Ranchmanben

Tong obsession

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I'm new here but I thought I'd show my tong progression for some of the other folks who are starting out making tongs. More often than not I find my self working on tongs than anything I could potentially make money on.

 

These were not my first try. I was so angry at all the earlier tries that they ended up in the trash. This was the first pair I riveted together and deemed usable.  Made from 3/4" sucker rod and 3/8" round  

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This was my first attempt at building a farrier style tongs. Not exactly what I had in mind but still a set of tongs that can be used. Not shown is the opposite side where a valuable lesson was learned, don't quench sucker rod with any sort of color!

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Started making some progress here. These are some 1/2" bolt tongs in the works and finished. It took me a lot of tinkering and making a lot of scrap to start getting that shoulder right between the boss and the rein. Made from 3/8"x 1"

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That last pair made me realize I need some tongs to make tongs. 3/8"x 1"

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Scrolling tongs

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Sometimes you get distracted and your tong disappears.

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These are a recent endeavor I've been working on copying from Robb Gunter. A friend lent me a pair of G3 built tongs and I decided I had to copy them. Needless to say, mine aren't near as nice as the originals. A few weeks ago I was traveling down I 40 near Albuquerque and thought it try to get ahold of Robb to see if I could get some pointers on these since I happened to have them in the bed of my truck still. Not only did I get ahold of him but he invited me to his house where he deemed my tongs perfectly acceptable but gave me some aluminum templates for building the originals. I haven't had a chance to use the templates yet but I have been working on adapting his design with the farrier design and adding the shoulder. 1/4"X1"

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This is one of my most recent sets. I've been using these as pickup tongs and hammer eye tongs for making smaller wood handled tools like hot cuts, handled center punches and hammer eye punches. 3/8"X1"

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NEVER TRASH THEM  use them as infill for a shop gate or shop window grill---some creative arc welding and you've got a winner!

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That's a great progression. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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Thanks fellas. Jlp, which style are you talking about?

I'm guess you are talking about the style with the shoulder by the boss. There is a very particular reason reason I'm building that style, I like the way it looks. I guess it's a little more involved process but like I said, I think it looks sharp and sets them apart from all the "normal" blacksmith tongs. Right now I'm using mild steel although I've been tinkering with some sucker rod. Once I'm comfortable enough building these I'd like to start using a higher carbon steel and start streamlining them some. 

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I highly recommend using a medium carbon steel for the hammer eye tongs and scrolling tongs. With the amount of work, force, and stress they have to put up to it is helpful to have them made from a tougher material, just so they last longer. "take some time to save some time"

                                                                                                                        Littleblacksmith                                                                                        

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Ben, you are making some very nice looking tongs.  Your progression from the beginning to now is wonderful.  I really like the shoulder on the boss, but darn it, I'm too lazy to go to that trouble...maybe later when I have spurt of creativeness.  I have noticed that a lot of the competition farriers use that design, like Craig Trnka (sp?).  You must do a lot of farrier work.

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Arkie, thank you very much! There are many more failures than I've shown. I'm trying to blend the farrier style tong with a more blacksmith oriented tong. There's not a whole lot of call for a bolt tong in the farrier world. I think the main reason most professional/competition farriers use tongs of that style is that most all of the best tongs have them, flatland forge, Jim Keith and so on. Anymore is sort of rare to find fire tongs without it. Craig Trnka is an awesome farrier and a great guy. He's as precise with each hammer blow as a surgeon with a scalpel. As far as me shoein horses, I only shoe my own and those of the ranch I work on. I do six a month during the busy times like now and run most of them rough shod the rest of the year. Shoeing horses is not something I like to do but I like to pay someone else to do work that I can do even less. 

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I think maybe Jay Sharp got the modern farriers headed in the direction of the shoulder on their tongs, I think he was a following champion tool designs.

They do look nice and I think you are really doing a great job Ben.

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Thanks Mangler. I talked to Jay's son a few weeks ago and said that another guy actually started putting that shoulder on the tongs but Jay is the one who popularized it. 

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15 hours ago, metalmangeler said:

I bet Jay's son knows a lot more about it than I ever will.

I had thought the same thing as you until I talked to him. He had quite a selection of tools Jay had made include a full set of working mini farrier tools and a couple pairs of mini nippers and rounding hammers made from Damascus. 

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A friend, who's an experienced smith, came out today and wanted me to show him how I build my tongs. We struck for each other and that was a learning experience. Next time I think we'll work much better together and the end result will be better. We had a great time and ended up with a useable pair of tongs. 

 

1/4" bolt tongs

 

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Your last ones are really good looking but why the shoulder? I mean is there a purpouse beside the good looks? 

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2 hours ago, gote said:

Your last ones are really good looking but why the shoulder? I mean is there a purpouse beside the good looks? 

No purpose that I know of. 

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19 hours ago, metalmangeler said:

I think the purpose is that stylized tools sell better. This is a legitimet purpose if you are selling tools.

You're right there. At some point I'd like to start selling these and if I had to choose  between a plain tool and a slightly embeshished tool that does the same thing just as well or better, I'd go for the fancier as long as it's not cost prohibitive. When building them, it does add a extra couple of step but when they're finish I can say they work as well as any and look better than most. 

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Considering how you are doing I would expect you will be able to sell your tongs, you will need to be able to make them quickly if you hope to make money. Farriers will pay more than blacksmiths as a rule. They really like shiny I would let the looks of the tools speak for itself. I have not worked on making these type tongs, but I think you should be able to make a double fuller tool with a stop that you could use under a power hammer really should not add much if any time to making a pair of tongs. One of the things I have heard over the years is that some of the people making tongs for farriers started out making them from higher carbon steels then later went to lower because the buyers tended to cool over heated tools in water then break them, it is unfortunate as better steel can be used for lighter tongs.

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7 hours ago, metalmangeler said:

Considering how you are doing I would expect you will be able to sell your tongs, you will need to be able to make them quickly if you hope to make money. Farriers will pay more than blacksmiths as a rule. They really like shiny I would let the looks of the tools speak for itself. I have not worked on making these type tongs, but I think you should be able to make a double fuller tool with a stop that you could use under a power hammer really should not add much if any time to making a pair of tongs. One of the things I have heard over the years is that some of the people making tongs for farriers started out making them from higher carbon steels then later went to lower because the buyers tended to cool over heated tools in water then break them, it is unfortunate as better steel can be used for lighter tongs.

Thank you. The double fuller is a mighty good idea but until I get a power hammer I'm stuck doing it the less efficient way. I agree that farriers will pay more but like you said, they aren't always the best at taking care of their tools. I get to chance to talk to Jim Keith every so often and he pretty much said the same thing as you about farriers quenching their tongs too hot. Luckily, I've got a pretty a decent job that I like so I won't have to rely on tong building for my supper and can keep building them as I'd like.

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I think experinced farriers should be able to handle good tongs ok. One thing to remember is that maybe 90% of the farriers who go to school are not shoeing as a job 5 years later, so when you are selling tools to farriers a significant portion of your sales are likely to people with limited skills. You could offer 2 lines light ones that require good care and another of forgiving ones, or if you get a chance look at a pair of Dennis Manning's farrier tongs, I think they are made of mild steel, but are very well thought out regarding stress areas the ones I have seen were really light and long lasting.

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Two different lines, mild and medium carbon steel, is a solid idea. I tried to find pictures of Dennis Manning tongs but had no luck. 

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