Fire Tools Overview
A fireplace tool set is a good way to enhance the look of your home fireplace, even if you don't necessarily need the tools. The standard fireplace tool set is built with the wood burning fireplace in mind. Gas and electric fireplaces will naturally have different sets of tools devoted to cleaning them and making sure they stay shiny. But those are not the tools that one expects to see standing in front of a traditional hearth.
The traditional set of fireplace tools looks charming and romantic to many people-more so if they don't get any use and so stay clean and gleaming. There are hundreds of different styles to choose from. Almost all fireplace tool sets will include the following five pieces: 1) Fireplace poker, 2) Tongs, 3) Spade, 4) Broom or Brush, and 5) A stand that holds the other four pieces until they are needed.
The fireplace poker is a short, rigid rod made of fireproof material. At one end it has a handle that can be insulated but doesn't have to be. (The poker isn't generally in contact with the fire long enough to conduct heat up the handle.) The business end is sharp. A few inches back from the business end there is a sort of hilt that branches out, usually in both directions. The purpose of this tool is to move burning wood around in the fireplace while staying at a safe distance. Usually the pointy end is all that's needed. You jab at the wood and roll it over into a new position. The hilt keeps you from jabbing too far into the wood and getting the poker stuck. It also can provide an additional bit of grip.
If your fireplace tool set lacks a piece, this is probably the one. The tongs are set on a short, rigid rod, just like the poker, and have some means of manipulating them open and closed. They are often pointy at the ends, functioning as a set of pincers. Fireplace tongs give you a little more precision than the poker in moving bits of burning wood around. You can grab the wood with your tongs and drag it along or lay it more parallel to the front and back of the fireplace. The tongs are not safely used for picking a log up entirely, but they can do so for smaller pieces of wood. The tongs are also useful for picking up charred to move them into a garbage bag. Naturally, care should be taken that the fire is completely out and the log is cool.
The spade and the broom go together. They don't get used while the fire is going but in the cleanup process afterwards. They function just like a standard broom and dustpan. The spade usually has a short handle so you can reach into the back of the fireplace and scoop up ash and charcoal without dirtying your forearm. The broom often has a handle as well and can look like a miniature push broom. In other designs the broom looks more like a whisk broom and is used in a similar fashion.
The stand is what brings all these elements together and presents them decoratively at the side of the hearth. A stand can be as simple as a flat base with a rigid rod and some sort of curved nook at the top. The tools rest their ends on the base while the rods lean against the nook. Other stands can have individual nooks for the tools. Or the tools can have looped handles that hang from hooks so that their ends don't touch the base of the stand at all.