You don't need to temper and harden tongs, unless they are more piercing
I'm making some tongs at the moment, two different methods, one method
the Weygers method, and another is the one from the TAFE course I'm doing.
I get to make hardie tools also, basically the blacksmith gets to make
his own tools.
If you really must heat treat your tongs, it depends on the metal you're
using to make the tongs. If it's a low carbon steel, maybe you can case
harden them, if it's a medium to high carbon steel them an oil quench is
recommended (even if it is a water hardening or air hardening steel).
Tempering again depends on the application and metal, if the metal is to
have a cutting application and it's a spring steel then a full blue is
nice, if it's a low carbon steel that has been case hardened don't
So my question is what application are the tongs being made for, and
what metal are you using.
Btw the tongs I'm making at the moment are for my smithing work, are
made from mild steel, and I don't plan to heat treat them at all :-)
P.S. OMG another Charles blacksmith! Oh the humanity... the humanity
When you say "bury in ashes", you are talking about annealing.
When you say "liquid quench" you are talking about hardening.
Tempering is a process applied after hardening to remove some
predictable amount of the brittleness of hardenable steels.
So: I recommend you don't do anything special to them at all.
The problem with tongs is that you will often be heating them pretty
hot when in use. Chain tongs come to mind in particular, since they get
right into the fire. And often, when doing a lot of work, the tong
reins get hot enough so you stick them in the slack tub, bits first to
cool them off. So, hardening or tempering them generally won't buy
you much anyway.
If you use mild steel, it won't harden appreciably anyway. You just
let them cool in air after forging.
Some people make their tongs from alloy steels such a OCS (Old Car
Spring). In that case, I don't think they try to harden and temper
them either. Even if you did harden them, they would probably loose
hardness from the quenching they receive in use.
Pete, I sometimes find that I quench the whole tongs, and sometimes
they get to the red hot stage when working with small objects or odd
shapes that I don't want to take the tongs off as they are hard to grab
again. I doubt that any heat treating would last very long for working
If you do a search on "super quench" you will find that you can harden
mild steel these days. (If you can't find it, I'll post the recipe:)
What you say, where did I get such rubbish?? Ok in the past mild steel
was just that, mild and low carbon. But today, its made from lots of
scrap steel, including springs and old tools, so it can be low to
medium carbon. I have hardened mild before - I have a cutoff hardy
made from mild angle, that I Super Quenched, that cuts quite well. Yes
I found the directions on the net.
That said, if the mild steel is quenched in plain water, you are right
it won't get very hard. So for tongs, of which I've made a few pairs,
I don't worry about hardening, tempering or for that matter what
happens when I quench them.
As to the use of OCS, well why not, but I would be concerned about the
effect if I quenched the tong.
"Some people make their tongs from alloy steels such a OCS (Old Car
Actually they should get harder from quenching, and softer from being
heated while used (ie a form of unintentional tempering).
So back to Charles question. Don't worry about heat treating of
working tongs, particularly if made from mild steel, it won't last,
just learn to make and modify them. By the way i use whatever mild
steel I can find - hot or cold rolled, it don't matter to me.
Rob Gunter says that he can harden 1018 using his super quench, by the way.
IMHO any mild steel tongs hardened with super quench aren't going to
stay hard long if heated, anyway. I see super quench as a method to be
used for cold work tools.
Just to clear the air, I don't harden any of my tongs. Sorry if I
left the wrong impression.
Since tongs get HOT during use, go with normalizing after forging. I make mine
out of plain old hot roll rod. Tongs are considered an expendable tool, so you
make lots of them as the years go by. Normalize by heating to cherry red and
allow to cool in still air. Hot roll is usually 1025 or thereabouts, not very
hardenable. This turns out to be a good thing, as tongs get dipped in the slack
bucket a lot to dump the heat out of the handles between usages. Here's a quick
trick... to forge the falt for the hinge, heat up the rod and lay it over the
corner of the anvil and whack the crap out of it, then do it again on the other
corner to form an 'hourglass' shaped flat. This will give you the opening
clearance when you assemble the two legs of the tong. Drill a hole in both legs,
put in a handy 5/16ths bolt, add a nut, then peen over the end of the bolt so
the nut won't ever come off... tongs.
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