Moved into a new house with a fireplace to decorate? Or maybe you have used an inexpensive fireplace tool set for a couple of years and it’s already falling apart. A quality tool set is both an essential part of a working hearth and a strong decorative element in the room. For working fireplaces and stoves, a tool set becomes an everyday companion for helping with fire tending, cleaning up and safety. Even if you have a gas fireplace or an unused hearth, a tool set still helps give your hearth a traditional, finished look.
Here are a few tips to guide you when buying new fireplace tools. We'll look at both decorative and functional considerations to help you make your choice.
Types of Tools
The most common fireplace tools include the following pieces:
• Brush. Brushes are often constructed of broom straw or Tampico bristles so they won’t melt when they’re near heat.
• Shovel. Good, quality fireplace shovels are strong enough to use as pokers and deep enough to move plenty of ash.
• Poker. Used for stirring up logs or coals in a stove, pokers are normally crafted with a solid steel shaft that has welded tips for strength.
• Tongs. A top-notch pair of tongs are built will have a solid steel riveted hinge and be strong enough to let you pick up a log and move it around easily and safely in the fire.
Fireplace Tool Set
Benefits Of Purchasing A Complete Set
If you use your fireplace infrequently, you may decide to buy only the individual tools that you use most with hooks for hanging at fireside (such as a poker, generally the most popular tool). If you use your fireplace a lot, a set can be a much better choice. Tool sets usually include three or four tools (shovel, broom, poker and, sometimes, tongs) plus a stand. Often, the handles and tool shafts are solid steel so they won’t bend or wear out with use.
• In addition to a stand, three-piece sets include a poker for adjusting logs in the fire, and a shovel and broom for cleanup. If you use your fireplace a lot, look for a shovel with a larger scoop and a broom with a full set of stiff bristles to make ash removal easier.
• Four-piece sets include those found in a 3-piece set, plus a pair of log tongs for folks who really like to play with the fire. The grabbing end of the tongs has either two or three points of contact with the log. While the two- point tong is more traditional, the three-point style makes log moving a little easier.
Keep A Grip on Your Tools
Functional concerns include how the handles and tips attach to the tool shafts, and the design of the tools. Considering how you intend to use the tools will increase your long-term satisfaction with your choice.
One of the most common complaints from people looking for new tool sets at Plow & Hearth's retail stores concerns tools whose handles loosen up in use. Tools have either swedged (also called press-fitted) or threaded handles. Forced on with tons of pressure, swedged handles will not come loose, as will handles that are threaded. To check a tool, grab the handle and the other end and twist. You won't be able to budge a swedged handle.
Slate Tile Fire Pit
Combining Form With Function
On the decorative side you need to consider the set's materials and style. By far the most common materials for toolsets are brass or iron, which you will find alone or combined to make sets from casual to very formal.
• Traditional Brass Tools. Solid brass sets tend to be more traditional and formal looking. Brass sets have a variety of finial treatments from simple ball to elaborately turned tops, to suit a range of decorating styles.
• The most expensive sets tend to be made from solid brass. The rich color, satisfying heft, and brilliant finish of a well-made solid brass set can be truly beguiling. Sometimes, to increase strength and to cut costs, solid brass sets have tools shafts made from steel sheathed with solid brass tubing.
• Brass tool sets in the middle price range are usually a little lighter weight and have less hand finishing than the most expensive sets. The better ones are hard to distinguish from the most expensive sets. They represent a good value and can last a lifetime.
• Brass-plated steel toolsets. At the lowest price level are brass plated steel sets. They are often used as promotional sets and are generally not suited for regular heavy use. They may be practical, however, as a decorative accent for a fireplace that is not used frequently.
• Iron Tool Sets. Iron tool sets have gained popularity along with more casual trends in decorating. Just because they are more casual does not mean that they cannot be decorative, however. Handmade wrought iron sets can be decorated with scrollwork, leaves, and other details. Even machine-made sets can have stamped accents and gracefully curved handles. Some iron sets combine the beauty of brass handles with the durability of steel shafts and tool ends.
The Perfect Fireplace Fit
When choosing a tool set, remember to keep in mind the style of the fireplace screen, hearth and the overall style of the room in your tool set decision. Many tool sets are designed to match or complement the look of specific screens and log holders, so you can build a matching set of hearth accessories that also fits into the decorative feel of the room.
Here are some helpful hints for selecting the right tool set for your setting:
• Be sure to match the height of the tools to the size of the fireplace. Tools and stands range in sizes from 30" to 35" tall, from shorter sets designed for woodstoves to extra-long sets suitable for a massive stone fireplace in a great room with high ceilings. (Shorter tools may require using fire gloves to protect yourself from the heat when working a blazing fire.)
• Many tool sets are available in a variety of finishes like black, bronze and copper.
• Your tool stand is a key component in creating the look you want around your hearth. Tool stands are available in round or space-saving flat designs, and some tool sets even have log holders built in.
• Look for tools and tool stands that are finished with hammering, bending or decorative elements so there is no unfinished, cut off steel.
When possible, factor in both the decorative and functional aspects of your new fireplace tool set by seeing it in person before you buy it. Take a picture of your fireplace, write down its measurements and bring both along with you to your nearest Plow & Hearth store. That way, you can gauge in person how our high-quality tools compare to your fireplace in size and style.
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