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I Forge Iron

New Tongs for Holding Punches, Chisels, etc.


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A lot of folks use tongs to hold their punches and chisels, especially under a treadle hammer or power hammer. The thing that’s always bothered me about the usual setup is that the punching force is perpendicular to the clamping force of the tongs, and unless the fit is very good, the tool can twist fairly easily -- plus, if your punches aren't all the same size, it's hard to get a consistent fit.

So, I had the idea for these. The outer jaw is the main support for the tool, and the inner jaw holds the the tool tight against the outer jaw. Since the inner jaw has a cam action, it accommodates any variation in the size of the tools.






I had hoped that these would work for a larger range of tools, but in this I was somewhat disappointed. I'll probably tweak them a bit to be optimum for the small to medium sized tools and make a larger pair for the big tools.

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John, that's a pretty neat idea, is that a seam from forge welding I see on the reins of the cam piece? I would have expected to see that on the other side that gives the main support for the tool, but I don't see any obvious indications of forge welds on that side. Did you just split the opening up on that side?

Also, what was your starting material while making these?

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No, that's just a relic of the drawing out process, a longitudinal bulge not completely hammered down.

There's no welding on these at all. The loop is split and forged out, rather like an enormous bottle opener. 


The starting stock was 3/8" x 1-1/4" flat bar. I did most of the forging of the loop end first, then split the reins, finished the jaws, drew out the reins, and spent a lot of time fiddling with the jaws to get them just so.

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3 hours ago, Frosty said:

How wide is the size range they'll hold comfortably? 

About 7/16” to about 5/8”. Any smaller, and the jaws don’t grab; any larger, and the reins are too far apart to hold.

 Here’s a random selection from the rack:


The three on the left are too big. The next three work, with the reins just a bit  on the wide side. The single one in the middle is just right. The ones in the penultimate triad work with the reins overlapping. The final one on the right just slips right through. 

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John, your idea of the cam action on the tong jaws is brilliant!  Looking at it for quite a while I think I may have come up with a different way you could hold your punches, chisels, etc.  I took the liberty of copying and marking on your photo with the punch in the jaws.  As originally pictured, striking the punch would counter the force of keeping the reins closed and might make one hold tighter.

In the markup, the blue arrow direction shows turning the punch around in the opposite direction.  Then when striking it, downward force would still make the cam action tighten, but in addition it would help force the reins together, yellow arrows, making for less force required to grip the tongs.  Does this seem at all logical?  Only you trying this would validate the idea of combining the forces with the cam.

tong idea.jpg

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Good suggestion, arkie. The punch is in this alignment simply for photo purposes; I'm going to try it both ways and see which way works best. 

46 minutes ago, Latticino said:

And they say there is nothing new under the sun.

Remember, you're talking to the guy who invented the expanding bottle-opener tongs.

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  • 8 months later...

Pretty good, but could stand some improvement. It was tricky to get the exact shape I wanted, but I’m thinking of going back with the oxypropane torch to tweak them a bit. Easier to do when you can isolate the heat to exactly where you want the piece to bend. 

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