked in close to the dies in order to operate a foot treadle to run the hammer. The tongs for the forging presses were also considerably lighter than the hammer operator tongs due to the different operation of a forging press as compared to a hammer. Also most of the forgings on the presses used the smaller diameter stock (0.843" to 0.954") as they were used primarily to forge connecting rod caps.

All reins on my tongs are round and the only exception was for heavier stock tongs (3" -4" rd) used on the large forging hammer, in which case I would assemble the tongs and then slightly flatten the top part of the reins near the eye (about 6" - 8") to give them greater strength to twist the forging up out of the die between blows to clear scale. All the reins on all my tongs ranged from 1/2" rd by the eye, down to between 3/8" to 1/4" rd at the ends.

The jaws on the forging tongs were never more than a 1/4" thick and for round stock were 2 1/2 to 3" max in length. The heater tongs for the larger round billets (2 1/2 to 4" rd) were longer of course to help compensate for the larger size and weight. Pick-up style heater tongs were tapered form about 5/8 " to about 1/2" in 8" before bending the ends 90 deg and fitting them for the appropriate size bar.

This is just a brief run through of how I make them. I also grind the inside faces of the eye of the tongs in a particular way to give a better fit and clearance on the jaws. I will do a blueprint of making my tongs with all the steps including forging, grinding, fitting and such when I hacve the opportunity to work on a little power hammer and someone to take pictures of each step. Hopefully it will be in the near future.







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