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My first tongs and I have a problem...

Charles McDonald

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Hello there!
Today I made my first set of tongs which I forged out of one foot of 1/4" x 1" mild steel flat bar.
I decided to do twist jaw tongs and I had an issue with some small cracks that formed just below the jaws on the twist. I am wondering what caused this since initially they weren’t there to my knowing until I was making final adjustments. Perhaps my eyes failed me. Anyway, do any of you know what the reason is behind this? Any information would be very much appreciated and thank you in advance.





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It is a little hard to say from the pictures but I would say you may have ended up with a "cold shut" in the corner or a sharp inside corner. You have to be careful in transitions in thickness not to fold or smear the metal or end up with cuts in the corners. If you get something like that you should file or grind the cold shut out as they often turn into cracks. I would clean up your corner with a file or a LIGHT touch with a grinder, any crack is only going to grow. Be careful not to have any sharp inside corners when you clean it up as this will be a flex and eventual breaking point.

You may have also twisted the corner too cold, make sure you have nice round corners before you twist as well. Sharp corners can end up causing cold shuts. I am personally not a big fan of twisting to make the jaws although I have a friend who makes lots of nice tongs that way. Look up POZ tongs to see an alternate way to make the bits when making tongs out of flat stock.

You mention not noticing till you were doing final adjustments, make sure things are smoothed out before doing those final adjustments and make sure you do them hot.

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Thank you for your reply!
On these Ill take your advice and simply try and file out the small cracks, but this isnt my last set of tongs and I want to get past this issue, so your words have given me some good things to consider. I found a site this evening where a guy gives instructions on how to make twist jaw tongs and I noticed he only made a 45 degree turn and returned to the fire for a second 45. Maybe I am making my turns too cold...

I found a good topic on here about POZ tongs thanks for mentioning that as well. I'll have to make some of those soon.

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It is very possible that you ended up with a cold shut. Be sure to use a soft radius edge when forging those areas.

Most of the time, it seems like those cracks come from overworking and area and working it too cold. They will go away as you get faster at forging, and learn the temperature range that the steel should be in.

I would suggest not doing the twist tongs. get some good 1/2-inch round bar, and try forging that.


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In order to make the fuller mark for the twist, it really helps to have a "Z-fuller". This is just a 3/8 or 1/2" bar bent in a Z shape and laid flat on the surface of the anvil. It makes a nice clean fuller mark. The sharp edge of an anvil can cause all kinds of cold shut problems, as can any sharp edges of the hammer. A buddy with a torch can help fix up those cracks if you don't want to file them out. Also, a deft hand with a stick welder will help.

My first pair of tongs had similar cracks at the same place. Careless, yes, but they weren't made by me. I bought them at a garage sale. They lasted 4 years before the crack went all the way through, then a touch with the stick welder fixed them right up. They were my worst tongs, and I was really sad when I lost them. I don't know why, because all of my current tongs are much better, and I can whip up another pair just like those, but I still miss them.

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Thank you for the tip! I will have to try using some 3/8 as a fuller instead of using the anvil edge like I did initially. The anvil I used has very sharp corners on it as opposed to my larger anvil and it really hadn’t dawned on me this might be an issue until now.
I haven’t had the chance yet to try and conquer this issue yet since I’ve been making a workbench and an area to set up my post vise, but this weekend its tong making time

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