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Scrolling tongs


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Louise, are you left handed or right handed? Which ever it is look at that hand for a pattern. Touch your index finger to your thumb and there you have it. Except they don't have to be as fat since steel is much stronger than fingers. The rest of the tongs...eye, rivet, reins etc can be found in the blueprints.

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Don't overlook the idea of modifying some old used or cheap chinese pliers to make some scrolling tongs. Just need to find some appropiately sized to the work you want to do with them.

Some times they just need to be tweaked and ground/rounded to make them work, others may need some forging.

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They say a picture says a thousand words so here's three to help....:D

The main thing to get a grasp of is shapes, nearly everything in smithing boils down to shapes. A hammer is after all, just a lump of suitable grade steel you make into a 'hammer' 'shape'. Practice helps with your understanding of how to make the 'shape' you want appear from the stock you start with. Take a close look at picture 2. You can see the offset on the tongs where the rivet will go, this is deliberate so that when they're riveted together the round tapered jaws will sit parallel to each other. All thats left to do with this pair is to draw down the reins.

Hope this helps.




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Here's a sketch of my scroll tongs.

See also BP0246


where there's a picture of these tongs somewhere.

They are certainly a favourite, possibly because my daughter (aged eight or nine at the time) was instrumental in their making if for no other reason. They work good too so I suppose that's another reason.

Start with about 1" x 3/8" bar and shape the jaw and reins from that. Maintain the 3/8" dimension for the full length except for the tip of the jaw. The jaw is just a short, round taper for about 2/3 the length from the eye.

Drill or punch the eye in each rein. By the way, both sides are exactly the same. THERE IS NO LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE. At this stage there is no shape looking at the 3/8" dimension...it should lay flat on the anvil. Now rivet them together.

Bugger, they're stuck aren't they and the jaws don't line up nor do the reins. Heat the jaw area and set the jaws together and jog the reins till everything lines up. Ease the reins apart until the tongs open and shut freely. Quench them with short jabs into the tub opening and shutting them all the while. Simple yet functional all you need to do is think about aesthetics. There is no reason why the tongs can't be simple, functional AND artful.


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Like Chris said, I simply modified a set of ring pliers, and they work great. Kinda like this:

Only mine are not good German tools. They were 2 for $9.95 at Tractor Supply. One straight jaw, one was bent 90 degrees. I cut the plastic grips off of the handles.



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Actually, it depends on the size you need. For larger work I made a pair using the standard "tong method" as shown earlier in this thread (all tongs are similar, just different jaws), but I don't use them much. The pair that I use the most are roung nosed that I modified from a medium large set of needle nose pliers. They're just right for finishing small curls. Larger stuff works well with one of several bending forks.


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If you decide to make your own tongs,don't put the rivet in until you get the fit you want. I say this from experience.I recently made a pair of scrolling tongs.....thought it would be easy to adjust the jaws after riveting. Well, I WAS WRONG!
I finally had to grind off the rivet and do some reshaping. As the tongs were not closing properly, they needed a little file work on the inside of the pivots. This was impossible with the rivet in place.
The lesson I learned? I now use a threaded screw(or small bolt) and a nut to test my tongs and how they work.If something needs tweakng,it's easy to take them back apart.
Then put the rivet in place.

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Well i've had a good day's work....i printed off all the pics and thought of all the advice, had a good bash about and i am now getting my head around the whole concept. I think i have it......just needs practice now. I also did as suggested and reforged some tin snips..bit rough but they work and helped me see how it all works. So now i have been totally distracted from what i wanted the tongs for in the first place and am just interested in making tongs now! Doh!

Thanks all......great stuff!

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