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AaronIronandSteel

What tongs should I buy

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Depends on what you're going to be making. The size of material? I find wolf jaw tongs pretty handy. They make them in different sizes as well. There's a lot of different kinds of tongs. You'll need to be a bit more specific 

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There are No All purpose tongs. There are some that you can get by with a few sizes/ shapes of material but no one size fits all. 

Like Mark asked, what size stock do you plan on making what with? 

You can reshape steel tongs a bit in the forge to work different material but I wouldn't advise doing it too much or often. 

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Buy the tongs that work with the stock you have in hand.  Wolf jaw tongs are considered excellent all-around tongs but I don’t own any.  Whatever tongs you get will become the template for your future attempts at tong making...so get something “mainstream” that you can copy in different sizes later on.

My personal opinion is that tongs are the most important part of the kit for a starting smith.  Holding the steel with control will get you better a lot more than a super anvil will.  

Good luck,

Lou

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You may be able to avoid the use of tongs, altogether, to start with. Long pieces of steel can be held by hand. That way you can concentrate on hammer control. Concentrating on hammer technique AND tong handling is a very difficult combination at first. Learn one then the other.

If necessary, you can weld a handle onto a piece of preferred steel, use it and then cut the welded-on "handle" off when the forging is done.

Fortunately steel does not transfer heat very quickly. You can hold onto the cold end of a hot forged piece if the handle is long enough.

SLAG.

Where are you located?

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Also if the handle starts to get hot you can quench it in water to cool it off.

BTW: welcome to IFI Fuzzy if you edit your profile to show your location, you may be surprised how many members are near you and some answers are location dependent.

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There are no universal tongs. Except for the late Grant Sarver's Off Center Products Universal Tongs, that is. Don't know if anybody still carries them. I love mine.

universal tongs OC.jpeg

Of course, universal wolf jaws would be the next closest thing.

 

universal wolf jaw tongs 3 inch.gif

If I can only take a few items to a demo, those are my two favorites, and will handle 99% of what I do.

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On 12/17/2017 at 10:30 PM, Fuzzy K said:

What kind of tongs would you recommend for just all purpose tongs

Electric weld or fire weld an extension to the existing stock. Long stock many times eliminates the need for tongs.  Flat bar works very well as it is easier to manipulate than round stock. Or leave the stock long until you need to cut it to length.

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Nothing beats the proper size and shape tongs for the stock your trying to hold. Add a tong clip to the tongs and be happy.

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Good Morning Fuzzy,

Welcome to our world.

We are not trying to pry into your life, but, if you add your location to your Avatar, we will know how to answer you.

There is no such thing as a perfect set of Tongs. The universal Tongs that John has, were made by Grant Sarver, Off Center Products. Kayne and Sons are now making his tools, after Grant died suddenly. Kayne and Sons is 'the Blacksmith Depot'. They have a large selection, Look through their web-site and make a choice. If you are using 1/2" material, 3/8" Tongs will work on 1/2" material and smaller. There is no one answer. The v-bit Tongs will work on round, square and flat material.

Neil

 

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Maybe you should hold off on the knife making and focus on making yourself a small variety of tongs? I don't make knives so I don't know all the processes involved but I do know they're flat and so I assume there's a point in the process where you need to hold a flattened area vertically on edge whilst also forging it on edge?

Forging flat stock on edge without the right tongs is dangerous as it can flip up at your face. IMO flat stock is the the shape that least lends itself to universal tongs and you do really need a variety to suit the width of the flat area you're holding.

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I agree on both matters. The first thing I learned when I was making knives is that the right tongs are crucial. There's nothing worse than having a glowing hot piece of metal flying 6+ feet up in the air. I've found that Box Jaw tongs are the tool for the job when it comes to holding thin knife blades since the piece cannot escape from the sides. I make a Y shape by upsetting the bar for the tong for about 1 1/2" then split it down the end, to make something more like claws in a T shape than the traditional shovel shape. I found that the corners of the shovel shape were always tearing and didn't have enough meat for heavy forging 7/8" x 1/2" O1 flat stock that I use.

Rather than buying the tongs for $50-60 + shipping, the OP could get $20 worth of mild steel, (or salvage it from a scrap yard), and make 10 pairs of tongs. My first projects were making tongs and I'm always wanting more and more of them. The best part about being a smith is that you can make your own tools, with only an anvil, hammer and fire.

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If I had to buy just one pair of tongs it would be to handle square stock (V -bit).  Square can hold round stock as well.  Keep in mind, there is a person who sells quick tong kits out there that are by far much cheaper than buying a finished pair.  He cuts the shape out of square stock so all you have to do is heat it, bend it and make it into what you want / draw out the reins.  I'm not advertising for this guy, but I made a pair of scrolling tongs from his kit and it turned out much better than if I'd tried to do the whole thing myself.  This short cut doesn't teach you the offset skills you need to know to make your own from scratch, but it sounds to me you just need a few pairs to get going. 

Otherwise, I echo the thoughts of others in that you will need a lot of tongs for different sizes to hold your stock tight.

 

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Winegums; there is something worse than your hot steel flying 6' up in the air---it is it flying 6' laterally  when you are standing 3' away in that flight path...

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Agreed, If you can't hold the piece solid and keep it in control, Don't forge. You can't do good work when your piece is moving around or threatening to slip out of the tongs.

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On 1/11/2018 at 2:43 AM, Winegums said:

The best part about being a smith is that you can make your own tools, with only an anvil, hammer and fire.

For the sake of conversation, i'm going to second (or third) this comment. Not only is it a great learning experience, but there's also something satisfying using tools you've made.

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Tongs are a hard learning project for a beginner.  Offsets, drawing out, and lots of hammer control are needed to be successful.  I'd have to disagree with it being a great first project.  Maybe a 20th project after mastering some S & J hooks, chisels, punches and such.  Heck even buying some farrier nippers, heating and straightening out the jaws would be easier than starting from scratch.  I see them all the time at antique shops for cheap.  You can do anything with shaping the jaws to conform to what you need.  

I will agree that there is something satisfying about using tools you've made.  Hey that's what this forging thing is all about.  Lots of mechanics that wish they could make the tools they need to work with instead of owing Snap-On a lot of money.  

Check out that guy who makes the kits if you really want to make your own.  I just saw a bundle set on E-bay for $43.00.  You get something like four tong kits for that price.  I used his kit to make the scroll tongs and I still have the satisfaction of using a tool I made.

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I learned a lot trying to forge tongs to be honest, and looking back on it every failure was a lesson. Drawing out, offsetting, upsetting, punching/slitting, measuring, rounding, etc. It really got me familiar with all the basic operations of smithing. I learn by doing and found that I couldn't forge efficiently with pliers and vise grips. I knew that I needed tongs and when I looked at the price of them it was too much for my liking. Tongs were the first real tool I ever made and have since used my smithing to make custom wood working tools for myself as well. Maybe I'm an anomaly? I love making tools, maybe more than making things with the tools.

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Winegums: I agree with you. My first project was my tongs and it was ideal for me. It took me way longer than it should have, but I learned a whole lot from it. I would say it's a perfect starting project

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If your buying 1 pair, I would go with wolf jaw tongs. Still my main go to tongs if I am not using a specific set made for a specific job.

If your going to be mainly knife making, when you get setup, aspire to make a set of box jaw tongs to fit your main stock size. when you get a little better, there are specific designs for wrap around tip blade tongs, give it a go. (Box jaw are limited in the stock they hold, the blade makers tongs are fairly universal in stock size they can grip)

 

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As someone who just got hit in the cheek by a bright orange piece of 3/8" leaf spring, I agree to NOT use wolf's jaw for bar stock.  I am heading to CentaurForge tomorrow to get some box jaws.  I have a nice right angle burn mark on my cheek as a reminder of that stupid move.

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Sorry to hear that Paul. Yes the right tongs for the job make all the difference. And compared to the injury are inexpensive. Heal up quickly. Sorry you had that misfortune. 

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