Makeup and Breakout: Everything You Need to Know about Tubing Tongs

Tubing tongs may have a simple design compared to other types of drilling equipment, but don’t let that fool you—they are powerful and essential tools that provide critical support to drilling operations on a daily basis.

Essentially, tubing tongs provide stability and allow workers to better handle tubular components. All drilling operations should be equipped with specialized tubing tongs appropriate for the size of equipment and scope of the work onsite.

While the tools are functionally identical, drilling sites typically have designated tongs for makeup and breakout. Makeup tongs are used to tighten joints and components of the drill string to keep them secure once they are active. Breakout tongs, on the other hand, are used for loosening operations when pieces or components need to be unscrewed or detached from the string.

The Basics of Tubing Tong Design

Tongs look and function much like ordinary wrenches, although there are several design considerations to account for the extreme forces involved such as:

  • Wrap-around design provides approximately 300 degrees die contact, preventing the tubing’s thin wall from being crushed or cut.
  • The extended handle facilitates manipulation by workers and maximizes efficiency of applied torque through leverage.
  • The eye of the tongs is made from interlocking sections that close together to form a tight grip on tubulars.
  • Most tongs also have several optional components such as hangers and guides that facilitate connecting the tool to onsite equipment.

Just like opposing wrenches, tubing tongs are used in pairs when handling tubing or other drilling components. The “lead tongs” are connected directly to the derrick, while the second set is handled separately. The two tongs work together to provide enough force to tighten or loosen the component as needed.

Torque Rating and Other Considerations

When it comes to tongs or wrenches, torque is the most important measurement to keep in mind. Tongs used in drilling operations are typically rated for a certain amount of torque, which is the rotational force required to turn an object about its longitudinal axis. From a mathematical perspective, torque is calculated by multiplying applied force by the length of the tong’s handle. This means that force applied at the end of the handle is magnified at the eye, so the people or equipment applying the force expend less energy to accomplish the same task.

Many types of rig tongs can also be fitted with dies, which provide a specialized surface on the interior of the eye. They are typically made from extremely durable materials, like alloy steel, designed to resist corrosion and damage. Their rugged surface creates a tighter grip on the pipe while minimizing the risk of damage to drill string components from high levels of gripping or rotational pressure.

Value in Safety and Efficiency

Tongs are essentially levers that magnify applied force when generating torque, which greatly reduces the force needed to perform the operation. This improves efficiency by cutting down on power costs, as well as reducing strain placed on the derrick’s infrastructure. Tongs also make the entire work environment safer by helping workers reliably stabilize and handle the equipment, making basic drilling processes more consistent and controllable.

Emphasize Quality and Dependability

The most important qualities of tubing tongs are strength, reliability and usability. The best designs attempt to address all three of these needs by balancing them according to operators’ needs. Just like many other drilling tools, tongs should only be used for approved torque levels and functions. Operators should also monitor their tongs regularly to ensure they are properly maintained and in good repair before use.

As an established and comprehensive energy tools supplier, Ramey Martin serves drilling operators through quality products and excellent customer service. We currently offer both K-25 and K-30 tubing tongs, with options to include dies as well as rope and hanger guides. K-50 and K-70 tongs will soon be available. As a proud provider of US-made energy tools and equipment, we go the extra mile to make sure our products offer powerful, reliable and effective solutions to our customers. Contact us for a quote today.

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