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For me, it's faster, cheaper, and more consistent.  I've watched your tutorial on youtube a few hundred times, but I still can't get to that point where drawing out the reins is as quick as you demonstrate.

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Kind of like the square-octagon-round method of shaping wrought iron to keep it from fraying. Not required on homogeneous steel, but it is *TRADITION*, by gum.

 

And I weld 'em on because I have access to arc welders. :rolleyes:  And a gas forge for shaping.

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Posted · Hidden March 27, 2014 - Irrelevant as he asks same question after G Boggs
Hidden March 27, 2014 - Irrelevant as he asks same question after G Boggs

I was hoping someone that teaches this might chime in and give the reasoning behind it. I never did it until at a conference where someone was teaching it in a workshop. I had been forging for over 20 years at that point, and I still drew the bar out so it was lighter and had more spring in it.

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I was hoping someone that teaches this method would chime in and give the reasoning behind it. I had been smithing for about 20 years before I heard of modern smiths welding on reins, and I participated in a workshop where they were doing this. I would not do it again though because I like my reins to be lighter and have more spring. I'd still draw the reins out to achieve that, and it's much easier to draw a small section of 3/4" than an equal volume of 3/8".

I think they did it in the past to conserve on their better quality steels, but I'm just guessing.

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I have done it in the past (forge welded)  when I needed reins that were 3-4' long.  I needed to use 1" to get the mass for the hinge and bits but drawing out 3-4' without a big hammer took too long.    Even with a big hammer drawing out 3-4' straight and round can be a pain to do. 

 

I do have a pair of tongs from a drop forge shop where the reins are a medium carbon steel for the spring but the bits are mild so they will not harden if cooled in water from a red heat.

 

Nothing to say you cannot taper reins that are welded on. 

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This is something I'm trying work trough now, I have only made about 12 tongs (that survived) so still a steep learning curve for me. So far I have drawn all of them out, but have been tempted to weld on the reins for some for comparrison.

 

Brian, can you elaborate on why the drawn out are lighter and have more spring? Sincerely interested and curious.

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Very unlikely that smiths were trying to save steel by welding reins. Very few tongs were made with steel until the 1900s and at this point steel was much cheaper than before. It was simply faster for people to take a bar that is already close to size for reins and forge weld it to a larger mass needed for the jaws.
It may be faster for you to draw down a large bar, but it was generally faster for English smiths in the past working wrought iron to weld on a smaller bar. And many tongs that have welded on reins still taper from hinge to end.
It's all about a tool that is strong enough for the job at hand and then speed in building the tool. The weld does nothing for the tongs along the lines of the tools function, so it has to be speed in building the tool.

Many tongs that were made in large shops with power hammers will have drawn out reins becouse of the hammer

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I dont have a hammer large enough to justify drawing things out. It would take me about 3 minutes to weld on reigns as opposed to 1-2 days to draw out any reins to size.


I just fire weld mine. I feel that is still "the old way" of doing things.

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I gave my reason: I find it easier to forge weld on the reins and draw down a smaller amount, than starting with a larger diameter of mass and trying for the same results.  You feel  it's easier to draw down the larger mass.  Two different approaches, same end result.

As for the teacher focus, why?  Lot of good smiths out there that don't teach.  But as you asked, I teach this method, because regardless of whether one or the other is a better method, few beginning smiths have the hammer skill to draw down any large size of metal.  Their blows simple do not penetrate to the center of the bar.  When I teach someone, I try to inspire them to push their limits, but I also give them tasks that at their skill level are achievable.

 

Gerald - I thought you liked to do things the hard way, your a black smith after all. Shouldn't you make the reins by bicep building blows from your hammer ; ) ?

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I remember a meeting at SOFA where the demo was making tongs from a handfull of "bits and pieces" that were then arc welded together to produce usable tongs in a minute or two.

 

The joint were two pieces of trapazoidal plate that you arc welded the bits and the reins on.

 

More than one way to climb a mountain.

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I don't know if I'm able to articulate this very well but I'll give it a try.  Watching Brian's tong making videos makes the entire process seem very smooth, fast, and graceful.  I'm consistently impressed by how much work gets done every heat.

 

Similarly it's incredible to see how quickly a piece of stock is drawn out on a Uri Hofi demonstration for example.  It's clear to me that skill and practice make a huge difference in what's "quicker" to a given smith.

 

It certainly seems like some smiths would have the reigns drawn out on a set of tongs before a welder could get the leads unrolled.  

 

I would love to be capable of such a feat.  I figure you've got to pick your starting point - some folks aren't going to be happy unless they smelt their own iron - others view blacksmithing as an adjunct to fabrication.

 

For the record,  I can see the instructional value of making tongs both ways.  Drawing out stock efficiently is something I'm certainly striving for.

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Gerald; which "old way"?  Goat skin bellows on a ground forge using charcoal and real wrought iron?  (I myself draw the line at the ground forge; though I have done a bit of twin single action bellows and a side blown charcoal forge with real wrought iron...I based it on the carvings on the  Hylestad stave church including the anvil...)

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There seems to be a difference in welding. I know it is tradisonal to forge weld reins on. But there seems to also be some people that electrically weld on reins. That method definetly is new. Using electricity seems slow if your already forging tongs in a hearth that will reash welding temperatures.
Forge welding reins is quick and good practice for general.

I have some friends that use coal forges every day and they weld on reins when new tongs are needed even though they are all proficient with a hand hammer and striking

It's just fast if you do many forge welds every day

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Gerald; which "old way"?  Goat skin bellows on a ground forge using charcoal and real wrought iron?  (I myself draw the line at the ground forge; though I have done a bit of twin single action bellows and a side blown charcoal forge with real wrought iron...I based it on the carvings on the  Hylestad stave church including the anvil...)

You use an anvil? That's a bit modern don't you think? 

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MLMartin, you say it's "traditional" to weld on reins. I think it is a modern tradition.

 

Why so? Many things were welded up out of bits and pieces when iron/steel was so rare that houses were burned down to salvage the nails in them. 

 

I repaired a strap hinge welded from 5 separate pieces. 

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Burning down homes for nails in early colonial America is a myth. Ask any of the smiths from Colonial Williamsburg. And just think for yourself how hot does a building get that's burning? More than hot enough and the burn time long enough for little nails to oxidize and flake away.
The smiths there also teach forge welding reins on tongs as a common way of building them. Certainly all tongs in history's were not made this way. Smith all over the world make things many different ways. But I do know that at least in Britain for the past 300 something years it has been a common practice used. Yes this is short in the total history of iron, but hardly modern.

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i was taught that if you want nice springy handles that you are better off forge welding on some spring steel (around here tedder teeth very nice stuff to work with) with mild steel for the jaws then

this lets you use a nice piece of spring steel for the handles and a chunk of mild steel for the jaws

this lets you reforge and quench tongs with less worry of them getting brittle from quenching or work hardening

and to be honest i am very happy to save the time and  energy needed to draw out the handles

if i am making tongs its bc i need them for a project and that is what i am getting payed for not the time i am spending making the tongs

as to the argument that all steel had to be forged down to a desired size seems a bit silly by this argument unless you are starting from a bloom and working your way to your tongs you are not doing it in the traditional manner

though i bet if you go back in time you would still find shops with steel sorted by size and not a pile of ingots waiting to be forged to shape

you had the handy apprentice to set to a task such at forge 10 ft of 1/2 inch round (chop chop)

 

that being said whose to say that my "teacher" was right as to this is the way to make tongs

 

just my 2cp

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