Purpose of Flat Tongs

It seems like the first tongs that people try to buy when starting out is flat tongs.   I suppose they are assuming flat tongs are for flat stock, and while they're correct, its not that simple.

A better name for flat tongs is Blank Bit tongs. Blank because they have not been formed into a shape that really holds anything...yet.  Although they can grab onto flat stock, they require a temedous amount of force to keep the stock from slipping.   The kind of force needed will make your hand cramp, unless you enjoy chasing the stock around your anvil and floor below.  Using tongs like this is dangerous.  I hear storries of partially forged knives flying around.   I once heard that, while using flat tongs, a blade flew up and sliced the chin of a novice bladesmith.  Although I never saw the damage, i can definietely imagine it happening.

Lets add another wrench into the mix.   There are Flat Open Tongs and Flat Closed Tongs.  Self-explanatory, right?   

Not so much as it begs the following questions:

  • Flat Closed - at what point are they closed?   The very tip or the whole length of the bit? Are they parallel?  
  • Flat Open - How open are they?  At what thickness are they parallel? How far are the reins apart when holding that dimension?

All of the questions above seem to lead me back to the need for flat tongs to be forged into something, or at least sized to fit.

There are only a few instances where flat tongs would be the best option:

  1. you plan to adjust or shape the bits to the stock your using.
  2. nothing else will work - for instance, very wide flat sheet
  3. you havent studied enough to be buying tools yet.


Some of this is obviously opinion and i would like to hear your thoughts?

email me at info@blacksmithsdepot.com

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