If you’re going to have a fireplace, especially a wood-burning one, you need to consider buying some nice fireplace tools to go with you.
Even though they look nice and can add to the decor of your home, the primary purpose is to control the fire.
This means you can grow a small fire with these tools. Or make a fire that’s too big smaller.
Controlling the fire helps with safety and sustainability. An efficient fire means fewer creosote deposits and a smaller chance of potentially fatal chimney fires.
In today’s post, I’ll tell you which tools you’ll need and help guide you through the decision on making a purchase.
Table of Contents
Bellows or Blow Poke
Fireplace tongs will help you move burning logs to help control the fire.
You’ll need a set that will give you a good grip on the wood. But also long enough to touch the logs in a larger fire.
Tongs are the most important tools you’ll need.
Not only will you be able to shift the logs, but you’ll also be able to poke the fire. This will bring in more air to help the fire burn a lot better.
The French Fireplace Tongs
French tongs are interesting because they don’t have a hinge. Instead, they are squeezed together. They are a lot stiffer because of this.
You might have trouble placing new logs in the fire with these tongs. But in theory, you could place new logs in by hand.
Shifting logs won’t be a problem at all with the rigid, stiff French tongs.
I like the French Tongs because they can also double as a poker. I’ve never been to France, but I hear that you’ll rarely see a poker.
The English Fireplace Tongs
I see a lot of English tongs. They have a hinge and are elegantly designed.
These are especially useful with larger fireplaces since they are generally long.
The length and the hinge are important to notice because they give the English tongs some fragility.
Plus, the shafts can cross over each other due to normal wear and that will cause you to lose the grip on the logs. This is not good since dropping a log in embers can cause the embers to go flying in your house.
The Dutch Fireplace Tongs
Dutch tongs also have a hinge, but are actually smaller than the English tongs. They’re also a lot plainer, usually than English tongs.
Many of our customers that use the Dutch tongs appreciate the rustic feel to these.
Even though they have a hinge, the Dutch tong hinges are different than that of the English tongs.
Dutch tongs are less fragile than English tongs and can be used longer.
How to Use the Tongs
You should use your tongs with one hand. Of course, if the logs are too big, you can try with two.
This may take some practice, but with some time, you’ll be one handing the tongs in no time.
It’s important to always keep enough distance from the fire so that you don’t have a chance of getting burned.
I kind of alluded to this in the last section with the tongs, but the purpose of the poker is to poke in the fire to shift the wood.
Shifting wood allows more oxygen to reach the fire and burn better.
Not only will the wood burn better, you’ll have less ash left at the bottom. Plus, you’ll notice that you’ll have less smoke and fewer creosote deposits.
Do You Even Need a Poker?
A fireplace poker is nice to have. But I guess you don’t always need one. And whether you need one depends on which other tools you have.
If you have an English or a Dutch set of tongs, then the hinges may make it harder to poke the fire with the tongs.
So, if you have a set of tongs with a hinge, you need a poker.
On the other hand, if you have a set of French tongs without hinges, then you can skip out on the pokers.
Another reason for poking the fire is to have use of the blow pipe. You use a blow pipe to blow air into the fire and to poke in the fire. I’ll talk more about blowers in a minute.
The English Fire Poker
Just like the English tongs, the English pokers are very beautifully made. They’re also often large.
Usually, English pokers are made from polished steel or polished brass, so they are made very well.
If you prefer an English poker with a sturdy French poker, you’re in luck because these pokers can be purchased separately if you’d prefer.
The Dutch Fire Poker
The Dutch fire poker isn’t as large as the English version. It’s not as elegant, either.
Just like the Dutch tongs, the poker is simpler and provides a more rustic look. Don’t let the simplicity fool you though.
They are made very strong, usually of wrought iron or brass.
French Fire Poker
Normally, you won’t see a lot of pokers in France. The tongs are usually doubled down to do the work of both.
But sometimes, even if you have tongs that can do the job, you may want a specialized tool.
That’s where the French poker comes in if you have a set of French tongs.
How to Use Fire Pokers
It’s pretty simple, really.
You should be able to use one hand to poke the logs.
But more than anything, I like to recommend that you use the poker to do more stirring, rather than shifting large logs to help get some oxygen in the fire.
You can’t get a good grip on the logs with just a poker, so it’s more dangerous when you’re trying to shift burning logs with a poker.
A fireplace shovel is usually used to control the ash layer in your fireplace.
Too many ashes and you could have a problem getting enough oxygen to your fire. You’ll need to scoop the ash off the floor of your fireplace.
But you’ll need to remember not to get rid of it all. Because a layer of ashes will help keep your fireplace insulated. This may help improve the initial draft of the fire.
Fireplace Shovel vs. an Ash Tray
I’ve seen it a lot, and I’m guilty too. Some people are used to just building a fire over an ash tray under the fire basket.
This is nice because you don’t have to clean the fireplace with a shovel. And you just need to empty the tray.
The problem with using an ash tray is that you won’t have the benefit of getting air under the fire, which means the fire won’t burn as well.
It’s always better to build the fire on the fire basket and then control the ash layer with a fire shovel.
The French Fireplace Shovel
I hear it’s extremely common to see shovels in France for their fireplaces.
French shovels are simpler than the English ones, but can be made more complex.
The English Fireplace Shovel
The English shovel has a nice long handle. They are very decorative and look really nice.
One issue that we hear with English shovels come from the connection between the handle and the blade. It’s common for that connection to be knocked loose after a some use.
This causes the shovel to be less stable.
The Dutch Fireplace Tongs
The Dutch apparently don’t use shovels as often as the English or French. So they don’t worry too much about the appearance, I supposed.
Even though you can find them in all shapes and sizes, the Dutch shovels are usually very plain.
And way more rustic than the English or French shovels.
A fire poker, tongs, and a good shovel are really all you’d need to have a solid set of fireplace tools.
You’ll be able to see a big difference to your fireplace’s performance too with just those.
To take it a step further, you can add a brush, a blow poke, and some storage.
A fireplace brush’s main purpose is to sweep the ashes blown out of the fireplace back into the fireplace.
Well, you can use it to give your fireplace a thorough cleaning. You’ll scoop the ashes out with a shovel, then you can use the brush to sweep the fireplace clean.
You’ll want to pay attention to the width and the shape of the brush. They can be round or elongated (like a normal broom). The smaller, round brushes will allow you to get into the corners and holes much better.
Bellows or Blow Poke
A bellows and a blow poke are really cool. They both work to push extra oxygen into the fire.
A blow poke is the most effective way to stoke a fire after it has been burning for a while.
Basically it allows you to inject a concentrated blast of air into the middle of the fire through a long pipe and the small hole.
With a blow poke, you’ll be able to stay at a safe distance to do this, too.
Conveniently, you can use a blow poke as a poker too.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re buying a wrought iron blow poker, though, because quality can sometimes pose an issue with the cheaper ones.
Usually, you can place the tools above on the floor, in a basket, or even just leaned up against the fireplace.
If you lean it, make sure it’s not in a position to fall into the fireplace.
If you buy a set, they often come with a nice storage piece that you can just hang up. This is usually a storage stand that consists of a tray with a vertical bar and a horizontal crescent-shaped bar at the top.
The stand has a number of advantages, such as it’s easier to set up next to your fireplace and it’s easy to reach. And the tray catches the ashes as it falls off the tools.
Or you can get a nice hanging rack that has hooks to hang the fireplace tools. Admittedly, this is my favorite way to store the fireplace tools.
How to Choose Fireplace Tools
When you’re trying to figure out the best tools to buy, it’s important to keep quality and aesthetics in mind.
You’ll want to find a set of tools that will allow you to keep them a long time, looks good in your house, and fits your budget.
Keep in mind, as you’re making your budget for this, that you really do get what you pay for.
Fireplace tools are almost always made of metal.
We see a lot of brass, wrought iron, and polished steel. Even a mixture of all three can be seen.
Wrought iron is the best and the material that I recommend most of the time. They have a tendency to last longer than the other ones, but brash and polished steel work very well too.
The length of your fireplace tools really depends on the size of your fireplace.
A smaller fireplace can do with smaller tools and the same goes for larger fireplaces – they should get larger tools.
The purpose is because of functionality and safety. You’ll be able to reach the fire easier with larger tools.
Of course, it’s up to you and your taste.
With tongs, you’ll notice a difference between French tongs without a hinge and English/Dutch tongs with a hinge attached.
Tongs without a hinge will be stiffer and can therefore have a good grip. But they are less easily opened than the tongs with a hinge.
They also look cooler, in my opinion.
They can also be used as a much better poker than those with a hinge.
For pokers, you’ll want to keep in mind if the tool has a hook or a small tip, in addition to the length of the tool.
When you have a hook, you’ll get a better grip on the burning wood. But you’ll have a harder time poking straight into the fire than with a straight poker.
If you have a wood stove with a lid on top, you should have a poker with a hook on it to open the lid.
If you’re buying a shovel, you’ll need to look at the width and the length of the shovel.
If you want to remove a lot of ashes, you’ll need to get a bigger shovel. Unfortunately, you won’t have the option to reach tighter spots with the larger shovels.
If you want to reach small spaces, go with a small shovel.
There are a lot of different styles of fireplace tools. Ultimately, once you decide on the material and size of the tools, you’ll need to think about what kind of style you want.
There are a lot of rustic, gothic, and other styles that can match your fireplace and furniture.