JHCC

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. 

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

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And cut:

2C18BD67-DFB5-4199-908A-B1996AD3F3AA.jpeg

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

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DE8B609B-222C-456E-A88B-C0B44AF5B7BC.jpeg

Ready for forging:

F1992608-FCAC-49DF-B3A7-60ED67A51DF6.jpeg

Flatten both pieces:

BFD4633F-CBA8-4D0A-A005-B8A84B59D84A.jpeg

Shape jaws, punch, and rivet:

B951AD66-460E-4C00-8001-F4167F3B3DC8.jpeg

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

D30637EE-D747-4BE8-9CA6-33415FF8A43D.jpeg

Ta-Da!

8BCD9C54-DA0D-437E-9A06-ADDBCAE8DCB9.jpeg

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DON'T QUENCH THEM WHEN HOT!!!!!!  I've used old bed rails for making Q&D corner chisels for mortise and tenon work in timber.

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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!

                                                                                                                                                   littleblacksmith 

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Observation: I think I'll be drilling the rivet holes on the next pair. Punching through doubled-up thin stock was messy, and I'd rather have a nice clean hole. 

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Just curious here.  Why not heat and fold the angle iron before making the cuts?  I think you could cut all 4 "slots" at the same time with a vise and a clamp to keep the two folded pieces tight to each other.

I love the innovation.  Great idea.

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Definitely going to do that in future. In fact, I think I may flatten a 6 foot length, cut it in quarters,  clamp them together in the vice, and cut all four notches simultaneously. 

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Cool idea for sure. How about folding the reins over again to make them more hand friendly. 

Might just have to try a pair of those. 

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Just now, Daswulf said:

How about folding the reins over again to make them more hand friendly. 

I've thought of that, but I've found them surprisingly comfortable so far. Will modify as necessary.

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cool use of something most people might overlook, I may give these a go at some point!

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I was thinking of a wood insert for the handles to avoid any chance of pinching when working with the closed ends.

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You can't really see in the picture, but the reins splay out very slightly to the sides. Between that and the rounded "spine" of the folded edge, pinching isn't much of an issue.

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I am having all of my friends and relatives digging up their unused bed rails!!!

How cool! Thanks for sharing John!

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Good to have duplicates when made from steels you shouldn't quench---let the hot ones normalize and use the other pair(s)...

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Why not take a lesson from the knife makers and use scales?

Tongs do not usually get THAT hot as to burn the wood.

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

I think I’m gonna have to make myself a couple pairs of those. Did you weld the fold or did you just fold it?

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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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1 minute ago, Smoggy said:

I've welded up ingot molds from bed frame angle, and it takes both the heat cycle and the inevitable pounding without detriment.

That's the information I was looking for!

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Built these over the past few days. Cracked them working them too cold but they welded and reformed just fine. Fitted them to a railroad spike. My angle wasn’t as beefy as JHCC but they still made a nice pair and decently comfy too use. 

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