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Tong Reins: what size stock?


GrayCat

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Short version: what size stock would you recommend using for tong reins if forge welding them on?

So I have a decent amount of 5/8” round stock, mild steel. Seems like good stuff for making tong blanks out of, but it’s pretty thick stuff. I’d imagine that a 12-14” pair of tongs with 5/8” reins would be a nice heavy duty set of tongs, but overkill for what I will be needing. A big heavy set of tongs seems unnecessary for my current skill level, and projects that I’ll be doing. I thought about drawing the reigns out on every blank like I have done with smaller square stock, seems like it will be more work than it’s worth. I’ve been testing out forge welding on some random scraps, and I think I’m ready to try and forge weld reins into a set of blanks. For those of you who go this route, what size do you use for the reins?

thanks for the info!

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  • GrayCat changed the title to Tong Reins: what size stock?

I think it depends on how long you want the reigns myself. I prefer shorter reigns so most of the tongs i make get 1/2" round bar welded on for reigns. But  the longer they get the more they flex. I have one set of hammer eye tongs that have  9/16" round bar welded on for reigns. Also some of my smaller lighter tongs are made completely from 1/2" round. 

I also do not forge weld the reigns on, quicker and easier just to fire up the old stick welder. 

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22 hours ago, BillyBones said:

I think it depends on how long you want the reigns myself. I

I prefer shorter reins when using my solid fuel forge but I definitely like a little extra length when I fire up the propane forge. The psoriasis on the backs of my hands and fingers make the longer reins a necessity. 

Pnut

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I will be firing up my ground forge tomorrow. The stock for my tongs was heavy round maybe 3/4''.  Going to cut off 6" off end and draw down the reigns and get comfortable using the edge of my new anvil.  Using the improvised trailer hitch anvil was getting old.  The super thick sway bars off of that hitch will be many future projects.  I got my hands near roasting a few times trying to get the vice grips just right, tongs will be nice.

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I had a student who wanted to make tongs from 3/4" sucker rod; after going on and on about that was what a guy on YT was doing, I let him.  Don't think he ever got a pair done.  I figured he might be ready to listen to reason when the lock down hit.

Tong rein size depends a lot on size of stock you will using, type of forge you have, YOUR hand size and condition, etc and so on.  My favorite knifemaking tongs is a set of snub bit short reined shoeing tongs sized for 1/4" stock---my usual tang thickness.  I've recently added another set of small alligator shoeing tongs, where I gave been grinding the teeth down to hold blade sections when working on modifying tangs.

I do have some large massive tongs designed for LARGE stock and use with a powerhammer or multiple strikers with 12# sledges; funny that it's easier to find a powerhammer these days than strikers with skill and stamina...

I forged a set of Ti tongs for use with the gasser...did it around 25 years ago when I was suffering a bad bout of blacksmiths elbow.  At the correct temp CP 1 or 2 Ti forges like butter and I could use so light a hammer working it that my elbow didn't notice I was getting away with it!

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I already cut the jaws and boss in the tongs with the oversized stock, that was what I did the last few short forging sessions while I was carving a drum with my chainsaw.  Drawing down the reigns will help me learn the much needed skillset and lighten the weight plus the cutoff 6" ends will be 2 more projects.  The boss needs work on the anvil edge so it closes more smoothly.  My daddy put a hammer in my hand very young, but I did not learn to hammer left handed until I built my house.  I got to where I could hammer small finish nails lefty; the right is always more accurate.  This helps minimize neck pain.  Hopefully I will minimize future elbow issues by using both arms to anvil hammer.

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3/4" round will work well for most tongs. For most of my tongs I start with 3/4" square mild steel. Some I forge weld the reins and taper as I said above. Some I draw out from the parent stock " by hammer in hand" and taper as above.  Both hold up well, but I prefer drawing out with no forge weld on my 25# lil giant.  :)

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Good Morning,

3/4 round about 9" long, to start with. This size works for general Tongs. You can start with square as well, square has more material than round.

Start with the Jaw definition, then the hinge boss. DON'T MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM THE BACK OF THE JAW TO THE HINGE TOO THIN!! Very common mistake!! From the back of the hinge boss, start the reins about 3 inches. It is stronger to leave more material next to the hing boss (VERY Important). (Do not start forging out the reins from the tip, back to the hinge boss, you will burn the ends off!! ). Turn your material around and hold the jaw in your Tongs, work 3" at a time, nice gradual taper, break the edges as you go. Finish each 3" section before you go to the next 3 ". This will leave a lump at your small end for last, this way you won't burn the rein tip off!!

Neil

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  • 2 weeks later...

there is a great chart that has the sizes of all the parts of the tongs.  Glenn has posted it try not to recreate the wheel they work. I have made sets using the chart and like the way they feel. The only piece of advice I would give if you use a gas forge you might want the reins longer. 

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  • 3 months later...

Funny... I have a gas forge and I have been using the tongs with shorter reins. I have a small opening at the bottom between thick doors that my work sticks out from. That's one of the advantages of having a circular flow in the forge.

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