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I Forge Iron

Bolt tongs from bed frames


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Some months back, I came into possession of a couple of bed frames. It’s basically 1-1/4” angle iron with 3/32” thick sides. Sparks like high carbon. 

An idea came into my mind for making some bolt tongs, and today — after thinking through a few issues — I finally gave it a try. Here’s the process.

Cut two 18” long pieces. 


Mark both sides of one end of each for a long notch, with dimensions as shown:


And cut:


Clamp both pieces back-to-back in the vise (spacer blocks come in handy) and clean up the notches:



Ready for forging:


Flatten both pieces:


Shape jaws, punch, and rivet:


Heat the tips of the jaws, clamp in vise, spread with a chisel, and match to your stock (in this case, a RR spike):




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I had made a pair of hammer making tongs from coil spring, and I knew not to quench them, but because all I had ever used was mild steel I once forgot and quenched them, and ended up with alot of cracks in the tongs. since then I have made a new pair and have not quenched them!


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Just folded. The sections for the bits and bosses also got gone over with the flatter; I think if I process a lot of stock at once for a few pairs, I'll flatter the whole thing.

3 minutes ago, Michael Cochran said:

Some curly apple scales would look pretty good on those tongs.

I've still got plenty, but I'm not wasting it on rough-and-ready tongs!

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The only thing that would worry me about that (and this is more my own ignorance than anything else) would be the risk of the HC bed rail cracking if the welding weren't done with the appropriate pre- and post-heating. The last thing you want is your tongs coming apart while you're hammering on a workpiece. I'm no welder, though, so I hope someone with more experience with that can offer some advice.

Otherwise, this whole idea is about making use of what you have on hand, so I guess it's worth a try. If you use the dimensions given above, you'll need about 7" to allow for the bits and bosses, with a little left over as a base for welding the reins.

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I have to say I do like the concept and the process,  if I were going to weld reins on I would opt for thin diameter heavey wall tube if available. I see no problem arc welding reins onto the tongs. I've welded up ingot molds from bed frame angle, and it takes both the heat cycle and the inevitable pounding without detriment. I can also imagine this design lending quite well to bolt and offset tongs.

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