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How to forge this tongs

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Im hoping somebody has actually forged one of these fireplace tongs?Its the old classic style, with a box joint. Ive tried and come kind of close but id love some advise from anybody who has done them from start to finish. I dont want to machine them. I want to do it the old fashioned way with no fancy tools. Im using 3/4" square bar for the female side, slot punched the slot, shouldered it down. But its the female side with the tongue that's catching me. Anybody got information...links...???

Id love to chat. Ive searched the web

Its full of all the standard tongs...but there's nothing on these. Please help :-)

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Im hoping somebody has actually forged one of these fireplace tongs?Its the old classic style, with a box joint. Ive tried and come kind of close but id love some advise from anybody who has done them from start to finish. I dont want to machine them. I want to do it the old fashioned way with no fancy tools. Im using 3/4" square bar for the female side, slot punched the slot, shouldered it down. But its the female side with the tongue that's catching me. Anybody got information...links...???

​Female side is the side with the slotted hole. Male side would be the one with the tongue. Do we need to explain why any farther? :lol:

I'm not sure I understand what part you are having issues with. Basically you are looking at a mortise and tenon joint. The only difference is the tenon can rotate in the mortise. That's where the "tapers" at the bottom  and the slot come in. Easiest way to deal with a lot of this would be with file work. Rough it in, then file to fit.

I think Peter Ross has a video on him doing a set of box joint dividers. I'd got to HF and buy a cheap pair of pliers or side cutters and sacrifice them so I could use that as my template to shape the box joint.

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No need explain which is male / female any further...very well done for spotting that :rolleyes:. So have you forged these yourself? Sounds like you have not. Anybody can see its a morticse and tennon joint. Its the forging of the detail of the slope on the tennon side im interested in. Again, calling on someone who has actually forged one of these tongs...

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Still not quite sure what your difficulty is…. "slope on the tenon side"…do you mean the the angle of the shoulders? 

I do not really qualify to respond by your criteria as I have not actually forged one of these tongs, I do not like the anthropometrics of them, but I have forged tenons with angled shoulders. 

You could either make the shoulder square then file it as DSW suggested, or just present your workpiece to your necking tools at the appropriate angle. In that case the tenon will of course come off the parent bar at an angle given you are taking more metal on one side than the other, but that looks like it would be to your advantage given the form required.

The illustrated version is fairly crudely made and may well have come almost from the hammer, but mostly they were filed to fit, you can often see the file marks.

Alan

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Have you taken Blacksmithing 101 yet? Forging a taper is one of the first things covered. It is unlikely anyone has made a box joint with tapers...possible, but it looks to me like the rather crude smith who made them compensated for his inability to forge a square mortise by tapering the tang. Obviously forge the mortise box, then make a few practice pieces until you can make the tenon fit it. You should be able to get almost close enough with just a hammer and anvil then refine with a file until it is a nice snug fit. Note that the end of the tenon is round and stop demanding help only from someone who has made the exact pair. It isn't rocket surgery. 

Since you seem absolutely clueless, hold the end of the male piece near the far edge of the anvil and hit it at an angle as close as possible to the angle you are trying to recreate. By the time the thickness is reduced enough you should be pretty close to the round shape you need. If not, take another heat and round it nicely but you don't need to get it perfect, you can still file it.  it may help to draw a circle of the diameter you are shooting for in soapstone out of the way on the anvil so you can quickly check your work. Likewise you can gauge the taper in the same way. Sometimes I make 4 or 5 or more practice pieces until I figure it out.  Learning how to figure out how to make stuff is what this craft is all about. 

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Forgive me for the off topic question, but could someone explain to me what I'm looking at. The OP said they were fireplace tongs, but I'm having trouble comprehending how they work. Is that short piece with the rounded end a handle, and you hold a piece of firewood with the other end? If so, what provides the leverage to hold closed the tongs? Or is that piece a poker and you hold the firewood in the curved area below the hinge? That would seem pretty awkward to place the log where you want it. Like I said, I'm totally missing what these tongs are designed for and how they work. Thanks to anyone who want to explain it to me!

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Antique%20Brass%20and%20Burnished%20Stee

. Is that short piece with the rounded end a handle, and you hold a piece of firewood with the other end?

​Yes -this is the rest of the story.  They are very elegant, however as Alan suggests, they are not overly utilitarian. -grant

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Not if you are burning coal in your fireplace grate think Victorian London and try to pick up a hot coal with your regular fireplace tools!

 

(works for picking up embers as well when burning wood but is not designed for logs!)

Edited by ThomasPowers

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Thanks! So, the handle is mostly for looks, and one operates it by grabbing both sides of the tongs to squeeze them together?

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Thanks! So, the handle is mostly for looks, and one operates it by grabbing both sides of the tongs to squeeze them together?

​ Correct; for an interesting variation look up "pipe tongs" used to lift a coal up to light your pipe back when matches were not common

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The reason I don't like them is the awkwardness of having to open them with the uncushioned knuckle side of one or two fingers and closing them with the others. They do fall open by gravity but you are still limited to your angle of approach unless you do the two finger shuffle grip.

Spring/Bow tongs which open by spring pressure, or loop handled scissor tongs which use all knuckles to open and all fingers to close are far more versatile tools.

 

​ Correct; for an interesting variation look up "pipe tongs" used to lift a coal up to light your pipe back when matches were not common

​As a pipe smoker of many years I know my arms are not long enough to use such cumbersome things to light my pipe. I could probably light yours though providing you didn't come too close!

A friend of my father's son who was training to be a blacksmith was commissioned to make some pipe tongs for him…I still have them. They had an extended rivet head to act as a tobacco tamper…trouble was the friend and his son were both 6' 4'' and my father was only 5'7" there was a definite failure in the scale department!

Alan

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Thanks for the laugh Alan!

 

OP-  IIRC Donald Streeter's book Professional Smithing has step by step (with photos) instructions on making these.  I've never made a pair thou so won't presume to tell you how I'd do it.

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​Yes -this is the rest of the story.  They are very elegant, however as Alan suggests, they are not overly utilitarian. -grant

​They are more than sufficient for lighting pipes and cigars which is what they are used for. 

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I could show you how to do that even thou I have not done that exact piece. I don't know how to post this on this site, but if you come by my shop at a time that I could show you , I'd welcome the opportunity to show you how I would approach it. 

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Further to your PM. Yes you are correct, you do need to work both sides of the tenon down at the same time.

Look up the "necking tools" I referred to.

A simple spring fuller like you describe but made out of a bit of 10mm (3/8") round would give you a shoulder on each side at the same time. basically an oversize hair grip or U bend. Remember to give it a tap or two then turn the metal over and another tap or two to keep the tenon central through out the process. You present the bar to the spring tool either at right angles to the axis of the bar or at any angle you need, i.e. for the tong joint.

To achieve a sharp shoulder look up "necking butcher"  it is a blunt chisel (a small radiused edge rather than sharp) with a bevel on just one side (the tenon side in this case). This gives you a square shoulder and then an angled lead in on the tenon side which you can hammer down. You need a matching pair/spring tool in order to do both shoulders at once which helps to keep them in line. However I learnt to align the shoulders just using a single top tool necking butcher and have never needed the guided versions.

When drawing down the tenon, make sure you do not hit your nice clean shoulder by mistake. If you make up a spring tool with flat / plain blocks you can use that to hit top and bottom at the same time and work right up to the shoulder.

There are nuances to look out for and that you will discover…if using a round bar as a fuller to establish a shoulder for a tenon, do not allow it to go down to the halfway point. You will be left with right angle which you will be trying to forge down into the tenon piece and that will lead to a crack, fold or cold shut. 

When you are establishing your shoulders with the butcher/fuller do not go down to the finished size of the tenon, when you subsequently forge the tenon to size it will drag down the material at the shoulder root to below size and the tenon will be weak/undercut. To avoid this establish the shoulder leaving the root slightly over size,  forge down the tenon and then dress the root to the final dimension at the last.

Alan

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I wrote the above out assuming you have access to only basic hammer and anvil at present. If you have a foot hammer or someone who can strike for you or you can juggle the worpiece by holding it between your legs, you can use a "set hammer" and the edge of you anvil to give you precise blows to draw out the tenon without hitting the shoulder. If your anvil edge is too soft you can use a square cornered block of steel as a bottom block, Again remove the wire edge of the block to give a slight radius.

A "set hammer" is like a small "flatter", with a face about 25 - 40mm (1" - 1 1/2") square. It has square parallel sides so it will work up close to the shoulder and does not rock and create a taper like a larger faced "flatter" would if the centre of the face was overhanging the end of the tenon material. Usually they are rodded, having a wooden handle like a hammer or a wrap of heavy wire twisted around. As an instant one though just a piece of 25mm square mild steel will work, long enough to hold like a chisel and keep your hand away from the heat.

Alan

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Alan, thank you for taking the time to describe the process for me in such detail, much appreciated. Looking forward to giving this a go.

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In use try holding it so the movable jaw is up. Once you open the jaws with your thumb and forefinger, the weight if the jaw sould aply enough force to hold the ember, chunk of coal or small wood. 

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