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close this bookBasic Techiques of Blacksmithing: A Manual for Trainers (Peace Corps, 1982, 102 p.)
close this folderDay 6
View the documentSession: 18. Forging straight tongs
View the documentSession: 19. Program evaluation
View the documentSession: 20. Open workshop/clean-up

Session: 18. Forging straight tongs

Total Time: 4 hours


* To identify different types of tongs and their uses
* To make a pair of blacksmith's straight tongs
* To make a rivet using a heading plate
* To discuss techniques for modifying the straight tongs into specialized tongs
* To identify other types of tools which may be made using the basic tong procedure


* Attachment 18-A, "Tools for Many Trades"
* Weygers, pages 65-66
* Andrews, pages 82-84

Materials: Variety of blacksmith's tongs for display; four 12"-14" lengths of 1/2" or 5/8" round bar (mild steel) per participant for practice; two 12" lengths of 1/2" or 5/8" round bar (mild or high carbon) per participant; one 1" length of 1/4" rivet per participant.


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Explain the session objectives and draw the group's attention to the display of tongs.

Step 2. (5 minutes)
Select a pair of straight tongs and ask participants to identify the components/parts of the tool.

Trainer Notes

* The jaws, handles, shoulder, offset bend, and hinge-pin should be mentioned.

* Explain that tongs may be made in several acceptable ways and that today they will experiment with one.

Step 3. (10 minutes)
Have the group explore the assortment of tongs and discuss the uses of each type.

Trainer Notes

* Have participants refer back to previous sessions and describe how they used some of the tongs during forging activities.

* Stress the relationship between the specific jaw shapes and the size and shape of materials they are meant to hold.

* Explain the variety of steels which may be used in tong-making and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

* Invite participants to experiment picking up and holding various round and square bars with different tongs.

Step 4. (15 minutes)
Demonstrate how to form the jaws and shoulder (hinge facet) of the tongs.

Trainer Notes

* Emphasize the following aspects as you work:

- forming of jaws
- setting of shoulder
- forming of shoulder
- drawing out of handles
- making both blanks identical

* During the demonstration, repeat your motions several times.

* Ask the group if they have any questions before working on their own.

Step 5. (60 minutes)
Have participants practice forming jaws and shoulders using the 10" lengths of bar.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that two of the bars are provided for practice only and that they will be using the other bars to make the tongs.

* Have the group practice the jaws and shoulders over and over again.

* Move around the stations, and assist participants who are having difficulty with the new techniques.

Step 6. (20 minutes)
When the participants feel they have practiced enough, have them form jaws and shoulders on the other lengths of bar which will be further worked into tongs.

Step 7. (15 minutes)
Demonstrate punching the shoulder, making the rivet, and riveting the tongs.

Trainer Notes

Emphasize how to avoid damaging the already finished shoulder.

Step 8. (40 minutes)
Ask the group to punch, make the rivets, and rivet their tongs.

Step 9. (25 minutes)
Demonstrate how to align the jaws and adjust handles for use as straight tongs, and have participants do the same to complete their tongs.

Step 10. (15 minutes)
Discuss the various specialized tongs which can be formed by reshaping the jaws of the straight tongs. Demonstrate one or more types.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that no time is available right now for participants to experiment with different types of tong jaws, but that they may do so during open shop in the afternoon.

* Encourage questions during the discussion.

Step 11. (10 minutes)
Ask participants to identify other tools which could be formed using the basic tong forging procedure.

Trainer Notes

* Ask the group to think of other riveted tools (e.g., pliers, clippers, nippers, snips, etc.).

* Briefly mention any significant deviations from the procedure where applicable.

* Explain steel grade requirements for the tools identified.

Step 12. (15 minutes)
Have participants share any difficulties encountered while forging the tongs and ask for volunteers from the group to explain or demonstrate how they might be avoided/corrected.

Step 13. (5 minutes)
Distribute Attachment 18A, "Tools for Many Trades" and discuss the illustrations briefly with the group.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the tools illustrated on the page are only a few of the many and varied pieces which can be crafted by a skilled blacksmith.

Attachment 18-A


Tools for many trades

Session: 19. Program evaluation

Total Time: 2 hours

Object yes:

* To evaluate the effectiveness of the training program
* To identify ways in which future blacksmith training programs can be improved

Materials: Newsprint and felt-tip pens


Step 1. (10 minute;)
Review and explain the session objectives.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that evaluation through feedback from participants can serve as the basis for improving future blacksmith training programs.

Step 2. (25 minutes)
Have the participants divide into groups of 3 or 4 and record on newsprint their observations regarding the effectiveness of the training program.

Trainer Notes

* Ask that each group list three aspects of the program which were particularly effective and three aspects which were particularly ineffective.

* For each ineffective aspect of the program, ask that participants suggest ways in which it could be improved.

* Encourage participants to be as specific as possible and to consider all aspects of the program (i.e., sequence of sessions, content of sessions, trainer techniques, etc.).

* If possible, the trainers should join the small groups and participate in the activity.

* While the small groups are working, arrange chairs in a semicircle at the front of the room so that three people can face and speak to one another while reading the posted observations and suggestions. Arrange a second row of chairs around the first three. The configuration should look like this:

How to arrange chairs

* Approximately five minutes before the end of the time allotted for this step, circulate among the groups, remind them of the time remaining and ask that they post their observations and suggestions when they are finished.

Step 3. (10 minutes)
Have the group reconvene and occupy the chairs the outer semi-circle. Explain the "Fishbowl" activity.

Trainer Notes

* Ask if anyone has had experience with this activity. If so, ask them to help you with the explanation. Your explanation should include the following points:

- Only three people at a time will be in the inner semi-circle,
- The role of each of the three people will be to discuss and respond to the posted observations and examine the feasibility of the suggestions.
- The role of those in the outer semi-circle will be to observe and listen without speaking.
- When someone from the outer circle wants to enter the discussion, a person from the discussion group should leave and join the observers.

* The reason for using the fishbowl structure is to provide a comfortable format for discussion and to encourage constructive feedback and suggestions. Therefore, it is important that people feel free to express their thoughts without fear of reprisal. People should be encouraged to enter the discussion and to exchange places with one another when they have something to say. It is a good idea to have at least one member of the training staff in the discussion group at all times.

Step 4. (10 minutes)
Just before the discussion, ask one of the participants to scan the lists and point out any commonalities and parallels among the observations.

Trainer Notes

* This quick identification will help provide order and avoid repetition once the discussion begins.

Step 5. (50 minutes)
Ask that three volunteers move to the inner semicircle and initiate the activity by responding to one of the observations.

Step 6. (10 minutes)
Summarize the observations and suggestions for improvement that resulted from the fishbowl discussion.

Trainer Notes

* Stress those observations which seem most generally agreed upon by the group and most feasible in terms of future implementation.

Step 7. (5 minutes)
Thank the group for their participation in this activity.

Trainer Notes

* Briefly mention that the remaining two hours of the day will be devoted to an open workshop period and a general shop clean-up.

Session: 20. Open workshop/clean-up

Total Time: 2 hours


* To finish incomplete projects
* To review and practice basic blacksmithing skills
* To practice new blacksmithing skills of special interest
* To clean up the workshop area

Materials: Brushes, brooms, rakes, shovels, buckets, assorted scrap steel, round bar, leaf springs, sheet metal, coil springs, etc.

Trainer Notes

* In this session, participants should be provided with access to all available workshop tools and stock.

* Some preparation may be necessary to effectively carry out Step 4 (see Trainer Notes).


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Briefly explain the purpose and procedures of the open workshop period.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the purpose of the open workshop is to provide participants with opportunities to:

- complete any unfinished projects
- practice techniques which they find difficult to apply, or do not fully understand
- refine techniques
- forge a tool or piece of hardware of special interest

* Mention that the last thirty minutes of this session will be used to clean up the workshop area.

Step 2. (1 hour, 20 minutes)
Have the participants work independently at their forges to finish projects or practice skills of their choice.

Trainer Notes

* Circulate among the work stations. Help to locate materials. Offer assistance whenever necessary, being careful not to intervene to the point of inhibiting the freedom of experimentation and/or independent problem-solving.

* For those participants experiencing particular difficulty with certain techniques, it may be useful to repeat some of the basic demonstrations done earlier in the training.

* Any additional or special interest forging techniques can also be demonstrated at this time.

Step 3. (30 minutes)
Ask participants to assist in cleaning up the workshop area.

Trainer Notes

In order to complete the clean-up efficiently and cooperatively, all participants and trainers should participate.

Step 4. (5 minutes)
Thank the group for their participation and cooperation throughout the program.

Trainer Notes

In consideration of the strenuousness and intensity of the training program, it is recommended that a party be held immediately following the shop clean-up. Defining specific objectives, times, resources, and procedures for the party activity should be left to the discretion of participants and trainers.