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I Forge Iron

Video "How to Forge Chain Makers Tongs"


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  • 1 year later...

Nice you're adding to the thread.. Great start on the tongs as well..   The tongs we used in the trailer were these ones.. I have several other types but prefer this model over those for ease of use..  The other ones are more for once the chain is U bent..    

We used 7" of 3/8" for the links..   If you decide you like that length just make the jaw length so when you are holding the straight piece in the jaws it is all ready the right length when you move to the horn.. No measuring or truing up..    Slide the stock into the jaws, heat in the forge, pull out and put the jaw just behind the horn and whack, whack.. Perfect U with both legs the same length.. 

I make different sized links so the tongs we used are general purpose..  

Not sure why I didn't post photo of the tongs earlier..  Over sight I guess.. 






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In your chain video, you’d said 7-1/2”, so I cut up some 3/8” stock to that length. I’ll set up the jaws as you describe for 7”, I think. Easier to compensate for a longer piece than for one that’s shorter. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
43 minutes ago, Francis Trez Cole said:

Nice looking tongs. Why is it that now days people are doing the weld at the rounded end. If you look at the old videos they do it on the side not the rounded part of the link

Real forged chain that was welded by hand is always done on the ends this is the strongest place for the weld to be..  It has to do with how the link is pulled apart in use.. At the very end of the link it has the least amount of movement in the weld seam.. 

A weld on the side of a link is more modern and came into favor with modern machinery and resistance welding on the smaller sizes.. 

The old fashioned ship anchors could be welded on the side or on the end.. The ship anchor had a cross bar that was fitted and this simple little cross bar completely changes the way the chain will deform.. 

Larger links like ship anchors again can use either way.. 

The US navy Aircraft carriers used a 2 piece clamped design..  I had posted a thread on it somewhere.. 

JHCC I love that video..  There are a few of them out there..   Including this one.. :)  Wink, wink.. 


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I probably shouldn't even add this info since it's been beaten to death time and time again..  But.... 

 I don't know if I agree..  And since we are talking opinions..  I think health care had a lot to do with it.. I knew 2 smiths who lived into their late 80's..  and both walked upright and could put their shoes on every morning.. 

I also knew an old farrier who was still shoeing a horse or 2 a day at 87.. Started when he was 14.. 

If you wanna see a tough job and being bent over a farrier is a much better example than a blacksmith.. 

But, I do like the looks of the work style as it reminds me of someone I know.. :)   

There is a huge disconnect between the way things used to be done and how they are done now..     I'm not making this statement as and apples to apples..  And sure the overall majority of people are living longer.. But I knew a bunch of people who were born 1900's 1905 who worked hard everyday of their lives and lived a very long time.. Most never having more than a cold every 5 or so years.. Drinking, cussing, smoking and fighting every friday night..   

I think somewhere along the line someone decided they didn't like the way they felt so should change it for everyone else..    LOL..   

I do best when I stay straight an narrow and don't take anytime off from the farrier work.. 30 year+ and I do more horses today everyday,  then I did back in my 20s

I also do best if I forge everyday.. If I take time off I need to get back into it slowly but within 2 days I'm right as rain and then can work like i never stopped.. 

We talk about ergonomics and why anvil heights are what they are.. But why is it in all the old films they are in fact bent over swinging large movements.. Also why is it when ever they are using a power hammer or the like.. They are bent over again.. 

I still see this today with modern footage of every power hammer I have seen used unless the person is short.. they are in fact bent over.. 

Just saying..      Some would say I am bringing this up as a way to cause trouble.. Or indifference..   It really is that round and round bit.. I had a friend die at 37 from cancer never smoked a day in his life.. My own father passed away at 70 and all 5 of his closest friends he grew up with died before him.. The only one who has lived longer has been in a wheel chair for the last 50 years.. 

I knew a boiler fitter who worked with asbestos everyday.. He would eat it on his sandwiches..   I know it's the breathing thing, but mouth to lungs is a short ride..  He lived to 85 died from a heart attack.. 

So, again with modern medicine and longevity or feeling good living longer might be part of the thing.. But really I don't see it..  

John,   You are way to hard on yourself..  EVen in jest..    5 links  and you had 2 failures in a hammer deformation test..   

I have tested probably 200+..   There comes a point where "One" will know which links will fail and which will be good. ;) Chuckle, chuckle..  There is also a point where that one that you picked out because "YOU KNEW" it was going to fail. laughs at your face...  (What??? )

There also comes a point when you are able to weld 2 pieces of bar stock together at a bright orange heat.. LOL..  And then the very next day even with the MIg welder that just aint gonna happen..     Things just get more consistent..  

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Check why our current retirement age is 65.  It was because when Germany started up their old age pension scheme they calculated that 1/2 of the people would be dead by then.

We all know outliers, I knew Isaac Doss, still smithing in his 80's and Emmert Studebaker still swung a hammer from time to time in his 90's; shoot my landlord finally gave up driving in his 90's. OTOH my great grandfathers mostly died in their 50's  My grandfathers: 60's, 30's (farming accident) and one still around in his 90's  (survived being a Marine on Iwo Jima!)

I read once where the average career length of a farrier was 2 years with injuries being a major factor in people quitting it 'early". I bought my Champion #1 off a farrier in his 60's; he originally didn't want to sell it; but called me back a week later and said "My wife has told me that I have been kicked in the head for the last time and I'm retired!  Come get the hammer!"  (He was still making all his shoes with it.)

The "gold watch" after 20/25 years is well founded in American history for at least the first half of the 20th century.  Me I started my first "real" job 1n 1980 and figure to work till 66.5 if I can---I need the medical benefits!

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A lot of industrial jobs also had pretty horrible life expectancies as well, especially before better safety practices were implemented. For example, the grinders of Sheffield cutlery had an average life expectancy of about 45, as the particles of grit and steel would lead to a condition known locally as "grinder's lung". Women and children who worked in spinning mills often came down with "brown lung" from breathing cotton and wool particles, and miners' "black lung" is well-known too. 

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Thomas..  I can see why that is in the farrier biz..  It is not for the faint of heart...(are they including the long timers or just the newbies most last 2-5 years and are gone) You must be crazy or insane or a little of both..  I had talked with an Amish guy who was a Foundry man..  When I told him I was a farrier.. His eyes brightened and looked right at me and said that is the hardest job in the world and he could not understand what in this God's world would possess someone to do it..   Shuck his head and said " He just didn't get it" crazy fools.. 

Again.. I don't have a clear cut view on demographics across the usa or Industrial England..  There certainly were a bunch of people who were less than healthy because of pollution, bad water, sickness. etc, etc.. But again..  I'm going by my own experiences with the people I had met.. 

JHCC,  They sure did..  Miners, hatters, etc, etc..  When I was really little they were still dumping die agents into the water of the river.. The river would be a different color depending on the day..  

There is a huge factor of logistics based on overall age and ages..   There seemed to be a cut off with infant deaths and then these getting averaged.. 

There were many people who lived well into their 60, 70, 80 and even 90's  even after working for 30-50 years at the same job..   Was is susceptibility? 

I think the concept or reality for some hits harder than for others..    nearly all the farriers that I came up with are still farriers and the ones that are not anymore made one heck of a pay check when they were so are semi/fully retired..  

I don't have a clear cut answer that is right for everybody let along myself..    This is where someone using the common sense and applying it comes in.. 

My point was more or less that today is certainly a different world..   I pushed every essence of my being with the stupid factor border lining insanity.  ( my new excuse is I have been dropped on my head to many times).. 

There is no rhyme or reason though many try to find an answer..  WE know seat belts save lives..    (Saves some more than others)..   We know that sitting at a computer typing effects the arms, wrists, elbows, back.. etc, etc.. so now they have treadmill desks so you can walk while you work and type.. and other arrangements.. 

Basically an answer or so called solution to many problems which leads to other problems (larger/smaller)..  Does this increase the Useful lifespan of a person?    (useful) being the key word.. 

I was not denying  there are presumed better ways..       Awareness today of wanting to feel good or better when done with lifes work I think has played in especially because people are overall living longer..  Again overall.. There are less infant deaths, better health care, knee/hip replacements.. etc, etc.. 

But I think this is also made better, by making others  aware in such places like this forum that as someone goes on their journey that they base a lot of their own pains and bring these to the table of awareness..   

How many people do you know that will say they wish they would have worked differently 20-30 years ago knowing how they feel now.

 Any activity, involving a body it only has so many heart beats. so many steps. so many typing..   For each person it is markedly different.. 

Good friend of mine didn't take on running till his 50's.. Always a fairly skinny guy in decent shape.  but at 50 started runny,,  7 years later has major feet problems because he is past the age of bone mass building like in his earlier days..   Body adaption through use..  Maybe that is part of the code to longevity.. Start young enough there is adaption.. 

Anyhow.. I was just thinking about how interesting it is  to really see the differences in peoples and to see how their lives have dictated the kinds of changes they have.. Masons, blacksmiths, farriers.. Boiler fitters..  Etc, etc..    

Thomas Per capita I'm sure the ratios were much higher than todays in years gone past..  Not doubt. But I used to think it was much higher and for many years I started to go to old cemeteries and read grave stones..  (bunch of old one around here).. and many, many people lived past 80..  Of course there were many more who died before this age, just as there are now..    

I really find I  have to sneak up on everything now. if I want to feel good.  vs gang busters..   

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figures right..    So, what is the secret..   Look at that video of the british blade smith..  

I was so young when I started I had no concept of anything..  the blower I have now was used by a smith that when I was 14 he came for a visit.. I never really knew the man but knew his Son (Moms and Dads were friends) and it's how i ended up with the blower..   He came for a quick visit.. Literally a walk in, a walk around and then left..     I had no concept of asking him for help as it never occurred to me who he really was until year and years later..  He was about 75 then.. 

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