Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If you can't hold it, you can't hit it

Along the blacksmithing path I’ve picked up a lot of conventional wisdom dropped by other persons.  I think I heard the title phrase from Francis Whitaker, but I’m not certain.  The point is, to do the best work it is necessary to have good control of the workpiece.  Select the tongs which give the best grip.  I know this rule well but recently got a reminder lesson when I was in a hurry drawing out a short piece of 1/4” x 1.5” flat bar the hard way.  The box jaw tongs I picked would hold the bar nicely for working the easy way but when turned sideways there was enough wobble to let the piece flip loose.

I had a flash of feeling foolish which reminded me of the children’s song, “Found a peanut - It was rotten - Ate it anyway”.  I could see right away I didn’t have secure control but continued when I knew better.  This is another example of “good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.”

The hurry-up nature of the work was of my own manufacturing rather than some actual schedule issue so I laid that work aside until I had time to make a couple of pairs of full box tongs which were designed specifically for that stock.  This is going to be a short run of work so I didn’t bother to do a really nice job on the tongs. 

I keep a bucket of tong pair blanks with everything forged except the jaws and they are not riveted but just wired together. They were made at a demonstration over two days several years ago. Originally there were probably 20 pairs but I’m down to about a half dozen now.

I forged the needed box jaws from two pieces of angle and MIG welded them onto the tong blanks with an offset.  I made two pair so I could use one and my assistant, Ken, could use the other.  They are not really pretty but will get the job done.  It seems like I have quite an accumulation of this sort of specialized tongs which have only been used a few times and may never be used again - but you never know.

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