picker77

Another "first tongs" post

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First tongs, and my first actually useful project. Disclaimer: I started with water-cut rein blanks from Kens' Custom Iron,  but at least I shaped the business end. Holds 1 to 1-1/2" 1/8 or 3/16 flat stock, up to 1/2" square bar, plus maybe a few more general purpose things. The new forge works great. This pair took me nearly two hours, and I realize a real blacksmith would have made them in 12 minutes. But everybody starts somewhere. :)

 

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They look good. I've been considering getting a pair. They sell the "bundle" for the price of one set of tongs. How do you like em so far? They're the larger size right? I can never keep straight which size they call what. They should just call them all rapid or quick and denote the size.

Did you punch or drill the hole for the rivet?

Pnut

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Hi, pnut. This pair is the "Rapid" version, from 5/16" steel. It was actually the "Rapid Knife Tong" at $13, but I already owned a good set of knife tongs, so made them a bit "fat" to fit other stock. The "Quick" versions are heavier, I believe cut from 3/8" stock. I think that's the only difference. These came very cleanly cut, and were easy to finish. They are cut from plate stock, though, so it helps to clean up the square edges on a belt grinder, which makes them more comfortable to use that way. These feel really nice in the hand after a couple of minutes on the belt grinder. The other day I ordered one of his "Rapid" 5-tong bundles (all 5/16") for $50 you mentioned, and those arrived this morning as I was finishing this one up. They look every bit as well made as these. I like the 5/16" versions because as a beginner I don't work much with heavy stock, at least not yet. I don't know why somebody would pay $40 a set for simple tongs, when these are a snap to finish yourself. My knife tongs are much heavier (forged from 1/2" round stock). They are great and very high quality, but I can certainly feel the difference in my old left wrist when using them.

I drilled the 1/4" rivet hole on a drill press. I can definitely recommend Ken's stuff, it's very well made, his prices are good, and his shop is very quick to ship. He even provides useful video and paper instructions for guys like me.  :) Plus, I like to buy from a real blacksmith shop, and Ken is the real deal.

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My wife has made several of Kens tongs and she draws the reigns out round. Gives her a little more length which is nice to keep the hand holding them farther from the dragons breath of her propane forge.

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I've watched the videos and even downloaded the PDF instructions to see what went into finishing them up to use I just haven't pulled the trigger. I try to wait a while before buying things or I'd be broke all the time. I guess I'm kinda like a magpie. Every shiny thing that catches my eye I want. 

Pnut

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It feels good to make something ýou can use doesnt it Picker? Good job. Don't get too caught up in worrying about how long it takes you to make something. That saps the fun right out of it. Even the best of Smith's had to start somewhere. You'll get more efficient as you go. Focus on building skill and don't worry about the time so much. Enjoy the ride:D

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A well taken point, IFC! The five more that I'm getting ready to do will all be made that way. I might even yet draw out the ends of the reins on these a bit, but it's clearly smarter to do that before riveting, ha.

Pnut, I'd be a lot of $ ahead if I did that. It's just toooo easy to reach for the old plastic sometimes. :)

And thanks, CGL - it does feel good to actually make something that is going to get used instead of looked at and thrown in the "also-ran" pile. Not that worried about speed, I'm like a baby goose, since I'm starting from ground zero, every time I blink it's a whole new world with this stuff, lol.

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Those look as if they'll do a good job for you, Picker.  It's up to you, but I think you'll find you want to pull the reins out in the future.  Gets mighty hot up close to that forge. :o 

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It truly is. I just used to worry about how long it would take me to do something until it it occurred to me that it didn't really matter. I felt sort of inferior. So I quit that way of thinking and it was so much more enjoyable. And now, my times have drastically been reduced with a better end result. I suppose if I were in production, that'd be a different story. But I am glad you aren't too concerned about speed. It will be so much more enjoyable that way.  I think your off to a wonderful start

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Chris, with all due respect to traditional blacksmithing, as painfully slow as I am at drawing out things I might "pull out" those reins by MIG'ing on a few inches of 5/16 round. 2 minutes vs 2 hours (or probably more, in my case).  :ph34r:

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I'm not sure which one of us is further along in learning this blacksmithing stuff, Picker, but speaking for myself, "painfully slow" gets a little less painful and slow as I keep practicing.

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Yep, a person always gets faster and more efficient after doing something repeatedly. Of course, we each have our own built-in pace. Mine is slower than most, and as far as I know none of this is a contest, lol. That's why I have no interest in selling knives, in spite of a few offers from folks who've seen some of them. Instead, I've given most of them away. If I were to start selling them, then suddenly making knives wouldn't be a pastime or hobby any more, it would be a job, with all the peripheral crap that entails. And I couldn't work on a knife for a week or two any more, I'd have to "produce". I'm a triple retiree, I worked hard at several jobs for over 60 years, and the last thing I want at my age is a job! :) In fact, I see my "job" as going out to my shop every day with a cup of coffee in hand, and doing exactly whatever I feel like doing (or not doing), that day. As long as the Good Lord lets me do that, I'm loving life!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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I love your attitude Picker. I'd like to be able to sell some stuff to supplement the farm income. I'm not retired per se, but I don't have a 9 to 5 anymore. My job is the house, the farm and housekeeping and errands for my mother in law. Most things I have made have either been presents or thank you gifts. I gave out leaf key chains to the nursing staff that took such good care of my Mom and they were thrilled to get them. Need to make some more for that purpose. But yeah, I agree if I HAD to do it to meet a deadline, I don't know if I'd be as much interested in it at this point in time. I'm in for the fun of it and the challenge. But a little side money wouldn't hurt either;)

 

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I know what you mean, Picker.....................though I have enjoyed making the wood carving knives I've been selling.  The only reason I'm building a forge is because so many people who use my carving knives keep saying they want "carry knives and camping knives and skinners."  I, too, work at my own pace and won't be rushed.  When I was building furniture, it would not be unusual for me to take 10 months to complete something.  "Anything worth doing is worth doing right!"  That's always been my motto. 

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2 hours ago, picker77 said:

I know none of this is a contest,

I'm, glad you said that, saved me having to.

The only time you new guys or anybody SHOULD FEEL STUPID :angry: is when or if you ignore safe practices. Naw, I'm not saying you're knowingly doing anything more dangerous than it already is, you're doing fine. Being in a rush however is unnecessarily DANGEROUS.

Always work at YOUR pace, races are for pros, not students or hobbyists. ;)

Nice looking tongs. Give it some time and you'll be making them for fun, the seriously good tong maker in our club makes a new pair rather than look for the right ones on the wall. I was a little surprised last time I stopped by, the November quake hadn't spun his shop around with the tong wall to the north. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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2 minutes ago, Frosty said:

November quake hadn't spun his shop around with the tong wall to the north.

:o

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Yeah, the wall he hangs his tongs on are 2'-3' deep from the floor to the rafters. He demos a pair of tongs by hand in about 15 minutes, it takes him about 6 minutes with his power hammers in his shop and he draws the reins out. Yeah, power hammerS he changes hammers rather than tooling, even if it's just to place the riveting block on the die. He uses (IIRC 5/8" sq.) 4140 so he can make them lighter but springy enough for a firm hold.

Comes from making a living under horses and at the anvil for 40+ years. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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18 hours ago, Chris The Curious said:

"...many people who use my carving knives keep saying they want "carry knives and camping knives and skinners."

ROFL - I've gotten that sometimes from people, too. Most of them have never as much as skinned a rabbit, much less field dressed a deer or elk, and wouldn't know a skinner from a drop point folder. Usually the younger guys either want a big heavy custom made "bushcraft" knife to -- I presume -- use on bushcrafting trips for hacking down trees or building a fort to ward off Bigfoot, or a four foot Katana to fight their way to the next village and save the poor people. The hilarious thing is most of them couldn't find their way back from the 7-11 without GPS. Sadly, like some in our hobby that have watched too much Forged In Fire and think $800 is an average fair price for 75 lb anvil, those guys have watched too much Bear Gryllis. :D

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Well, my brother, his son, and son-in-law and my three cousins know exactly what to do with hunting, skinning and camp knives and axes...............and they have many friends who do also.  I have no doubt my efforts won't be wasted, Picker.  I'm sure there are a lot of people who fit your description of the kind who don''t know any of that.  But even those can appreciate a nice knife.

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Heh, heh, heh, an acquaintance I haven't seen in probably 25 years still insists he wants me to forge his Katana. Doesn't matter how many times I've told him I don't make blades let alone swords, he's still waiting. The guy's a serious martial artist too holds several black belts in different arts, maybe held I haven't talked to him in a long long time. My Sister is still in contact though and every once in a while she'll let me know what's going on with the gang.

A bladesmith I was associated with for a short (TOO long) time made big knives I don't think he made a blade less than 10" and talked for hours at a time about how you could do everything with them, no need for a hatchet or whatever IF you owned one of HIS knives. 

My Father cleaned and dressed deer with a sharp pocket knife. His sheath knife almost never left it's sheath though he did skin with it, it was just faster and easier. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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That's always the first thing anyone asks when they find out you're a blacksmith is if you can make them a knife. Well for me, I think they get a little shock of me being a female smith, then ask if I make knives. 

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Chuckle, GGL. Tell 'em sure, I make knives, but I don't mess around with little girlie knives -- I'll make you a two-pound 16" Texas chopper with a 3/8" spine for $650, but you'll have to make a $450 deposit, and I currently have an 18 month backlog. :)

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Now there's an idea! I love me a big knife. A kukri style or cleaver in particular. Now...I just got to learn how and I'll be set;)

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I really want to become proficient enough to make a good Kukri some day, CGL.  They are most probably the best survival knife out there.  I've seen contests between an axe and Kukri weilders chopping and it's amazing what a good Kukri is capable of.

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