Tongs are used for gripping and lifting tools, of which there are many forms adapted to their specific use. Some are merely large pincers or nippers, but the greatest number fall into three classes:
- Tongs which have long arms terminating in small flat circular ends of tongs and are pivoted close to the handle, as in the common fire-tongs, used for picking up pieces of coal and placing them on a fire.
- Tongs consisting of a single band of metal bent round one or two bands joined at the head by a spring, as in sugar-tongs (a pair of usually silver tongs with claw-shaped or spoon-shaped ends for serving lump sugar), asparagus-tongs and the like.
- Tongs in which the pivot or joint is placed close to the gripping ends, such as a driller's round tongs, blacksmith's tongs or crucible-tongs.