Introduction: Make Steel Forging Tongs

Picture of Make Steel Forging Tongs

Once again, I had nothing to do (and i'm supposed to be a college student) so I made these. not to say that the other tongs instructable's a bad one, but I think these are easier to do. They're not better, just different. (I don't have a plasma cutter, for one) You'll need:
1: A piece of MILD steel big enough to make the tongs. I used some 20mm wide by 4mm thick by 1 meter long, giving me tongs about 50 cm long when I'm done.
2: You'll need a metal vise sturdy enough to stand all the bending that's going to be happening, 2 pairs of heavy-ish metal pliers, a hacksaw, for cutting the metal
3: You'll also need a blowtorch capable of heating this much steel into its plastic state (A fairly bright red colour) and the relevant protective gear. A drill and a bolt, to make the hole and hold them together are also pretty important.

Step 1: Cut the Steel Bar to Shape

Picture of Cut the Steel Bar to Shape

Cut the steel bar to the length you want the tongs to be. Longer tongs are harder to use. I had 1 metre of steel, so i just cut it in half. Now the important cut: 5cm from the end of each bar, cut halfway through the steel. This will make the bend that forms the jaws of the tongs tighter. The bars in the picture haven't had the second cut made yet.

Step 2: Bend the Steel

Picture of Bend the Steel

This is the bit you need to pay attention to. Heat the steel at the bottom of the cut you made to a medium to bright red heat. The closer you get the steel to red, the less chance it has of getting stressed and snapping an potentially inconvenient moments. Once the steel's red, grab it in the pliers, and twist it in the vise. The vise should be open enough so that you can easily slip the metal in and out. Also, when you're bending, bend the newly-formed jaw of the tongs inwards slightly. This will help the tongs pick stuff up. I also cut off a piece of steel that was getting in the way. The pictures show what I mean best. REMEMBER: both sides of the tongs are the same, don't twist one bit of metal one way and another the other way. Twist the jaws the same way, otherwise your tongs will look stupid.

Step 3: Drill a Hole...

Now you have 2 identical pieces of metal, you need to join them together. Pinch them together with your fingers and find a point that feels comfortable for you. What I mean by that is: find the place you want them to rotate around. Depending on the size of the stuff you want to grab with these, you'll need to move it somplace. I don't need them to hold huge things, so i put it 8cm in from the end, about halfway up.

Step 4: ...And Add a Bolt

Picture of ...And Add a Bolt

Once you've drilled your hole, you need to fix the two bits of metal together. Use a short bolt, slightly smaller than the hole you drilled to do this (i forgot to mention that i used a 3mm drill bit) Don't use those locking nuts, the ones with the nylon insert, because it'll just melt and smell. Use a normal nut. You should have something that looks like the picture. I also bent the bolt over, so it can't come undone when i'm doing something. Don't make them too tight. Metal expands when it heats up, so leave some dead space

Step 5: Bend the Handles

Picture of Bend the Handles

Once you've bolted them otgether, test to see how they close. Find the point where the handles split, that is: where one handle isn't above another handle anymore. Go back to the vise, and fire up the torch. Heat the area you selected to Red heat and bend it. Again: having the vise open enough to slip the metal in and out, but still close enough to grip the metal well is a good idea. Using your 2 pairs of pliers (one on each side of the metal, so you hold both sides) twist the metal through 90 degrees. Do this for both sides. Twisting the metal again makes better handles for the tongs, and reduces the chances of catching a bit of flesh in them. They should look like the ones in the picture when they're done.
Once everything's been bent, sawed, drilled and generally prodded, let them cool down (stuff doesn't have to be glowing to be hot). Once they're cool, test them. Try picking up things of different sizes. Try picking up the following things:
Keys, Pens, Watches, Padlocks, Files, DVD cases, Stuffed rats with LED eyes.
Dont try to pick up small relatives. They won't appreciate it.


JRose69 (author)2016-05-12

These tongs although usable to an extent are very weak( no offense mean), they have too many right angles caused by cutting and bending as opposed to forging the tongs from one piece.

Any way good effort, good starting point

lawsno (author)2011-04-21

Hi. I'm an amateur blacksmith and I've made tongs very similar to these. They were my first tongs. This style is often made very long handled and used as pick-up tongs for grabbing hot stuff that falls on the ground. They aren't very good for pounding on in my experience, the cut and twisted jaws are weak. They work ok on really small stock, but if you are working with larger pieces or heavy bars for knifemaking too much force is transfered and the jaws will bend open. They can be adjusted back, but that gets annoying.

I eventually made a heavier duty pair with shorter handles and mated twists to turn the jaws. They are working pretty well and though heavy, they don't bend.

excellent work. thanks for sharing

Kroil (author)2009-09-18

I'd imagine this would also work with hacksaw blades if you were strapped for cash, although the length and strength would be disgnificantly different.

amature engineer (author)2009-04-06

I'm a wannabe bladesmith myself. I've done some knives on the grinder, not much, just a file knife. It was pretty crummy. I got a book called the $50 knife shop by Wayne Goddard. It's pretty good. I just need a decent propane torch and a fire brick and I'll be good to go. Or learn. Thanks for this Instructable. AE

repareren1 (author)2009-02-24

wy don't you make a sand cast of a self designed tong

thoraxe (author)2008-06-05

I made some forging tongs myself, i used steel rod from a shopping cart and i actually heated and hammered the steel into shape. I have a Sony Handycam Mini DV cam, but i dont know how to get video and/or pictures from it. I have none of the software that came with it, because i "borrowed" it from my school(yes, i stole it) Why didnt i get the digital camera?

toogood (author)2007-04-18

u a black smith ?

Vendigroth (author)toogood2007-04-18

it's my hobby i suppose a more technically accurate term would be "Bladesmith" i don't do the horseshoes, y'see

toogood (author)Vendigroth2007-05-16

u don't have to make horse shoes to be a black smith farriers make horse shoes.

thoraxe (author)toogood2008-01-18

blacksmiths created almost everything made out of steel in the old days. man, what i would give to live in the middle ages, especially in japan. after all, JAPANS BLACKSMITHS RULE!

die_dunkelheit (author)thoraxe2008-03-24

Yes but as an outsider you'd see no smithing at all

thoraxe (author)die_dunkelheit2008-03-24

well, i mean as a part of their community, or at least watch :)

die_dunkelheit (author)2008-03-24

I personally really like these tongs.

thoraxe (author)2008-01-18

Thanks! I will try this, and then try to make some out of some steel rebar

thoraxe (author)thoraxe2008-02-24

i wish i had a camera 2 make an instructable

thoraxe (author)thoraxe2008-02-24


Vendigroth (author)thoraxe2008-01-18

Beware the face that rebar's frankly crap.

thoraxe (author)Vendigroth2008-01-19

rebar is really strong though, and you dont need super-strong steel to make tongs

Vendigroth (author)thoraxe2008-01-19

Nope, there's no quality control exercised over it, and the carbon content's a mystery. Hence: bear in mind the fact that it could be completely unpredicatble.

brainspater (author)2007-12-26

That is a good tool to use on metal that is yellow hot, lol!

toogood (author)2007-09-19

this is a very good site :

toogood (author)2007-05-16

i think it would be much stronger if u twisted the jors and not cut and twist the .. great instructable btw

Vendigroth (author)toogood2007-05-16

yeh...i've been thinking of making another pair, for slightly smaller work (there are quite big, really) I'll do that, thanks

Vendigroth (author)2007-02-21

I'm not certain that i've published this. Can someone comment please?

jcpoczatek (author)Vendigroth2007-02-21

here's a comment...

Vendigroth (author)jcpoczatek2007-02-22

TY, seems to work now

Legend (author)Vendigroth2007-04-13

You can see if it's published on your profile page (the "You" tab). There will be a box with "Published" "Unpublished" "Collaboration". If it's in the Published tab then, yup, it's published!

Vendigroth (author)Legend2007-04-13

yeh, i've got it now thanks anyway, tho

Legend (author)Vendigroth2007-04-14

For future reference, and for others :-)

Leon Close (author)Vendigroth2007-02-21

definately published

th3boy (author)2007-03-11

Nice, I'm actually thinking about forging a sword once the weather gets better. This should save me money.

canida (author)2007-02-22

Nice job! I'd recommend putting a picture of the finished product on the "intro" page, as it gives a better overview of the project and a larger incentive to click from the explore page. (The same applies to your previous Instructables.)

Vendigroth (author)canida2007-02-22

how do i do that?

canida (author)Vendigroth2007-02-22

Open this Instructable, click on "edit", bring up the intro step, and drag/drop a picture into the photo field just like you did for the other steps. When you hit save it will automatically update the published Instructable.

Vendigroth (author)canida2007-02-23

and doing that gets it put on the front page? you'll have to excuse me, i know practically nothing about computers. Ram, HTML, giggle-bytes, all of that means nothing to me

canida (author)Vendigroth2007-02-23

You've done it properly. Now when people are scrolling the list of projects through they'll see a thumbnail picture of your project instead of just a title and a blank space. (I seem to have used some vague terms in my first comment, but you figured it out.)

AlexTheGreat (author)2007-02-22

no, yours are better.

crapflinger (author)2007-02-21

you published it...nice tongs would be nice to maybe drill multiple fulcrum points along the tongs so that they could be adjustable? that way you can pick up bigger stuff without making new tongs?

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Bio: I shouldn't have to tell you that using a dagger to undo this little, fiddly screw's a bad idea. AAAAARGH! big project ^^ so ... More »
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