How to Use Fireplace Tools: A Beginner’s Guide

fireplace tools

If your new to owning or using a fireplace these helpful tips for handling fireplace tools will hopefully help you get your fire going quickly.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose”. These are signs that it is usually time to build a fire to warm your home, your family, the setting of a warm atmosphere. If you are new to starting a fire in your fireplace or wood burning stove, you might wonder what tools you need and how to use them.

You should have five standard tools on your hearth.

  • Brush – this has bristles and looks like a miniature broom. Used for cleaning.
  • Poker – usually the longest of the tools, this has a sharp, pointy end used for poking and moving logs as needed.
  • Tongs – this tool looks like a very large pair of tweezers or kitchen tongs. Great for putting new logs on the fire.
  • Shovel – fireplace shovels should not have a spade end but should be straight edged. Used for cleaning and removing ashes.
  • Ash bucket – this can be any metal can or bucket that can hold at least 1 gallon. Recycle a large coffee or paint can or find a decorative can from a home design shop.

Start with a clean fireplace or stove.

Open the damper. A damper is a metal plate that opens your chimney to permit smoke to escape. You should leave this closed when the fireplace or stove is not in use but you must open it before starting a fire.

Crumple newspaper and put in your fireplace, on a grate if you have one. Top with kindling strips in 3 or 4 layers from the diameter of your pinky to diameter of your wrist. Top with 2 to 4 pieces of firewood.

Light paper. Once the first layer of firewood has ignited, add another layer, criss-crossed in the opposite direction of lower logs, using tongs.

Occasionally, you will see that all the wood is burning in one part of the fireplace while another section of wood is not. Use your poker to nudge the unburned wood toward the hot spot.

Clean the inside of your fireplace when ash has built up and at the end of each season. Use the brush to get ash from cracks and crevices as well as to sweep ashes into the shovel to be disposed of. Let ashes sit for a few hours to cool before disposing if you’ve had a fire in the past 72 hours. Ashes can stay hot for up to 72 hours and can cause a fire.

There are two major factors that every fireplace owner should consider when purchasing fireplace accessories. These are style and convenience. When buying accessories, the style should be put into consideration since it needs to blend well with the design and appearance of the fireplace. Convenience is another way of determining if certain accessories should be purchased. Without taking convenience into account, no matter how fashionable the accessories are, they would still be of insignificant value.

Fireplace match holders used to be made of an assortment of materials like oak, wrought iron, brass and copper. These holders are available in different designs and in varying prices. Match holders provide users with easy access to matches.

One of the oldest and the most frequently used fireplace accessories, damper pulls are used to open and close a fireplace damper. Typically measuring about a foot long, a damper pull is made of brass and has a hook on one end, which makes closing the damper easy. The damper pull can be hung from the fireplace stand, mantle or wall whenever the fireplace is not in use.

Fireplace grates are another commonly used accessories used in fireplaces. They are probably the most essential of all fireplace accessories. When installed correctly, a grate provides better protection to the fireplace floor. If fireplace grates are not installed, it would cause the floor to become very hot, thus causing it to become damaged. The fireplace grate is intended to decrease the amount of heat that reaches the floor and it also causes the word to burn better. Since the wood is situated above the floor, the air underneath it is at a higher temperature, thus making the wood burn more efficiently. In addition, fireplace grates hold the wood in place so cleaning up is made easier.

Fireplace screens are another type of accessories used in fireplaces. Fireplace screens started as a form of furniture that protected the occupant of a room from the fireplace. Their main task is to lessen the discomfort of extreme heat that radiated from the fire. Fireplace screens nowadays have become ornamental protections against flames and flying embers. They are typically made of copper, glass, chrome, brass, pewter and iron. Fireplace screens also prevent pets from getting injured when venturing too close to the fireplace.

Andiron are horizontal iron bars where logs are laid on for burning in an open fireplace. They stand upon short legs and are typically linked with an upright guard, which may be made of steel, iron, bronze, copper, or even silver. Andirons are often richly adorned with conservative patterns or heraldic ornaments.

A fireback is a thick iron plate located at the back of a hearth. It is placed against the back of the wall of the hearth. It shields the wall and reflects the heat of the fire toward the room. A cast iron fireback is still the best way to shield a hearth’s back wall from damage. It efficiently protects the back wall from any further damage.

A fireplace poker is a short and rigid rod used to arrange coals and adjust wood fuel burning in a fireplace. Also known as a stoker, it is often made of a metallic material and is pointed at one end. The pointed end is used to push the burning materials. There are three kinds of tools frequently used to tend a small fire: the spade, the tongs and the poker itself. These implements make handling a fire without hazardous consequences a possibility.