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I Forge Iron

First set of Tongs

Karl von Wald

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Yes they're excellent tongs. This is an alternate method for making standard tongs, not the "simple twist tongs" referred to in the thread started by Natkova. Jock's "Dempsey Twist" takes about the same level of skill as making them the "regular" way. I consider tongs as an intermediate project a person needs to have some of the basics down well to make tongs anything but a frustrating PITA.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yeah this is in my opinion easier to make than fully forging tongs from say 16mm round (minimum). Just because you save a lot of time by not having to draw out the reins. I make all my tongs this way. At least until u can get that drop tong weld consistent. The downside is that the material for the jaw and transition from jaw to boss can be limited. And thus be a weak spot.

To make this optimal compared to the figure you showed is to split the reins from the flat bar instead of forging the flat bar down. Look up "split rein tongs* splitting can take a bit long time with lower heats so make sure to have a hot fire.

In my opinion the welded reins are the perfect tong construction as you can have thick stock for a nice strong jaw and boss and thin reins without the effort of forging down the thick stock.


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For what its worth, at Turley forge, the first day you make a horse shoe sandwich. Thats making one shoe out of 1 and 1/2 horse shoes. Thats a cool forge weld on the first day. We made tongs on week 3.  Drop the tongs was de re Guerrero. So what does this mean? We forged about 4 hours a day. So 10 days@4hrs per day = 40 hours and we were ready for 3/4" square and a drop the tongs weld by the third week.

On the pic above, What isnt shown is how much mass you lose when you forge out that twist. I do a lot of that detail because it makes a really nice art noveau type of transition detail from horizontal flat to vertical flat. So for the hinge joint, a good thickness is 3/8" finished and about 3/4" diameter. So starting with 3/4" square creates this easily. To do the above, and get the same dimensions, I would start with ~1/2"x 1" minimum. In fact its just as much work to do one as the other. 

My advice to new guys is that you are new,,, Thus the more hammering you do the better you become. Don't do anything because its a shortcut or easier. You are just short cutting your learning. Forging 3/4" square and drop the tongs weld or forged out reins are important tools to have, so don't be buffaloed by the task. 

Never forget, our tools are made from iron which is cheap and success or failure, the time spent learning is priceless. 

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So, the Dempsey TWIST tongs aren't twisted, they're basically regular forged tongs.

When you were studying at Mr. Turley's forge did you have tongs to use or did you have to wait 3 weeks? 

The simple twist tongs don't involve any forging except maybe drawing the reins down if you don't just grind them. They're not intended to replace or short cut the learning process, they're an expedient tool until you've gained the skills to forge your own. They are an "until" tool not an "instead of" tool.

Frosty The Lucky.

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You need to know to wich side to twist it 


It's not same!

And don't use thin metal as I did 



This twisting is not easy like it is in picture.

You need to have some distance between " imagined boss" and jaws.


If not you twist rivet and screw everything up.



This twist later cause problema because one side rub against eacother .

And sometimes reins need to be adjusted , I didn't had much success with this method.

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Ayup it's twisted, my bad. I only gave it a glance looking for the mass lost forging out the twist you referred to. 

I need to stop posting very much for a while. I'm enjoying various Covid-19 miseries and am missing things constantly, even reading text is tiring so I'm skipping little things like double checking the subject of the conversation I'm engaged in. Heck, I'm checking IFI to stay awake waiting for a call back from the doctor and or my ophthalmologist. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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For anyone making the Dempsey Twist tongs (great beginner's tongs, BTW), make sure the thin twisted parts are at least orange to yellow when twisting slowly, or if done colder you'll end up with microfractures on the twist.....

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Two tips when making twist tongs:

  1. Chamfer the edges of the section to be twisted. This reduces the risk of forming cold shuts.
  2. Once you've made the twist, upset the twisted section back towards the boss (cooling on either side to isolate the heat). This adds some mass at the connection between the jaw and the boss, which needs to be nice and strong.
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On 8/12/2022 at 4:32 PM, anvil said:

nice art noveau type of transition detail from horizontal flat to vertical flat

I made this statement above and feel it is important enough to expand on it a bit. This twist is a technique and too often when we learn one, we don't apply it to other ideas or designs. These hinges were for a log house, and I chose to fit them to the log, including each log joint because I wanted the brackets to be what I call a negative detail. Positive means it stands out and is the most common. neutral means all details live together equally and negative means,basically, you don't notice it but if its removed, you feel a sense that somethings missing. It's the most subtle and, the hardest to pull off. Usually in log construction the logs are blazed to give a white background to make the iron stand out, to create a more "factory" right angle and flat spaces for the vert and horiz elements to rest on. Not to mention faster and easier for production type construction's benefit. The "right angle" of the brackets have the angle forged to match the natural log being a curved and unique angle made by the log joinery instead of a straight line. The legs, top and bottom are curved to match the "round" log as well as fitted in and out and twisted in order to fit the character of the log. 

The first pic is layout. With this chalk layout, each forged piece will match the one shown here. 

pic 2: shows the drawing of the scroll. The bottom piece shows the right side drawn out, and the left side in its basic untwisted state. The center iron shows the left side finish forged, but not scrolled. You can see the left side is horizontal and the right side is vertical and the twist is forged out. The extra growth from forging the twist out is taken into consideration in my layout. The process here is exactly the same as in the Dempsey Twist. A fuller to separate the two masses, then simple forging to fit whatever you are making.  

pic 3: Coming out of the fire.

pic 4: shows the finished pieces and the final fit before assembly. 

pic 5: does two things. It is fun play for future ideas and shows how similar both pair of scrolls are. This is most important in the grand scheme of things.

The last two pics show them installed and a second variation. 

So the main deal here is this scroll pattern, with the log part removed is nothing complex and any student with a week or so in the fire should be able to do this if you want some variety in your simple bracket scrolls.

For what its worth the log work and joinery is mine as well, done with two good log guys.


Tong Twist Brackets small 1.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 3.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 4.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 5_1.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 6.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 7.jpg

Tong Twist Brackets small 8.jpg

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