A Buyer's Guide To Fireplace Tools
As you suddenly begin describing autumn's crisp weather as "chilly," you will no doubt begin to encounter the telltale sign that winter has officially arrived: People are finally marking the season by using their fireplaces.
Under ideal circumstances, the stacked, crackling logs you arrange in your fireplace as you follow suit will remain in place and smolder into a centrally located pile, easily removed with a dust buster. However, when your cozy fireplace experience takes a natural progression of enjoyable moments, as well as occasionally unexpected surprises, those fireplace tools act as your saving grace.
Are Tools Really Necessary?
If you own a fireplace, fireplace tools are about as necessary as cooking utensils.
You could possibly, somehow manage to come out unscathed by throwing a steak onto a cast iron skillet, carefully flipping it in the air and later sliding it onto your plate. However, there are a ton of reasons to avoid this, all leading to potential injury and accidentally lighting significant items on fire – like your home.
For the same reason you use pot holders, a spatula, a fork and so forth, you need a set of fireplace tools. The breakdown:
- Tools help you change the placement of the logs without injury
- Tools facilitate necessary clean up
Which Tools Are Absolutely Essential?
You will find a wide array of tools that are in some way applicable to your fireplace, but it is that traditional 5-piece set of a poker, tongs, broom and dust pan (typically resting in a stand) that covers all bases. Get to know the function of each tool for a better understanding of how these tools best serve you:
- Poker: Rather than reaching your hand into that red-hot fire when the top log looks like it's about to topple over, that metal poker acts as a telescoping finger to reach in and make minor adjustments.
- Tongs: You didn't get to the log in time. It toppled over and is threatening to roll out of the fireplace. Those tongs act as a “helpful hand” to get the fiery log placed safely back within the confines of the fireplace.
- Broom: The ashes did not settle into an easy to clean pile but scattered everywhere. Time to sweep.
- Dust Pan: Easy removal of the collected ashes means a tidy fireplace ready for its next use.
- Stand: It would be incredibly messy and visually awkward to leave those tools piled up in the corner.
How Do I Choose Tools That Match My Décor?
All sets of fireplace tools will look rather similar, so creating an accidental eyesore is highly unlikely. However, like most home accessories, the fireplace tool world is your playground. Consider your décor and choose details that blend well with the rest of your space.
TIPS: A simple rule of thumb is matching your fireplace tools to the hardware in the majority of your home (think handles and knobs on kitchen cabinets and living room furniture).
- Contemporary: You probably have something along the lines of sleek, simple, stainless steel hardware. Opt for the same in your fireplace tools.
- Traditional: Your hardware is more along the lines of a heavier, substantial metal, such as wrought iron. Consider classic, ornate detailing.
- Eclectic: Your hardware is mismatched, collected from various trips; offers a retro-inspired vibe; or is simply slightly unconventional. Look for something that will end up becoming a conversation starter.
Do I Need An Entire Set?
Not necessarily. Maybe you're burning one log at a time and the tongs just don't feel like something you're going to need. And that stand? You already have hooks that would be perfect for fireplace tools.
In that case, downsize to a 3-piece set instead or choose individual tools as needed. Just remember to cover all of your needs so you're safe throughout the colder months.
Is There Anything Else I Need?
You're going to need a fireplace rack, also referred to as a grate. Rather than placing the logs on the floor of the fireplace, this metal structure holds the logs up and keeps them in place so you can easily light your fire. And if you have children or pets, you will certainly need to pick up a fireplace screen to protect your little loved ones from danger.
Which Less Essential Tools Make For A More Enjoyable Fireplace Experience?
Not quite essential — but certainly enjoyable — are tools that make sitting by the fire feel safer or more unique. If the idea of poking at a hot fire with a metal stick still doesn't give you an acceptably safe feeling, consider a pair of fireplace gloves and a glove drying tree so they're always handy (and so you can dry your gloves and mittens by the fire in the meantime). Or, to keep that fire burning without having to make a run for firewood, keep a log rack near the fireplace for easy access so that fire can burn well into the wee hours.
The world of fireplace accessories is full of interesting options, but starting with the essential tools first creates a foundation for a safe, warm winter and happy holiday seasons for years to come.