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Super simple tong tutorial

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Hello everyone,


I have wanted to write this tutorial for a while now, but never got around to actually forging and taking some pictures.

I hope some people will find something of use in this tutorial, as I myself have found so much great info on this forum by tutorials posted by others.


I have done a fair bit of traditional blacksmithing and have made a few different styles of tongs, most of them are not at all easy to forge, because they have multiple step-downs and other complexities and will simply suck when not forged properly.

A few years ago, I set out to build a somewhat historical early medieval forge, and I wanted to forge some tongs based on historical finds to add to the display, to my great surprise the tongs I forged were not only simple and quick to forge, but also work very well! In fact, a pickup tong and a ‘’blade’’ tong in this style are the only tongs I use in forging knives anymore, and I own a lot of tongs, including commercial and antique tongs.

Of course, everyone has the right to his own favourite style of tongs, and there are also times when a welded-on handle shines.

I also in no way am trying to call this ‘’my’’ style of tongs as I have seen similar designs all over the world dating back 2000 years.

The good things about this style of tongs are:

1.       Easy to forge with no set-downs, twist or forge welds to get wrong.

2.       Very light

3.       A lot of gripping strength for such short tongs

4.       Easy to index and twist the work.

5.       Both halves are exactly the same.

To forge these tongs, I start with 20 cm of 20x10mm (+-7/8’’x 3/8’’) mild steel, for big work I guess I’d start with heavier material, but for normal bladesmithing I do not see the need for anything heavier. (except axe making but that is a whole other topic.)

I have no idea what available steel sizes are in imperial countries, but anything close to this size should work great.

(note, I use a coal forge and like short reigns, when you are using a gas forge it might be nice to make the reigns a bit longer and start with longer material, to save your hands from the dragon’s breath.)

I start with marking 25mm (1’’) for the actual gripping part, this can be flattened for pickup tongs, or split for blade/bolt tongs.

75mm (3’’) from the same end I make a mark where the taper of the jaw will end.


I will then forge a step to about half the material thickness on the 1-inch mark, on a rounded corner of the anvil. 


From the 3-inch mark I will draw a straight taper to the stepdown


Here is the only slightly tedious bit, from the 3-inch mark I will draw another taper to end of the bar on the opposite side.

This will be the reign of the tong, I find that with a hammer with a rounded peen and a nice yellow heat this goes quick enough, and it is great practise for forging the taper on blades anyway ;)

When this is done I bevel the corners for a better feel in the hand, this can be done with a grinder if you want to save time.

note: the taper of the reigns is forged to the wrong side in the picture below, however this is easy to correct.

the right way.jpg



The jaws of the tongs will now need to be bent, I use a wooden mallet over the horn of the handle.

The nubs at the ends are now bent back the other way to make it easier to cut the groove in the middle and bend the tongs later.




You should now have two the same shape tong blanks, and now it is time to form the jaws.

For bolt tongs I clamp the blanks in the vise and cut the groove in the middle with a chisel, an angle grinder works great too, and bend them roughly to the material you want to grip.

With pickup tongs the nub is just hammered flat and ground straight when the tongs are assembled

In the thickest and widest part of the tong half, about 10mm from the mark where the taper ends I now drill a small pilot hole and push a 10 mm drift through the pivot, the pilot hole makes it easier to get the drift in the middle.

Below: pilot holes drilled, jaws slit with an angle grinder and corners rounded on the grinder.



If you struggle with rivets like me it can be useful to drill the drifted hole again with a drill bit slightly smaller than the rivet diameter, this will make it easy to insert the hot rivet.

Now rivet the tongs together, if you move the thongs while the rivet is still hot this will allow them to open and close.


Obviously, the reigns and jaws are now not above each other, just heat them up, and clamp in a vise and with bending forks or tongs tweak them till they are.

The more time you spend adjusting and straightening the nicer your tongs will grip and turn material, so I spend a bit of time here.

Below: a few pictures of bending and tweaking the jaws to line up and close.





And voila! Your tongs are done, and ready to grip everything your fingers can’t


I hope I have inspired someone to give these tongs a try, and if there are any questions or requests for clarification please feel free to ask.

-Pieter-Paul Derks-


Edited by pieter-pauld
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Interesting I will reference this when I start making mine.  What are you using for rivets? Did you cut a chunk of steel off for them?  

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Nice tutorial, another way to skin that cat for sure, thank you...........................B)

If ya can't be good don't git caught  !!                                        People who say stuff can't be done need to

                                                                                                        git the hell outta the way of people who do stuff   !!!

Show me a man who is called an expert by his peers         

And I will show you a good man to listen to ......

Show me a man who calls himself an expert

and I will show you an egotistical asshole...............!!



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On 10/8/2018 at 8:03 PM, Alan Longmire said:

Excellent!  Consider it pinned. 

Thanks for the pin Alan!

On 10/8/2018 at 8:06 PM, AndyB said:

Interesting I will reference this when I start making mine.  What are you using for rivets? Did you cut a chunk of steel off for them?  

For rivets I cut off a piece of normal steel round bar. 

I would like to use commercial rivets one day, but I´ve never really felt the need to buy a box. 

Actual rivets with one head already formed would probably give a neater end result.

22 hours ago, Clifford Brewer said:

Nice tutorial, another way to skin that cat for sure, thank you...........................B)


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  • 5 months later...

Please do not let this go away I can't wait to try this out.  I have given up on many tongs because I get something backwards and then fling them into the deep hole at the back of property.  LOL

Thanks for taking the time to document the making.


aka Bob

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