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Question on making my first pair of tongs


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'm starting out and don't have any tongs and the ones online look to be much more expensive than I would expect, so i was thinking of trying to make a pair on my own first.. Problem is, I don't have tongs to hold the metal to make tongs:P I heard people in several places here say that vise-grips are bad, but would they be reasonable just until I've made tongs of my own? Or is it even reasonable to try to make tongs of my own? I would be using some 1.5' long 1/2" diameter *really* rusted things I found somewhere that I think used to be bolts. Would using a metal like that be a bad choice?

Is it safe to use a round cold chisel (it came in a container with other cold chisels but was round and tapers to a point) or a nail setter (that looks much the same as the thing I think is a round cold chisel), as a hot punch?


And while I'm at it, what type of tongs should I make/buy first?




Thank you:)

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Greetings Newbie,


Sound like you got just the basics in skill and equipment....  To improve you tool inventory and safely  do it I would suggest that you give up one night out and purchase a set of wolfjaw  tongs... They are very universal and should put you on your way to build others..  Also start with some standard stock before you attempt unknown steel...


Keep safe and forge on     Jim

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If I were you I would not give up on making your own tongs, although I would wait a little bit. If you have the money for a set of tongs I would buy several 10 foot length's of various sizes stock, as I can justify that much better than buying something I can make. If you don't have that kind of money, a lot of steel yards have a "remnant" pile, or a pile of drops from pieces that are cut to length for customers. Items in such piles usually go for a much better price. If you are just starting out, I would suggest that you do the following exercises before you make your tongs, always being careful to keep the metal hot enough to be visibly incandescant in the shade, but not hot enough to burn:
Take 1/2 inch square mild steel stock. I would take about 3 feet of this (so you can hold on to it) and try to make it round, and then square again. I will not lie, it is tedious, but you will learn very much about how steel moves, how it reacts at different temperatures, and how you can hit it/place it on the anvil to make it do different things. After that, I would taper it to a square point, and then take the square point and round it.
Take 1/4 inch square mild steel stock. Again use about three feet for the same reason. If round, taper an end square, and then round the taper. Put a very small hook on the end (1/2 inch radius). Quench just this hook in water and bend a hook with a larger radius the other direction. The reason for this is so that you can hang something on it without the point poking a hole in a hat or a coat. heat up about 2 to 4 inches of steel starting from the end of the bend in the hook, put it in a vice and give it a twist. Finally, pound about 1/2 to 1 inch of metal just above that twist to about 1/8 inch thick and 1/2 inch wide and let the whole piece cool. Cut the metal off with a hacksaw at the top end of the flat, and drill a hole in it. Make a few of these and when the metal starts getting too hot to handle just put it in your scrap pile for later.
You should now be ready to make a set of tongs. I would suggest either using 16 inches 3/4 inch mild round stock, or about 30 inches of 3/8 inch by 1 inch mild flat bar. In either case, the hardest part will be drawing out the reins. For instructions on these I would either comb the IFI forums (here), Anvilfire's "I-Forge How To" section (for the flat bar "easy-tongs" method), or look for Brian Brazeal's video on how to make tongs from 3/4 inch roundstock. Cold rivet them and make sure that you fit these tongs to whatever you are using, and don't be afraid to change the bit on them if they don't work for the stock you're using.
If you or a friend have a welder I would get some 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch (3/8 preferred) round stock and a long enough piece of 3/4 round stock to make the business end of the tongs in the method that Brian Brazeal presents in his video, and just cut them off where the reins start and weld the smaller round on to them.

Edited by Jerome Werth
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You CAN use vise grips though they aren't the best choice but anything in a pinch. there are a number of how to videos and tutorials for making tongs here, take the time and go through them a couple times. Making tongs is an excellent practice project with a number of necessary techniques.


However, for the getting started pair, simple twist tongs are fast, easy and require very little smithing experience. Start with two equal lengths of mild strip stock, 1/4"x1" is good. with them tacked or solidly clamped together drill a hole through them about 1 1/2" from one end. Put a bolt through the hole and nut it. Now heat it to a nice bright red or low orange and clamp the short end in the vise with the nut and bolt about 1/2" +/- above the jaws. Be fast you need the heat. now twist it 90*. Pull it from the vise and heat it again. clamp it back in the vise long end down about the same distance below the nut&bolt, twist it 90* back.


Now you have a pair of twist tongs needing only to be adjust to the stock you're holding with them.


They ain't pretty, are darned limited in what they'll hold BUT they'll get you started. you can modify them as needed or tweak the design for another set(s). These are the kind of tongs you can make camping from found materials using a couple Crescent wrenches and a nail for a punch/rivet.


Frosty The Lucky.

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