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Material for making tongs


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I'm relatively new to blacksmithing and bladesmithing (I'm also a college student strapped for both time and cash, lol!), but I recently got about 20' of 3/4" mild steel square stock and wanted to start making my own tongs so I can get rid of the Harbor Freight mechanic's needlenose pliers I've been using (they're good, but I want better <shrug>).

My question is, do I have good enough material to make decent tongs, or should I look for better material? Also, any suggestions or tips on methods for making the aforementioned tongs would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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That 3/4" stock is fine for making tongs out of, though as a beginner you will likely be battling quite a bit to draw out the reins.  There are dozens of tong making videos online these days.  Brian Brazeal has a very good one for shaping jaws out of that stock crossection, and I think Mark Aspery does as well.  If you have access to a welder you may want to consider forging out the jaws and welding on some 3/8" round handles, at least at first.  Once you get a few pair made you may want to switch over to scarf welding on the reins, but that is a pretty tough forge weld for a beginner. 

For most beginners the bulk of the tong flaws are in the neighborhood of the boss (where the tongs get riveted together).  Invariably these are made too thin, or having sharp transitions that lead to the jaws or reins breaking off in use.  There are some good blueprints on the anvilfire site, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some here as well, though the blueprint section here is not particularly user friendly to access.

Good luck and ask more questions as you progress.

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I know a lot of books recommend using square stock for tongs but I almost always use round, as did both of the blacksmith shops in the 2 larger steel mills here in town.  It is easier to avoid cold shuts in round and 3/4" round is easier to draw out than 3/4" square.  3/4" round is plenty big to make tongs for holding stock for 1" and under.  5/8" round actually can make nice tongs as long as you offset them before flattening them and  punch the eyes.    I like 1045 for tongs but mild steel is good especially when you are starting out.

Watch this video and ignore the jig and the fact he is using a power hammer.  Offsetting the stock before flattening  like he does allows you to use slightly smaller stock.   Working by hand this could be done with a bending fork,  or 2 blocks of steel and a flatter(or large piece of heavy flat bar) or 2 pieces of steel and a vise. 


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With 3/4 square stock you only need about 8-10 inches of material (4 inches for each side) to make a nice set of tongs since you will be drawing out the reins.  You should be able to make a couple pairs with that material.

I had a tong-making class with Mark Aspery not to long ago.  We used 3/4 square stock to make tongs for the ABANA convention in Salk Lake City.  We would mark off 4 inches on the bars and forge one half, cut it off and start another half.  It was pretty simple to get 10- 12 inch reins from just 2 1/2 inches of 3/4 stock.

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I like 1045 myself. But when you start out it is great to use mild steel. There is a great video by Toby Hickman about calculating out stock I personally like a  set of tongs 16".-20" so I start out with 3" for the Jaw,Boss and transition I and 5 inches for the reins. so 16" total for one set of tongs. If I end up with extra I cut it off and use it for a rivet. Happy hammering look forward to seeing your tongs 

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