NJBA Tong Making Meet April 2,3 2005

Report by Bruce Freeman
Marshall ran the workshop with Larry Brown, Tom Majewski, David Macauley and Bruce Freeman helping out for all or parts of the two-day event. Everyone was given a handout that showed an overview of how to make tongs, and doubled as paper for taking notes. Marshall had also prepared a board showing the steps of tongs-making. Bruce gave a demo on starting a coal fire for the benefit of a couple novices. Next we cut the 1/2" square stock to 18" - a job of a few minutes on Marshall's ironworker. Marshall then did a demonstration of the basics of making one half a pair of tongs, to match another half he'd made before the workshop. Then the participants were turned loose to try it themselves, which they did with varying degrees of success.

In the afternoon, Marshall continued the demonstration , by punching the two halves and riveting them together. He showed how to work the riveted tongs and adjust the jaws and reins. Following this, the participants again worked on their own tongs.

Marshall and the helpers circulated to provide assistance where needed. Sunday, the fires were started and the participants continued from where they had left off on Saturday. Marshall demonstrated how to make a box tongs in the morning and how to make tongs that could be a bolt, round or vee tongs in the afternoon by showing how to isolate a mass at the end of the tongs then forming the rest of the tongs.

Progress was slower than we'd expected, but the participants were a persistent lot and kept at it manfully. Probably every mistake that could be made was made, but by the end of the session, everyone had at least the two halves of the tongs, if not a completed pair.

Special thanks to Marshall Bienstock for use of shop and tools in addition to giving the workshop; to John Chobrda for use of his forge and tools; and to Tom Eden for towing John's trailer to Marshall's.
Pictures by Tom Majewski