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I Forge Iron

Tong progression


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Hello, folks!  I had some trouble connecting to these forums a while back and was worried they were offline. Glad to see that's not the case!  I haven't been smithing as much as I'd like since my last posts here, but I wanted to post some tongs I've made since then.

This was to be my first set. The material was altogether too thin and they were destroyed while punching.


This is the first set that were "successful". They weren't long enough, though, and rather uncomfortable..



I wanted to try something different for the next set, so I tried a pair of v-bit bolt tongs (with help from a design on anvilfire). They were successful but my stock material was too small, they're too flimsy for anything substantial. I still find them useful for small pieces such as leaves, though.



(no hating on my marred up, haggard old anvil!)


Finally, my last set. I just made these about 2 weeks ago out of a couple railroad spikes. They're the sturdiest and best formed ones I've made yet, but there are many imperfections.




The bits aren't very uniform, one is much thicker than the other, and was much longer before a trip to the grinder. They do seem to be getting better, though. Any thoughts? I'm trying to improve their form but I could really use some pointers, I don't want to keep any bad habits.

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Very kind of you to ask, Dave! But that would put me back with handling hot iron with channel locks, which I've found to be dangerous on a good day.


Thanks matto! It's been really frustrating for me, too. I'm going to try to make another set soon. After working with channel locks and vice grips that just can't cope with the abuse from the hammer and anvil, I feel like I need to have a few very decent tongs around to attempt making much of anything without a headache.

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Your tongs are really improving.  Your progression is a good lesson to others new to tong making.  Just keep at it and you get better tong by tong.  Try 3/8" x 3/4" for your next v-bit gooseneck tongs.  I just finished two and that's a good stock to start with.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You might look into slitting the hole and drifting it rather than punching.  That way the stock moves around the opening rather than removing a big slug from the middle.  It's possible to punch a hole that's larger than the parent stock that way.

I've found that starting with thicker stock is easier for a beginner.  It's also easier to use stock that's long enough to be it's own handle while you're working the other end.

I've also found that I get more consistent results on anything that has to match if I do each step on every piece before moving on to the next step.  Lining them up on the anvil reveals differences that I would've missed otherwise.


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Great job! My first set of tongs took all day to forge and looked rough but every set gets better. I can have a working pair in about an hour now. 5/8" rebar is cheaper than dirt and makes good tongs, low carbon will keep them from getting brittle quenching. The RR spikes should be good tong metal too. Keep it up and show us your next pair.

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