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Best scraps make tongs from?

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Still new, but I know i will need to make a couple sets of tongs in the near future. Having a hard time finding local vendors of raw materials. Wondering what might be the best options to look for in the scrap piles to make tongs from?

Or if there is already a good thread that might point me in the right direction please feel free to point me there. These forums are still a little overwhelming. 

Thanks in advance. 

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So what kind of tongs are you making and what kinds of tongs do you like?  If it's for historical demos and strict accuracy you probably need to make them from real wrought iron and if wagon tyres are your only source you will probably need to refine it a couple of times---anchor chain should be good to go as it sits!

I like higher C tongs as they can be lighter---but I have to be careful to not overheat them and then quench them!  Automotive coil spring and sucker rod are the scrap for those.

I forged a set of Ti tongs from CP 1 or 2 for use with my gasser. They are light and heat doesn't travel down the reins very fast.  They were made from some Ti found in a scrap pile.

The devil is in the details!

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3/4" square stock, mild steel. 3/4" round works well too

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I just got a warning from a MOD. Saying this thread is in the wrong section.... any ideas where it should be held?

 

Tongs belong in the tongs section, We already moved it

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awesome thanks Thomas Powers, gonna head out to the wrecking yard later today to look for some coil springs... 

In all honesty, I have no idea what kind of tongs I like or need. The last time I did any forge work was probably about 17 years ago.   Any suggestions for my first couple sets of tongs would be appreciated.  Im sure I will be making many sets of tongs over the years. But for now I'll just try to keep it simple. 

 At this point I am working on building a coal forge, JABOD. Maybe from an old wheelbarrow. 

But in the meantime i am also trying to sorce a small usable stack of scrap materials to make my tools from. I have a handful of scrap. Including a couple hunks of truck axle and offcut round and square billet of some sort of tool steel from a machine shop, and some industrial plainer blades.  I figure I've got some good material to make punches chisels and drifts from the truk axle. 

 

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 I just sourced out an endless supply of free to me, used coil springs. I should be set for materials for a while.

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I have a pile of them myself; generally to give to new smiths wanting to forge blades who show up with RR spikes. Gave 2 larger ones to the University's Bladesmithing Club back when they were still meeting.  I'm a firm believer that practicing on what you will be using works better than practicing on stuff with different forging parameters.

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Did you do a web search for Steel supply Portland Oregon? I see several pages of hits. From scrappers through "Metal Supermarket" to what I'm sure are large industrial suppliers.

Pro tip. Call them on the telephone trying to contact them online only works if you're buying semi truck loads or at least a couple tons. A polite phone call will put you in touch with a human who can quote you a price and availability for small quantities. Expect to see a minimum sale of 1 stick which is a 20' length of the size and shape stock.

I saw a couple fabrication shops that sell drops. 

Just jumping onto a world spanning forum to ask questions you can answer for yourself isn't a great way to earn friends. Hmmm?

There is plenty of steel in Portland Ore. If you take a hack saw you can cut it into lengths short enough to carry on a bus. 

I'd recommend 5/8" square hot rolled as thick enough to make good tongs without having to draw down a lot of extra steel. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 5/20/2020 at 8:35 AM, ThomasPowers said:

What about A36 as opposed to mild steel?

Lol, works for me.  ;)

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I thought A-36 was mild steel. 

When i was working on trannies , started a new job this week, we had a huge pile of scrap. Everything from coil springs to engine blocks. Most shops i have worked in are just glad to get rid of the stuff and have "the scrap guy" stop in periodically that just loads it up and takes it. Take a box of doughnuts to your local mechanic and ask if you can rummage through their scrap pile. One note about coil springs, if they are broken, Fords are notorious for broken springs, cut back a good section from the broken end. Many times they will be filled with stress fractures.  

Becuase of the China trade thing going on right now scrap prices are way down. Being that far down a lot of scrap yards around here that last year did not sell to the public has now opened up to the public. 

If you got a drop from a machine shop, do you know these guys? If so ask if they would let you piggy back an order from them. 

There is a Metals Supermarket in Portland. Look up their web site, if for no other reason they have a lot of useful info on the different alloys. 

 

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A 36 is listed as a low carbon steel; yet many of us have run into it appreciably hardening when working it as it's a mechanical properties specified steel over composition specification.

If you get a chance to work old school 1018 you can really notice the difference a lot of times.

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I actually have a 3# or so chunk of 1018. Yes it does work remarkably easy. 

I use a lot of A-36 and know what you say about it hardening. I always just looked at it like rebar. Sometimes it will, sometimes it wont. All but 1 set of my tongs are made from A-36. I see what you mean by composition though as to the difference in mild steel. Again like rebar, mystery metal. 

As a side note the past week i been playing with a pattern weld. It is just from some scrap pieces laying about but so far it has A-36, 1018, 52100, O-1, coil spring (5160 i believe) leaf spring (not sure, it is from a 68' Camaro) and a piece of 4140. Like i said just playing if it turns out as something nice, cool. If not oh well i tried. I am just trying to see how many different kinds of steels i can stick together. 

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Frosty, I have searched for steel suppliers Locally. But I was inquiring about decent scrap (freebies) stock to work from, as I have been out of work for the last 2.5 months and funding is getting low.  And reclaimed and recycled material at low overhead seems like a good place to start

Also most of the suppliers are not allowing customers in their yard/warehouse at this time.

What is this you speak of. FAB shops selling "drops"? Just like splitting off part of their bulk order with a friend...??

I'll definitely look into this said "Metal supermarket" thing.

 

BillyBones, I hit up the guys at a local suspension shop, where they gave me access to their scrap bin whenever I want to stop by. Score! Plenty of coil spring in there.

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Make them a couple of bottle openers from scrap you got from them and you will probably have to start fighting them off wanting to give you more scrap than you can carry---or use!

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Fab shop is short for Fabrication shop, I only skimmed the hits and saw a couple advertising that they sell drops. Drops are pieces left from a stick used for a project, for example you need top rails for a railing job and each section is 6' long, each stick cut will leave 2' that is too short to use but is still a useful piece of steel. It is a "drop." 

My favorite tong making scrap is coil spring with a wire dia. between 5/8" and 3/8". When you work hardenable steel keep the water well away from forge and anvil so you don't forget and stick the work in water or drop it in. String steel tongs don't require any heat treatment, they're springy enough annealed to make good tongs. Springier steel lets you forge thinner, lighter tongs without loss of strength. The other down side being hardenable steel so if you let the tongs get red hot you can NOT cool them in water or they'll become brittle, so you need to put them on the floor to cool and normalize. No problem cooling the reins (handles) with a wet rag, you aren't going to let the reins get red hot! :o

If you need to use salvaged steel you're just going to have to be patient and keep your eyes open. Sure I have lots of coil springs, enough I refuse offers of free coils but I've been collecting potential resources for almost 50 years. If you lived within visiting distance I'd be happy to have you over and help you make a couple sets. 

If there are farms around check with hay or potato farms for "hay rake tines" or "potato chain" both are medium carbon steel and springy good tong stock.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, sweet. Lots of farms round here. Haven't gotten a chance to make the couple hour drive to the family farm in Corvallis OR yet, but i plan to make a visit some time soon. 

Familiar with Fab shops. Just wasn't sure what you ment by "drops" but totally makes sense. I know them as "off cut". I picked up a good amount of drops from a local machinist the other day. Probably end up digging through his pile more when I have a better idea of what is going to be useful scrap for the projects I will be doing. 

As for asking around these parts, I was curious as to what scrap others find useful for tongs. I see you, (Frosty) have specifically answered this in other threads. So I appreciate you taking the time to drop some insight here. 

As I familiarize myself with the forums I promise my questions will become a lot less annoying. 

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The interesting part is that people tend to use things that are local to them + things that are more universal. For example sucker rods are common down here but not in Maine; however car coil springs can be found in both places.

I used to see a lot more old hay rake tines in Arkansas and Ohio than in New Mexico; etc. Potato digger pieces not common in NM...

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Definitely no sucker rod readily available in my neck of the woods. 

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Nah, the only thing annoying is when I don't spot trick questions. You're a sneaky one, watch your back. :P

Frosty The Lucky.

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Portland Oregon has several steel supply places, not just the metal supermarkets. East side steel, the steel yard, and others. There are even scrap yards. 

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recently made my second pair out of leaf spring, they're bolt tongs and i thought the drawn piece between the boss and the bit wasnt thick enough but dang can those things withstand alot of pressure. hasnt came out of alignment at all.

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Thanks, Rachelle. I'll be looking into those options once things get rolling in the shop. Im gonna start building my forge early next week, amongst a few other small projects to get the workshop ready to rock n roll.

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