Introduction: One Heat Tong Blank

About: I am Joe, a blacksmith from the Netherlands

In this instructible I would like to demonstrate how to forge a blank for one half of a pair of tongs in one forging heat.
This means, heating it up just once to forge the blank, which can be forged into the desired type of tongs one needs
The goal is to learn and see how to forge tongs efficiently, so one can forge them quickly.

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Step 1: Checking Your Materials List

Before starting, it is useful to check whether you have all materials required to do this work.

Materials list:

-Forge with coal as fuel. (A gas, coke and or charcoal forge will work just as well)
-Anvil with reasonably good edges on a (solid) stand.
-Properly ground rounding hammer (weighing 3,5lbs in this case)
-3/4" - 18mm mild steel round stock, at least 17cm - 6 11/16" long
-V-bit tongs to hold 3/4" - 18mm round stock. (not necessary if the bar is long enough to hold in your hand without burning yourself)
-All PPE needed to do forge work; steel toe boots, apron, safety specs., ear defenders, etc.
-Soap stone to mark with.

Step 2: First Set-down

Take a near forge welding heat on the 3/4" - 18mm round mild steel bar. Make sure the heat is even through the bar and soaked in.
With this particular blank I put a line on the anvil 1 3/16" - 30 mm from the near edge of the anvil.
(These nib lengths can be varied: e.g. 3/4" - 18 mm or 1" - 25 mm)
Put your stock on the anvil, and stop till the stock touches the line. This is where you will do 3 hits.

Hit with the rounding side of the hammer.
1st hit: right on the edge, half-on-half-off of the anvil, on the stock.
2nd hit: a step forward on the bar, half way of the set-down, about 5/8" - 15 mm forward.
3rd hit: the end of the nib.

These 3 hits create a beginning of a bit of flat stock with bulged out round sides.
This bit will become the nibs of the tongs.

Step 3: Second Set-down

Before anything you must be aware that this set-down is left or right hand depended.
This blank has been done done right handed.

So for lefties: when stated "turn left", you turn RIGHT.

After the first set-down, go forward to the far edge of the anvil and turn your bar 90 degrees to the left. (lefties turn 90 degrees to the right). Put the first set-down right on the corner, at a 45 degree angle, outward. See picture 1.

Hit this area 3 times with the rounding side of the hammer.

Step 4: Third Set-down

After the second set down, turn the bar again 90 degrees to the left (90 degrees to the right for lefties).
Go to where your forging starts and stops.
The rounding side of your hammer has left a depression in the material, use this as a gauge. Look for the rim of this depression that is closest to you.
Line this rim up with the edge of your anvil and put a set-down here with the rounding side of your hammer.

Hit 3 times. Watch out you don't go farther down the stock than half way.
No more than half way. Preferably 1/3 of the way.

Step 5: Repeat the 3 Set-downs.

Repeat all 3 set-downs in the order which you started them. Use the rounding side of your hammer.

- 3 hits from back to front on the nib.
- 3 hits on the boss
- 3 hits on the transition point into the rein.

Do note that this is an avarge approach. If you have a heavier hammer, or are stronger, you can do it in fewer hits.
This is completely dependent on your own coordination and strength.
Also the opposite is possible. It can be you have to hit more than 3 times.

Step 6: Forge a Taper Down From the Boss

The blank has been roughly formed. Now there is a taper coming out from the boss, which is larger than the boss.
Or from another perspective. The round stock tapers into the boss area.
This taper has to be reversed, so the taper becomes smaller than the boss area.

Lay the tong blank on its flat side with the nib on its side as well.
Make sure it's the outside of the tong where the rivet head will come.
Take a good look at picture 1.

Line up your taper where it starts and stops. Set the taper down to where it's below the boss.
Turn the piece 90 degrees to the left (right for lefties) and set it down again till the taper is smaller than the thickness of the boss.

Step 7: Another 3 Set-down Pass With 1 Extra Step

The taper coming out of the boss now tapers thinner away from the boss.
Another full pass needs to be done on the blank to further develop the areas of the tongs.

This time use the flat side of your hammer to forge the set-downs and the extra step.

- 3 hits on the nib to thin it out a bit more and smooth up the surface.

Extra step
- 2 hits (back and front) on the side of the nib to square it up.

- 3 hits on the boss to smooth it up this area and lightly set it down more.
- 3 hits on the tapered rein to smooth out this area, as well as thinning it.

Amount of hits will vary depending on your hammer size, strength and coordination.

Step 8: Finishing the Boss

Bring the boss back to near edge of the anvil and hold it at a roughly 45 degree angle.
Use the flat side of your hammer to turn the boss into a parallelogram by hitting the the boss parallel to the anvil face with your hammer.
Take a good look at pictures 1 and 2.

( You can also make the boss round instead of a parallelogram if you prefer this)

After the front and back of the boss have been forged parallel to each other, the boss can be smoothed up again on the far edge of the anvil with the flat side of the hammer. Lay the tong blank in the same position again as the second set-down in step 3.
The steel is no longer glowing yellow or orange, thus all these hits will be planishing hits.

Step 9: Finishing Hits

At this stage your blank is done.
Or you can do a few light refining hits with the flat side of your hammer.

You can do a full pass over all set-downs again if needed.
After that the material is no longer warm enough to be forged and needs to be heated up again.

You should have a finished tong blank now.

Step 10: Look at Video Reference

For the tong blank I have also made a video to refer to.

Step 11: Refering to What Types of Tongs You Can Make of These Blanks

Depending on the length of the nib and stock size chosen, there is a wide range of types of tongs you can forge from these blanks.

- Standard flat nibs.
- Flat nibs with grooves to accept different kinds of stock.
- Hollow bits. The tongs used to forge the blanks are hollow bits.
- Bolt tongs (if the nib has more material.)
-Rivet tongs
-Scrolling tongs.

Or any other kind you can imagine for a specific purpose in the shop.

Step 12: More Info.

If you'd like more info or have requests for me.

Feel free to contact me at:

Forging tools such as (rounding) hammers and tongs can be purchased from me.
I will ship internationally.

Send me an email at: for a quotation.