Published: May 28, 2017 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Tongs Mean?

Tongs are high-torque, locking pipe wrenches used to make up and break out sections of drill string pipe. Two sets of tongs are required to tighten or loosen the pipe. They are used in the same way that a plumber uses two pipe wrenches, turned in opposing directions, to tighten or loosen household piping.

Tongs are also referred to as make up tongs and breakout tongs.

Trenchlesspedia Explains Tongs

There are two categories of tongs used in trenchless construction which include breakout tongs and makeup tongs. Tongs, in general, are purposed in the same way, but there are separate sets of tongs used for break out and make up work. Breakout tongs are used in break out activities such as in the removal of pipe and assemblies from the drill string. They’re manually operated and secured to the rig by chain or cable. Makeup tongs are used in make up operations such as those involving adding pipe or assemblies to the drill string. Makeup tongs, however, are operated with a cathead, a spool at the drillers station, engaged with a clutch and attached to the makeup tongs with a chain. The cathead turns the makeup tongs to provide a secure connection.


Makeup Tongs

Breakout Tongs

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