10 Best Fireplace Tool Sets | March 2017
- permanently bonded handles
- tongs have solid rivets and never rattle
- black finish gets scratched off easily
- stand is very stable and level
- no screw-together parts to come loose
- broom's bristles fall off easily
- simple and quick to assemble
- hammered steel finish look
- tools are a bit too short
- stands a striking 29" tall
- strong iron will not rust
- tools have solid one-piece construction
- sturdy stand provides convenient storage
- long enough to keep you away from heat
- wide brush makes cleaning go quicker
- brushed bronze finish
- powder coated steel construction
- stand is very sturdy
- angled brush for easy sweeping
- scissor-like tongs are simple to use
- high quality german design
Form and Function: Choosing The Right Fireplace Tools
There are few items in the home that play a role so equally balanced between appearance and functionality as the fireplace tools perched by the hearth. In the late spring, summer, and the early fall, the set will sit untouched if not even put away and out of sight until the cold returns. During the late autumn and throughout the winter, however, many homes see their tongs, poker, shovel, and ash brush used daily.
This presents something of a dilemma for many consumers. Decorative items are picked, by definition, based on how they look; tools are generally selected with little or no thought of appearance, but rather based on how well they help complete specific tasks.
Even if you think your home will only have a few fires a season, safety and convenience still merit the owning of a good set of fireplace tools. This means, at the minimum, owning a reliable pair of fireplace tongs as you must have a way to move around burning logs. In most cases your fireplace accessories should involve a more complete set comprised of tongs, a poker, a brush, and a shovel. A stand will also come included in any set worth considering.
In an ironic twist, tools selected primarily for their looks may well be those that lose their aesthetic appeal the most quickly and completely: a set of shiny brass hearth accessories will look lovely for a season or longer, but will eventually take on a tarnished patina as the metal's luster fades. Some people may love the antique look of aged brass, but many will bemoan how dramatically the appearance of their fireplace tools has changed over time. Copper lacks the bright shine of polished metals, so the change in its appearance that aging brings is more subtle, but it too will darken and take on new coloration with time. Again, the look of aged copper will be adored by some, lamented by others. And of course the more heavily used a given tool is, the more quickly it will age based on the oils on skin, the exposure to ash, soot, and heat, and the more frequent cleaning necessitated by more frequent use.
Wrought iron, on the other hand, will never change its color or appearance even with age or use, provided you take the time to clean its surface on occasion, preventing rust. The continuity of appearance and the simple strength of this trusted metal has long established its place as the standard-bearer for use in making fireplace tools.
If you will likely use your tools as often as you admire their appearance, it is best to consider a set made from iron (or a black powder-coated set made from another material but that offers the same appearance and resistance to corrosion). If you are selecting fireplace tools primarily for their looks, then another metal should serve well for several years at least, especially if they will be stored away in most seasons.
Proper Fireplace Cleaning
As with fireplace tools, so too with the fireplace itself: looks and function are not cleanly related. In fact, while a perfectly clean fireplace may be ideal for staging a home prior to sale or sprucing it up prior to an open house, that spic and span fireplace might not work well when it's time to have an actual fire.
A clean, ash-free fireplace looks great, but it actually won't serve you as well as a fireplace with a bed of old ashes. When you have an inch or two of ash built up under the grate holding the logs and kindling, the falling embers have a ready-made bed into which they can settle. This helps these first embers burn more slowly and steadily, creating a base of heat that will lead to a more evenly-burning and less smoky fire.
But of course ashes pile up quickly if you have regular fires, and they must be removed from time to time; the same goes for those old partially-burnt chunks of log left behind after previous fires. To clean a fireplace for regular maintenance, first remove the grate and any large pieces of charred debris (these should be discarded unless there is still clearly useful wood visible). Then use the shovel and broom that came with your fireplace tool set to remove most of the ash, spreading a thin layer underneath the area where the grate sits. For heavily-used fireplaces, burn a creosote sweeping log several times during the season while the firebox (the actual area where a fire is set) is relatively clean.
Unless you need a remarkably clean hearth for purposes of staging, that is all you need to do to clean the fireplace. To clean the soot and grime off of the bricks (or tile or metal) inside the firebox, consider a mixture of warm water and baking soda, or buy a purpose-built cleaning product, and use a stiff brush.
Other Fireplace Accessories Worth Consideration
With a good set of fireplace tools, you will be ready to set, maintain, and clean up after fires all season long. But that doesn't mean your enjoyment of that fireplace can't be made even easier and more convenient with a few other fine implements.
An ash vacuum might seem a luxury at first, but these powerful devices can save you so much time during a deep cleaning of the firebox that after a season of regular fires, you will wonder how you ever lived without one. Many can even be safely used when there are still hot embers in the fireplace, but be sure to fully read through the safety instructions that come with the device.
A cloth log carrier allows you to safely and cleanly carry more wood than you could hope to do with your arms alone, and a wood rack perched near the fireplace makes it easier to keep feeding logs into the flames and also keeps the mess caused by wood debris in one specific area.
Finally, if you have children in the home, consider installing a hearth guard on the edge of the stone or brick that lines the fireplace. This will prevent potentially serious bumps or scrapes caused by the hard corners, and can prevent burns as well.