ryancrowe92

Hand forged tongs from rebar

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Ok I have three peices of rebar that I can make a set of tongs out of and I'm mostly going to be using them for knives and bar stock so I need help on how to make them by hand and what jaw shape I need

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Rebar is really poor stock except for some limited uses, say log pins, tent stakes, fire pit grates, reinforcing concrete, etc. While you CAN make tongs from them it's just too much work. You'll have to forge or grind all the concrete gripping texture off, forge flats for the bolster and depending on the tongs you want the bits, then forge the handles down. It might LOOK like rebar would be easy to hold, heck it doesn't feel bad in your hand but try working even a couple hours keeping two pieces in a tight grip hurts.

It's even worse for knives, rebar is salvaged scrap steel and the performance spec tolerances are very wide. For the most part if rebar has a minimum tensile strength it meets specs. This means it varies a LOT even within one bar sometimes it can change from mild steel to tool steel within inches. It takes knowledge and experience evaluating salvaged steel to determine what you're working with at the time. 

Rebar is a terrible material for a new guy to try to learn with. Just buy a stick of A-36 or mild steel from the steel yard and buy knife steels from one of the several companies that sell and ship online. There are links to the companies in the supplier subsection of the knife making sections of Iforge.

I offer you the benefit of learning from MY mistakes so you don't have to put in all the hours to make the failed projects I have. Oh and blisters, rebar makes a LOT of blisters. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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As much as I respect your opinion on that rebar is probably going to be the worst thing working wise I just don't have the money for actual tongs so that's what I got and what I got to use whether I like it or not because channel locks don't work good for tongs also that was close to what I was looking for but the jaws weren't right for me and it had no measurements and I have no way right now to aquire new scrap other than what I have for lack of transport i mean I have my permit but getting someone to go with me is hard I'm trying to find a way to get some more scrap but with what I got now I should be able to make do.

 

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So using *free* material that is actually GOOD for making blades is not an option?  I feel so sorry for you.

Automotive coil springs are made from a steel that makes decent knives and your local shadetree mechanic should be able to gift you with some. I buy mine from a local scrap yard for 20 cents a pound---ever weigh a knife?  (actually my mechanic will give me them but it's farther to go into town to the mechanic than to drive to the scrapyard and so cheaper in time and gas just to buy them...especially as I'm not usually in the USA during working hours...) Note this is a scrapyard and NOT an auto salvage place that wants higher prices for repair parts.

Springs also make superior tongs but there is a lot more work in forging them.  

Make some tent stakes or snakes from the rebar and sell them and buy good steel; life's too short to waste time on forging rebar!  AND DON'T USE IT FOR KNIVES!

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As much as I would like to go buy a peice of A36 or O1 I don't have a way to get their it's just getting someone to go with me.and the fact school just started today so I have less time on my favorite hobby

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Do you drive? There is a wealth of usable scrap laying in ditches and fields everywhere human beings go, even in cities. I don't usually recommend coil spring for learning with but it beats rebar all to . . . You can ask in auto shops for old springs that have been replaced, the prime shops are the ones doing custom work on vehicles lifts and lowering a vehicle means replacing the springs and you can't put used on another vehicle if you're a licensed and bonded auto shop.

Coil spring, especially what you find as broken ditch diver debris has it's own problems but nothing compared to wasting your time on rebar. I see Thomas and I are synced again he just saved me some writing. 

Make cool useful things and sell  them. It's beneficial to you in a couple ways, it gives you hammer time to build your skills, it'll put some money in your pocket so you won't have to use loser material. 

Please don't feel defensive, we're not taking shots at you. We've all had to start somewhere, we all dealt with urban myth and common knowledge that is WAY wrong. We've all done this on the down low, making things with nothing but what you can find on the spot is sort of a hobby blacksmith's other hobby. 

Don't get in a hurry, I see you just started another school year. It's like being an adult and on your own, school is your paycheck job. Think most of us haven't had to squeeze smithing in after work, on weekends, etc. WHEN we didn't have other things that just HAD to be done? This is the real world, it keeps getting in the way of what you want to do. Welcome to reality.

Just don't get in a hurry, all it's good for is making mistakes permanent faster. I can give you a list of how much rushing has cost me, time  money and scars. The craft takes time to learn anyway and finding GOOD steel is easy but you have to work for it. 

Target coil spring with wire about 1/2" +/- for tools, tongs punches, chisels, knives, etc. By wire that's the round stock coil spring is made with. 

What EVER you do do NOT go into any endeavor saying I can't. I can't afford, I can't get, I can't . . . , is just talking yourself into not being able to. "Whether you say that you can, or you say that you can't. You're right." Henry Ford.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well I'd suggest asking around at school---but I expect they wouldn't like people dragging in old coil springs (and may not work if you are home schooled...)

One of my first places to start asking around is after church---I was once given a swedish anvil that way. Which may not work if you are not a church goer...

So do you have any activities where you meet people face to face and not on the internet?  If so ask around!  Don't pre-decide who to speak to. The last anvil I tracked down belonged to a lady in her 90's; never would have found it if I only talked with people my own age and gender.

I took an old rusty UNPLATED wrench and forged a bottle opener for a local mechanic and he offered me free access to his scrap pile; pity he's not open on weekends when I'm in town...

Start think of ways you can instead of whys you can't.  Need transportation?  Negotiate for it!   Find a forging buddy with transportation. 

 

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Tell until my upcoming birthday I won't be able to drive and I live with my grandparents and they don't feel like getting out I have my permit but I gotta have someone with me and I just started junior year. And I don't get how school is my paycheck job because I don't get paid to go to school but this Payday I'm gonna get some stuff because my brother is carless and left my new tank of oxygen on and $37 down the drain and $59 for a new torch. I had to get more welding wire and that is where last weeks pay went I wanna do blacksmithing because I like it I like playing with fire. And all the scrap I have right now is angle iron and lawnmower blades I got from a friend

It's time to go home in 9 minutes.

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Look at the difference having a diploma vs not having a diploma makes in lifetime earnings.  The studies are out there!  Not lifetime but the US government one:

https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

so $188 per week, 52 weeks a year:  a  highschool diploma gets you around $9776 dollars a year *extra* for the rest of your working life; or for 40 years of work $391000.

Do you see why we might consider it your "job" right now?

Brothers can definitely be a pain and a cost; but having someone to hold while you hit can be a help too.  Get him to work off his debt to you!

And many of us smiths got into it because we like playing with fire!

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Go ahead with the tongs out of rebar until you can get better stock to make them out of. You got some places to look. Also look up some of Technicus Joes videos on YouTube. He has some good tutorials on making tongs. The rrspike flat jaw tongs I made from his tutorial are one of my most used. Sure you will work harder and longer without using better materials to start but if it gets you started and moving forward then it's a good thing. Just know that there Are way better materials to use for projects. 

I forged a pair of tongs out of rebar on a chunk of granite using a junky 1lb ball pein hammer just to see if I could. I sure didn't waste more time drawing out the reins but I was able to make a functional pair of flat jaw tongs. I doubt I could have done it without the knowledge of how to make them tho. It sure wasn't the best use of my time and not great materials to use but I did learn from it. And it is way easier with better materials. 

 Get working and learning.  check out those links and continue your research from there. Thomas and Frosty are trying to help you get thinking of easier/ better ways to go about it but If that's all you have right now and you want to try it go for it. Just be safe doing so. 

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My very first pair of tong I made were from 1/2 rebar.  I made some very basic flat bit tongs and drilled the hole for the pin and used a 1/4 bolt and peened it over for a pin.  Don't ever quench them in water though or they may break.  I didn't forge the handles at all. I used them all the time and found them much better than my old pliers I had.  Eventually I made more tongs out of better steel.  But those are still kicking around and functional.  

I made a nice fire poker from rebar.  I have some I will make some coat hangers from. I saw some nice tongs made from 3/4 rebar.  

If that's all you got, hammer away.  Stick with something simple though, like flat bit tongs.  Don't hammer the boss to thin and don't hammer the reins thin either.  

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Some times learning the hard way is the only way to understand.  I too have made tongs from rebar.  No fun. But I learned from the expirence.   What type of forge are you using? What fuel? Anvil? We love pic's.   I bet there are other smiths in your area that could help you out with finding free stock in your area ,may even have some tongs you could use/have.  Maybe call one of these smithy's and they can get you in touch with a smith close to you. Heck could have one in your neighborhood

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Maybe here

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7 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Make some tent stakes or snakes from the rebar and sell them and buy good steel; life's too short to waste time on forging rebar!

speaking of snails.....here is one I made, they sell really stinkin easy to the right people. What about if you forged some snails and snakes, sold them, (you could even sell them online), and use that money to pay for your expenses, then buy some usable steel and make tongs. Or just have your brother ask around and see if anybody would like to buy them from you. Also, you don't have to make money from blacksmithing to use the money on blacksmithing.... anybody in about a 8 mile radiuse (walking distance, though depending on how determine you are could be further) that needs something done? trees trimmed, wood split, yard mowed, weeds pulled, maybe someone is going out of town and needs some one to watch there dogs? just think outside the box. money is everywhere. I have even once walked down roads picking up tire weights to scrap for money. I DO NOT recommend this, as all it takes is one drunk driver and your dead, but am just saying that small things add up, and that there is money out there!

                                                                                                                                 Littleblacksmith

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I would also recommend Brian Brazeal's youtube video for tong making. Very good instruction regardless of the type of bar you use. Practice making the working end a couple times to get that process down before you go all out drawing the reins down. From my own experience, you probably want 5/8" or larger size to make decent tongs for general use.

As has been said many times already, rebar is not the best material to work with, but use what you have until you can get something better. Just don't expect to make a sword from a piece of rebar.

Another option once you get a little cash flow is to buy tong kits, essentially tong shape burnouts that you finish and assemble. You can get these for around $12-15 a set from multiple sources.

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To throw a wrench in the discussion, many of the folks badmouthing rebar will also recommend A36 as "good mild steel. They both suffer from the same issues, they are made to an engineering specification and not generally to a steel formula. Some rebar acualy will make exeptable hot work tools, but it's all mystery metal. 

I keep an eye out for mud flap hangers. They are square pieces of spring stock.  

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Well I'm going to hopefully try to forge the tongs this weekend if it all goes right but it's been raining a lot the past few days and as a side project I've been working on another forge that's gonna be a side shaft instead of a vertical one. I got to get a new torch, a bag of charcoal, and a few other things and my truck has been out of commission for a few days so I have to fix it. and yes it means I won't be getting any tanks soon also I'm looking for a place to get new steel. 

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you may want to look at ways of making your own charcoal to save time and expense.  You can actually use the hot coals from a wood fire by directly transferring them to the forge.  I have a raised firepit and make a "cooking fire" in it and then mine it for forge fuel...

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Actually I have a way and plenty of wood to do it but the fure barrel that I used to cook the wood down in has gotten wet inside because the tarp came off so I'm just gonna get a bag if I can and the fire is harder to start if I do it like that 

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Rebar bottle openers are an easy practice piece that (a) you can sell or trade for favors or material and (b) don't require tongs to make. Just take a two-foot (or longer) piece of rebar, slit and drift the hole, shape the ring, punch the tab, and cut off the parent stock. Make some more. Sell 'em to your friends at school for five bucks each. If you sell four, that's enough to get you a tong kit from Ken's Custom Iron (you'll need to do some shaping and riveting, but it's a lot easier than making them from scratch).

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Just making suggestions Ryan and I can get carried away. Please don't take it personally, I'm pullin for you. You can to an awful lot without tongs and you'll be surprised how well some simple projects sell. The videos suggested are good and very good how to videos.

Go for it, we're with you.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Angle iron can also make sellable/tradable things like garden trowels, and such. 

I second Thommas on the school thing. Even the Marines won't take you with out a deplorable these days. 

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I have a bull pin that running it down till the stamped logo is just over the workpiece is a good size for the circle on a bottle opener---save a lot of trial and error once you get it dialed in.

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Status update: I got one of the pieces of rebar shaped like I needed it but crazy thing happened I was hammering at the rebar and it was level on the anvil when I was striking but it started to bend on me. Any solutions

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Lay it on the anvil bend up and flatten it. This is not an uncommon accurance. Sometimes you are thinning one edge and that makes one side longer than the other (inducing a curve) or its just an unhappy combination of  stresses in the steel. Just take the opertunity as you drop to high red to straiten and planish out any errant hammer marks.

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