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I Forge Iron

RR Spike Tongs


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Finished these today. These are my first set of tongs I've made, though I only get partial credit because I used a kit from Ken's Iron. I was looking for better tongs to hold a spike, and I found these that hold it by the head. They were only sold as a kit though. I decided it would be a good two for one to get new tongs and use a kit to baby step into learning how to make tongs. I also ordered a few other kits of various kinds so that once I figure out more of what I'm doing and what I need I can make some to suit whatever I find myself needing. It'll be a bit before I take on the next pair though. I need to step back and practice some of the basic techniques. I've been mostly doing bladesmithing, so I've been working on making things flat and square. Taking something flat and square and trying to make it round is a wee bit harder (or at least seems so to me). I'll have to get some cheap square stock and practice making it round so my next set can have nicer reins. I also had to tweak on the jaws quite a bit to get them gripping right because my initial bend wasn't sharp enough. They're functional though! Picture they are holding a spike I upset today for my next hatchet project (I'm going to try forge welding in a bit this time!). I also used them to hammer out a practice spike knife and they made it much easier than before fumbling with my regular tongs.



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A right angle grinder can hide a multitude of sins... And  belt grinder can do it quicker...

Those look functional, but don't give up too soon...  And even though you have already riveted them, that doesn't have to prevent you from working on them more if you want them to look nicer... Tongs work SO MUCH better with good finishing.

When you are working down the reins on these kits, chamfer the corners with your hammer, lightly up near the boss where the rivet goes, and more heavily as you reach the end of the reins. Then come back and chamfer the new corners you just produced, again lightly up by the boss, and a little more as you get to the end of the reins.  So you go from 4 sides, to 8 sides, to 16 sides, then you can just lightly round the ends of the reins. If you have a swage block or a hardie with swages you can hammer the reins into the swage. You want to use the swage to round up the outside of the reins, when you hit with your hammer on inside reins.  You can wire brush the pieces while they are hot, a lot of this type of work is done at a lower temperature so as you planish the facets the scale will clear itself somewhat.  I still like to wire brush to get a nicer forged finish, some guys don't bother.  Often times it is nice to file a chamfer on the edges of precut kits like that.  When you are forging tongs out from bar stock the jaws look fine, but the unnatural sharp edges on the kits look like they need, to be hot rasped, or filed cold before you even fire up the forge to round the reins and do the bends...  In the hinge at the boss, I would be tempted to file a chamfer all the way around the boss on the outsides, I would leave the mating surfaces with the corners still on if the tongs don't bind.  Kit tongs like this don't tend to bind as much as tongs forged out of bar.  If you make a mistake in how you take the bites as you forge the bits, the boss, and the transition to the reins, you sometimes need to come in with hot rasp, or a file and smooth things up so they don't bind or interfer...

One other improvement I might suggest, is to heat the whole boss area up again, and adjust the reins so that the tongs can hang on a rack, without spreading the jaws open too much...  The tongs look nicer hanging on the rack with the jaws closed, and they are easier to get off the rack as well if the reins hang with some distance between them,,, Otherwise the rack forces the reins out, and they seem harder to get off the rack...

Keep at it.  I'm sure the next pair will look better... ;-)

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Here is a pair I forged out of 1/2" square.  I only had the tools I carry on my farrier's rig. So I kinda had to McGuiver these. The rivet was a horse shoe, apparently I should have used another shoe to make a bolster, and forged the rivet head before riveting the tongs together... A little over confident I guess. The reins and the bits look decent though. The boss area is sad... Since I was making scrolling tongs I was hesitant to take a normal bite to set the jaws and the boss like I would with a normal flat jawed tongs.  I hate using 1/2"  square too, much prefer 5/8-3/4" round, and a power hammer, or even 3/8" x 1" flat.  I kinda muddled along with only the tools on hand. I had to use my creaser to trim the rivet, and the tongs off the end of the bar.  My normal bosses are much better, really ;-)   The anvil's face is 13 1/2" long for a good idea of scale. But they feel pretty good, and should work fine...


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Thanks SJS. The pic really helps me understand what you mean around the boss area so it can hang on a rack. I'm going to attempt to make the recommended tweaks to this pair, and I will definitely keep your guidance in mind when starting the next. I attempted to do the 4-8-16-round, but I think my screw up may have been trying to do a short section all the way to round then trying to move to the next. It sounds like I should have gone the full length each step. My way things started to twist on me, then I was trying to chase and undo the twist, and it was all sort of a tailspin from there.

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You are always chasing the twist, to be honest. Even when you do each step in order, and yes you should try and break the corners, or chamfer the reins in a long run.  Finishing each step throughly, even if it takes two or three heats to do that process to the entire length of the reins.  If you work in short sections invariably your work gets lumpy when you are starting out, and sometimes after you have been doing it for awhile... ;-)  Take a long heat working the reins back and forthe in the fire, and then chase one corner down the entire length, stopping as needed to straighten the stock, and reheat. Its a good idea to work both sides when you are breaking corners, the hammer will break it down deeper, so to get them to look even, you need to do both sides. Then move to the next conrer and chase it the whole length.  If you have someone to strike for you, you can use a flatter to help smooth things out.  Smaller flatters or set hammers are nice for chamfering work because you can see your work more easily, you just have to be gentle with them.  Weither you are using a hammer, or a flatter you are always working to knock down the high points and clean up the lines.  

Hot rasping can help too.  If you want to hot rasp to clean things up, use an old farrier's rasp, or a big farrier's finish file, or a heavy cut bastard file.  Working hot is hard on your good files, which should be saved for clean cold metal.  Rasps and files are expendable tools, but no sense being abusive...  Get the peice hot, wire brush it good with a big Butcher Block Wire Brush on the anvil where it is supported, then clamp it quickly and start smoothing your work with the rasp.  A Caulking vice, or a farrier's step vice are great for this, a post fice is fine, but a little slower to get engagaged.  You can buy or fabricate a small vice out of a pair of vicegrips, that slips into your hardie hole that is quick for hot rasping.  The thinner the section the harder it is to do, and the more gentle you have to be to not bend it around,,,,  Those scrolling tongs I hot rasped the bits quite a bit;-) and the boss area some, but didn't do anything with the reins, just as forged (so they look just a little lumpy;-)  Like I said a belt grinder can hide a multitude of sins;-)  If you use a bench grinder to strip the scale off, or pickle it in vinegar overnight, you can use some good files to clean up your reins, and everything else really.  To get the most out of your files, it is best to strip the scale off, it dulls the files too quickly... It is much easier to do whitesmithing bench work than hot rasping, the cold metal doesn't bend all over the place, and you can take your time and do a nice job.  Files are easy to use, and do a good job.  They are slower than a power tool, but much safer, for you, and for the piece;-)  Aftre you get it as smooth as you like, you could gently reheat the whole set to a dull red, and then let it normalize, to get a nice rust resistant scale coating on everything, you might wire brush it lightly if your not gentle with the heat...;-)  Lots of things you can do.  But like I said earlier, the smoother, and better you make your tools the more enjoyable they are to use, and the better they work...  Look forward to seeing what you come up with :-)

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