When it comes to bladesmithing, having the right tools is essential for achieving precision and control in the forging process. One such tool that plays a crucial role in bladesmithing is the tongs. Tongs are specialized gripping tools that allow bladesmiths to securely hold hot pieces of metal while working on them. In this article, we will explore the different types of tongs used in bladesmithing and discuss the most essential tongs that a new bladesmith should start with.
Types of Tongs for Bladesmithing
There are various types of tongs available for bladesmithing, each designed to hold specific shapes and sizes of metal. Here are some commonly used types of tongs:
- Flat Jaw Tongs: Flat jaw tongs are the most versatile and commonly used tongs in bladesmithing. They have flat, smooth jaws that provide a secure grip on flat or rectangular stock. Flat jaw tongs are suitable for holding knife blades, bar stock, and other flat metal pieces.
- V-Bit Tongs: V-bit tongs, also known as wolf jaw tongs, have V-shaped jaws that provide a firm grip on round or cylindrical stock. The V-shaped design prevents the stock from rotating, making it ideal for holding round knife handles or other cylindrical metal pieces.
- Bolt Jaw Tongs: Bolt jaw tongs feature ridges or teeth on the jaws, allowing them to securely grip irregularly shaped or textured stock. They are commonly used for holding items such as textured knife blanks or pieces with decorative features.
- Box Jaw Tongs: Box jaw tongs have square or rectangular jaws with a wider opening, providing a strong grip on thick stock. They are suitable for holding larger pieces of metal during forging or shaping.
- Scroll Tongs: Scroll tongs have jaws with a curved or scroll-like shape. They are specifically designed for holding stock while creating decorative scrolls or twists in the metal.
What are the Most Essential Tongs for a New Bladesmith?
For a new bladesmith just starting out, it’s important to have a set of tongs that can handle a variety of tasks. Here are the most essential tongs that a new bladesmith should consider acquiring:
- Flat Jaw Tongs: Flat jaw tongs are a must-have for any bladesmith. They provide a secure grip on flat stock, which is commonly used for making knife blades. Flat jaw tongs are versatile and suitable for a wide range of bladesmithing projects.
- V-Bit Tongs: V-bit tongs are essential for holding round or cylindrical stock, such as knife handles or small metal rods. They offer a firm grip and prevent the stock from rotating during forging or shaping.
- Bolt Jaw Tongs: Bolt jaw tongs are valuable for holding textured or irregularly shaped stock. They allow bladesmiths to securely grip and manipulate pieces with unique surface features or designs.
- Box Jaw Tongs: While box jaw tongs may not be as versatile as other types, they are useful for holding larger pieces of metal. If a new bladesmith anticipates working with thicker stock or larger projects, having box jaw tongs will be beneficial for providing a strong grip and stability during forging or shaping processes.It’s worth noting that as a new bladesmith, starting with these essential tongs will give you a solid foundation for your work. However, as you gain more experience and expand your repertoire, you may find it necessary to acquire additional specialized tongs to accommodate specific tasks or projects. For example, scroll tongs are valuable for creating decorative elements in your blades or other metalwork.
When selecting tongs, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, prioritize tongs made from high-quality materials, such as carbon or tool steel, which can withstand the high temperatures and stresses of bladesmithing. Ensure that the jaws of the tongs provide a secure grip without excessive play or wobble. Ergonomics is also important, as tongs should have comfortable handles that allow for a firm grip and control during use.
Lastly, it’s crucial to regularly maintain and inspect your tongs. Over time, the jaws may wear out or become misaligned, compromising their effectiveness. Keep the tongs clean and free from debris, and periodically check for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Proper care and maintenance will prolong the lifespan of your tongs and ensure their reliable performance.
In conclusion, tongs are indispensable tools for bladesmiths, enabling them to safely hold and manipulate hot metal during the forging and shaping process. The selection of tongs depends on the specific needs of the project, with flat jaw tongs, V-bit tongs, bolt jaw tongs, and box jaw tongs being some of the most essential types for a new bladesmith. Investing in high-quality tongs made from durable materials will provide longevity and reliability in your bladesmithing journey. As you gain experience, you can expand your collection to include specialized tongs that cater to specific tasks or projects. Remember to prioritize comfort, grip, and maintenance to ensure optimal performance from your tongs.