Make Steel Forging Tongs




About: 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 practically no chance of instructables from me till july, p'raps? maybe a bit la...

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

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

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

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

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.



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    38 Discussions


    2 years ago

    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


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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.