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Thomas Kadatz

Tong handling

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Hello all, 

I was wondering if anyone has any references for the proper way to hold/use tongs? I know there is a specific way to use a hammer so you do not hurt yourself, is there such a thing for tongs? I noticed my tong hand getting sore after a couple hours of work. If anyone has any insight or can point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

-TK

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Yes, the holding hand often has a harder job than the hitting hand. Tong rings can help. I have some old chain links of various sizes that I use to slide over the reins to keep the tongs tight on the forging.

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It's important to fit your tongs to the work.  This can be either a new set, or a set you modify to fit the task at hand.  It is common in ornamental and architectural work to find a set that almost fits, heat the jaws, and clamp the work in the jaws in the vise to ensure a good fit.  I can't recommend that with some brands like Off-Center Forge (made from 4140 and heat treated for springiness, you'll lose that if you heat them too much) or Tom Tongs (made from what appears to be cottage cheese with a high iron content).

Some folks like tong rings, some don't.  Try one and see.

If the tongs fit the work securely and the reins are a comfortable distance apart when gripped, you may just need to relax a little.  A death grip on tongs is almost as bad as a death grip on a hammer.

I like semi-box jaw tongs, bolt tongs for round bar, and blade tongs like the ones JJ Simon sells down in the tailgate section here.  

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Thanks, 

Do you detach the tongs off the piece your working on every time you put the piece in the forge, or do you leave the tongs clamped on?

it seems like a pain to grab the piece with the tongs and then slide the ring on every time you take the piece in and out of the forge.

-Tk

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That's why I don't use tong rings.  ;)  Your choice, though.  If you use solid fuel you can often leave the tongs on longer than you can in gas.

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Thanks Alan,

so to form the tongs to the work, you heat the tongs, press them around the piece you are working on, and then quench them? If so i'm assuming it depends on the steel they are made from  for the quenching recipe
I am in Canada so it is hard to locate a place that sells tongs without shipping costing as much as the tongs themselves.
-TK

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13 minutes ago, Thomas Kadatz said:

Thanks Alan,

so to form the tongs to the work, you heat the tongs, press them around the piece you are working on, and then quench them? If so i'm assuming it depends on the steel they are made from  for the quenching recipe
I am in Canada so it is hard to locate a place that sells tongs without shipping costing as much as the tongs themselves.
-TK

You don't have to quench the tongs.  (Unless you want them to cool down faster :) )

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Yep.  Just don't quench Off-Center Forge tongs.  They're 4140 and may get too brittle.

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Thanks guys,

Is there a certain grip I should be using for tongs? like a hammer grip or something?

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Well, just don't run your thumb out along the top of the reins, and don't squeeze too hard, that's all I can think of.

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Hammer/anvil technique play into this too.  I somtimes find myself struggling to get a piece on the anvil in a way that I get a clean strike where the work doesn't bounce.  When I am struggling with that, I wear out my tong arm pretty quickly.

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Okay, all this information helps me a lot. Thank you guys.

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