An essential element of hand forging is tongs, which are necessary next only to the hammer and anvil. They enable the blacksmiths to handle and move metal workpieces with more ease, precision, and efficiency - all while keeping their fingers intact!
Blacksmiths often create bespoke tongs for a particular metalworking job or alter existing tongs to suit their specific requirements. Although some kinds of tongs have benefits over others, with enough mortification and experience, you can usually make a single variety appropriate for virtually any task.
A Look at the Tongs' Structure
Whether forging or purchasing new tools, it's critical to understand the structure and function of your tools to make educated choices.
Before buying tongs, it is critical to understand their various features. A pair of tongs has two handles that are referred to as the reins. Blacksmiths often employ these handles to control the temperature of a metal piece while it is being forged. The junction between the tongs, where the reins connect, facilitates the opening and closing motion. A hinge plate and a rivet are usually used to hold the two reins together.
Beyond the joint are the jaws or pieces of the tongs, which are the portions of the tongs that conduct the grabbing or gripping action and are in direct contact with the metal workpiece and forge. Tong jaws are very flexible and may be manufactured in various forms to suit a variety of purposes.
Parts of a Blacksmithing Tongs
It is critical to grasp the basics of any instrument before attempting to utilize it effectively. Additionally, you will make a more informed choice of tongs. As a result, let us analyze the primary components of blacksmithing tongs. The tongs are composed of three main parts:
Handles: Tongs' handles are sometimes referred to as reins. The function of the handles is, as the name implies, to wield the tongs. One of the most practical aspects of being a blacksmith is the ability to create your tools. Because manufacturers do not bind a blacksmith, you may customize the handle length to develop tongs for a particular purpose. Take note that the longer the handles, the heavier the tongs.
Joints: The joint's purpose is to enable the tongs to open and close. It is usually made up of two components: rivets and a hinge plate. Rivets are a classic method of connecting two metal bars. Apart from being very sturdy, rivets also provide a significant aesthetic element. It is composed of a shank, a tail, and a forged head on one end.
Jaws: Finally, the jaws are the most critical component of this instrument. This portion grips, and it comes into close touch with the hot forge and heated metal. The jaws are what distinguish the various styles and forms of blacksmithing tongs. In the blacksmithing shop, you simply cannot work with any bit. Each kind and form of bit is purpose-built.
What Should the Length of Blacksmith Tongs Be?
Apart from the form of the jaws, the size of the tongs is critical. They vary in size from 10 to 40 inches, depending on the kind of work. Generally, blacksmithing tongs should be between 16 and 22 inches in length. Take note that tongs with a longer length are heavier. Long tongs have the advantage of allowing a smith to work at a greater distance from the hot forge. Shorter tongs need more excellent proximity to the hot forge and material.
Bear in mind that the optimum tongs would be longer than the lengths specified above in certain instances. Pick-up tongs are a good illustration. They are often very lengthy, which allows you to effortlessly pick up your material without getting close to the forge.
The optimum duration is significantly influenced by factors such as your skill level and the kind of job you do. The proper length of tongs alleviates tension on the wrist and hand during usage. Given the difficulty of gripping the stock with tongs for an extended time, most novices find it more straightforward, to begin with, lighter tongs. Your ability to handle the material will increase as their weight decreases.
The Different Types of Blacksmithing Tongs
There is an infinite number of kinds and shapes of tongs that you may forge that will perform the job. As previously said, it is essential to choose the proper type of tongs. In any other case, it may be very hazardous. Therefore, unless you are working on a single kind of job, you should have a few different pairs of tongs. When it comes to tongs, keep in mind that no one size fits all. The following are some of the most popular kinds of blacksmithing tongs.
Tongs with a V-bit
Blacksmiths often use V-bit tongs. As the name implies, they include letter-v-shaped bits that enable a secure grip on various stock shapes. While v-bit tongs can grip flat material, they are better suited to square and circular stock. If you're a newcomer to blacksmithing, v-bit tongs are a great place to begin.
Tongs with Wolf-jaw
Tongs with a wolf-jaw are regarded the finest for general-purpose work. As a result, they are suitable for beginners. They feature various pairs of "teeth" that can accommodate a variety of different types and sizes of stocks. Wolf-jaw tongs come in a variety of forms and sizes. They firmly grip flat, round, and square material. However, if your tongs do not firmly grasp your work, immediately halt the forging operation.
Tongs with a flat jaw
Flat-jaw tongs are one of the most straightforward tongs in the blacksmith's shop. They are often used on flat material, owing to their flat jaws. Flat-jaw tongs come in an incredible variety of forms and sizes. The likelihood is that each blacksmith will create somewhat differently.
As you would guess, pickup tongs are precisely that tongs for picking up small objects. Because there is always something to lift from the ground or forge in blacksmithing, you need tongs capable of doing it efficiently. On the other hand, pickup tongs are not termed forging tongs, mainly if they are lightweight.
Tongs with a bolt-jaw
Bolt-jaw tongs have a curved aperture that accommodates bolts and other objects with bent or unusual forms. For instance, if you manufacture a large quantity of S-hooks, bolt-jaw tongs are an excellent option. Bolt-jaws, like other kinds, come in a variety of forms and sizes. They are one of the safest tongs for square and circular bars.
Tongs with a box-jaw
Consider box-jaw tongs to be an enhanced variant of flat-jaw tongs. The critical distinction is that box-jaw tongs have a box-shaped jaw with two lips on each side. These lips act as a stopper for the metal from slipping off. Bear in mind that box-jaw tongs must be sized according to the material's thickness and breadth.
Which Tongs Are the Best for a Beginning Blacksmith?
While there are many tong styles available, wolf-jaw tongs are regarded as the finest for beginning blacksmiths. Tongs with wolf-jaws can grasp materials of various sizes and forms. They are both readily available and reasonably priced. When beginning blacksmithing, it is suggested that you acquire at least two different sizes of wolf-jaw tongs.
Wolf-jaw tongs are a kind of blacksmithing tongs that include various "teeth" to accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes of stock. The wolf-jaw tongs' combination of advantages makes them a great option for a novice. Later on, if you decide to specialize in a certain kind of labor, you may add another pair of tongs.
As with other kinds, wolf-jaw tongs vary in form and size, but most of them can hold flat, round, or square material without difficulty. Beginner blacksmiths usually utilize 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inches stocks and these tongs have been shown to handle these stocks firmly.
Wolf-jaw tongs are often regarded as the most delicate blacksmithing tongs for general work due to their flexibility. The most significant part about them is that it never needs adjustment, and they are sturdy.
Tongs are necessary equipment in every blacksmithing business. Apart from having anything to hit the metal, you'll also need something to retain it. That is when blacksmithing tongs enter the picture. A decent pair of tongs makes labor much more straightforward and safe, but most importantly, they should be appropriate for the kind of job being performed.