Fireplace Tool Set Buyer's Guide
If you have a fireplace, chances are that you've searched among thousands of fireplace tools and tool sets to find the perfect ones for your home. But, what is the difference between them? You'd be surprised at the number of people who have no clue. Many shoppers choose fireplace tools for functionality (if you have a wood burning fireplace); others choose them based on design and aesthetic appeal. The real question we should all be asking is: do some fireplace tools work better for certain scenarios?
In short, the answer is yes. Certain fireplace tools and tool sets work better with different types of fireplaces. This is because each set of tools offers specific items that are better suited for specific tasks as compared to others. Fireplace tools come in various sizes and colors to match the unique style of your fireplace or stove while providing practical use. By the time you have finished reading this guide, you will have the knowledge to select the correct toolset for your needs.
Individual Fireplace Tools
Each fireplace tool serves an intended purpose. While one can certainly get by with a basic toolset, it is ideal to have on hand all the tools you will need to ensure a satisfying and safe burn experience. Over the years, fireplace tool sets have evolved in both quality and ease of use, making an upgrade to a modern fireplace tool set a wise decision.
Poker — Consisting of a fully steel shank or a steel shank with a cast iron end, a log poker is designed to help manipulate and rearrange the logs in a fireplace or wood stove. Steel pokers usually have a single ninety-degree turn at the end that allows for hooking the logs or pushing them, while pokers with a cast iron end will have two or more hooks made into the casting for enhanced manipulation of the logs. Because this is one of the most essential fireplace tools, almost every fireplace tool set will contain one.
Log Tongs — Designed for loading new logs into a stove or fireplace or for larger tasks that a poker cannot do, log tongs are usually manufactured from steel. They typically have one or more hinge points that provide leverage for grasping and pinching logs. Log tongs may be made from steel or cast iron and can have a single hinge point or many to multiply leverage. Smaller or low-cost fireplace tool sets do not usually contain log tongs, as they are typically large in physical size and are the most complex fireplace tool to use.
Ash Broom — A fireplace broom is another common tool that most tool sets have, and it is often made from straw or synthetic fibers. While an ash broom is not designed to sweep hot ash while a fire is lit, it can be used after the fire has completely cooled to help collect and consolidate wood ash within the fireplace firebox. Most people use an ash broom with a shovel to remove ash entirely by sweeping the ash into an ash bucket.
Shovel — Most shovels consist of a steel shank with a stamped steel shovel head that has been riveted or welded to the steel shank. The shovel will have a broad enough head to allow it to be pushed back toward the back of the firebox, scooping ash into the shovel as it is pushed. For the remaining light ash, you can use the ash broom to sweep it away easily. You can also use the shovel to scoop and consolidate hot embers beneath the fire in conjunction with an ash bucket.
Ash Bucket — Used to contain either hot or cool ash and embers, the ash bucket often features a lid to contain dusty ash and residual heat from hot embers. Some ash buckets have a double bottom to insulate and keep hot embers from warming the exterior of the bucket to unsafe temperatures. Usually, ash buckets do not come with fireplace tool sets and must be purchased separately.
Common Types of Fireplace Tool Sets
With a firm understanding of individual fireplace tools, we can now cover the different toolset styles and their intended purposes. Keep in mind that most of the toolset varieties covered here consist of various combinations of the individual fireplace tools discussed in the previous section.
Full-Height Toolsets — Known as the most common type of fireplace toolset, the full-height version evokes the classic charm as that associated with a masonry fireplace. These tool sets are usually placed on a fireplace hearth immediately to the side of the fireplace opening. Available in a wide variety of finishes and styles, the full-height fireplace tool set will almost always consist of a poker, broom, shovel, and log tongs. Ranging from simple square steel sets to cast sets with decorative shanks and handles, this category of tool sets offer the broadest range of options.
Toolsets With Wood Holder — An all-encompassing option, this type of tool set typically features a convenient, built-in metal wood holder with a lower shelf for kindling or paper storage. One or more sides of the basket will contain a set of hooks or a storage rack for the fireplace tools to hang. While this type of set does offer a handy spot to keep all of your fire building materials consolidated, it is the largest type of tool set and will not fit all applications, especially if you have a shallow fireplace hearth or have limited space around a freestanding stove.
Miniature Toolsets — These are ideal for smaller fireboxes as seen in a fireplace insert or a wood stove. Miniature fireplace tool sets feature a similar design to most freestanding tool sets, but they are much shorter, standing at only 12 to 16 inches on average. Due to their height, these sets usually only contain a poker, brush, and shovel. Log tongs are generally excluded.
Brush and Pan Set — Consisting of a brush and pan only, this type of tool set is often purchased along with a free-standing tool set and used for larger cleanup jobs. While only a two-piece set, the brush and dustpan are more robust than the average ash brush included with a standard fireplace tool set and can make quick work of cleaning out a firebox or stove opening.
Materials Used To Make Fireplace Tools
When browsing tool sets, you will find that there are many different materials and finishes to choose from. Some of the material choices will make a significant impact on tool longevity, while other design choices are strictly for aesthetics. Below is a more in-depth look at the various materials and finish options available to you and a description of which products work best for specific applications.
Steel — Available in a variety of designs and finishes, steel toolsets allow for twisted or spiral shanks, baskets, hooked ends, and other complex shapes in one piece. They are available in a variety of baked-on finishes for the desired appearance. Steel sets offer excellent durability for interior applications but should not be used outside.
Cast Iron — This material is exceptionally durable, but the individual shapes of the tools are limited. In most cases, the handles of the tools will be steel, while the "work end" of the tool will be cast iron and threaded or riveted to the steel handle. Cast iron tools are ideal for extremely high-temperature hearth appliances, such as closed combustion wood stoves and high-efficiency wood burning fireplaces.
Stainless Steel — Ideal for outdoor applications, stainless steel tools sets are usually manufactured from 304 stainless and feature the same style options as standard steel models but come in an unpainted stainless finish. While primarily intended for outdoor uses, they can be used inside as well.
Plated Brass — Offering a striking appearance, plated brass tools offer a classic look and excellent durability. Brass plating is resistant to corrosion, easy to clean, and offers nice weight in the hand. Most brass plated tools feature a durable steel shank on the tool end, preventing the brass tool handles from exposure to excessive heat.
Not all tool sets are created equal. Some manufacturers put forth the extra effort to ensure that their products are superior and will stand the test of time under regular use. Thankfully, there are many solid manufacturers on the market, giving a wealth of options.
Pilgrim - In business for over 60 years and currently the nation's best selling manufacturer of fireplace tool sets, Pilgrim products are heavily built with sturdy welds and smooth seams. Products are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. The manufacturer is so proud of these items that they offer a lifetime warranty.
Uniflame - Having roots in propane distribution, this manufacturer naturally progressed into hearth accessories and fire pits. Offering a broad range of inexpensive but durably built fireplace tool sets, Uniflame has just the thing for a customer not wanting to spend a bundle.
Minuteman - A strong mid to high-end manufacturer of tools, Minuteman produces a wide variety of fireplace tool sets and wood holders. Based in Massachusetts, the manufacturer has been a staple for hearth accessories for decades.
Napa Forge - A subline of the Pilgrim brand, the Napa Forge line combines excellent Pilgrim quality with simpler designs for an outstanding value.
Lifespan and Care
Because tool sets are inherently durable, they do not require complex maintenance instructions. Yet, there are still several essential ways you can ensure a long product life.
At the end of the burn season, it is recommended to wipe down each individual tool with a damp cloth and then finishing with a cloth dipped in vegetable oil. Avoid using other cleaners and oils, as they can give off hazardous fumes the next time the tools make contact with hot ash or flame. Light corrosion can be removed with fine-grit sandpaper and steel wool. When using your tools, be sure that fireplace brooms are only used to sweep completely cool ashes and embers. The broom bristles can be quickly damaged if they come into contact with hot ash. Be sure to dump ash buckets as soon as the contents are completely cool. The high alkalinity of wood ash can accelerate deterioration of the ash bucket if left unattended for long periods of time. Any tools that are damaged or broken should be repaired or replaced to ensure safe operation.
When cared for properly, a fireplace tool set can last decades. Typically, broom and shovelheads see the most wear and tear. Avoid sweeping hot ashes with the broom and overloading the shovelhead when scooping embers. A few extra small scoops instead of one big one will prevent straining of the shovel rivets. Should the bristles of the broom wear down from normal use, most manufacturers offer replacements to keep your tool set in top condition.
Most fireplace tool sets will ship via small parcel carriers such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS, owing to their relatively compact dimensions. The tool sets usually come mostly assembled, but sets that do require assembly will usually screw together easily and include easy to understand instructions. Should a tool in the set be damaged, an individual replacement part can be quickly shipped.
Find Your Perfect Tool Set!
Now that you have armed yourself with the knowledge to navigate the different tool set styles and materials, you can begin the search for your ideal size and finish. Remember, there are plenty of options to choose from. Enjoy your search and know that you will ultimately find the perfect tool set to fit your décor and tend your fire effectively. If you happen to have more questions that were unanswered in this article, our NFI certified technicians will be more than happy to assist you.
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Fireplace Tool Sets Q&A with the NFI Certified Specialists* Please Note: All customer questions are answered by our NFI Certified Specialists free of charge!
from Texas asked:
January 19, 2020
Can I buy individual pieces? I only need the brush.
Unfortunately, no, we do not sell individual brushes for the tool sets. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on January 20, 2020
from Lewisburg, OH asked:
April 1, 2019
What type of finish is on the steel fire pokers?
They will have a silver finish.
on April 2, 2019
from Long Island,NY asked:
January 27, 2018
I am looking for a 6 piece fireplace tool set that includes a poker AND a hook for the flue. I want it in black.
Unfortunately, we do not carry a 6 piece tool set in black.
on January 29, 2018
from panama city, fl asked:
January 8, 2018
can i purchase just a broom head. one that screws onto the handle?
No we do not carry just the heads for the brooms.
on January 9, 2018
from Georgia asked:
December 12, 2017
Is the Pilgrim Newport Stainless Steel set available?
Yes it is.
on December 13, 2017
from wilmington nc asked:
December 7, 2017
looking for a modern chrome fireplace tool set and indoors log rack
I would recommend something like Pilgrim 5 Piece Newport Tool Set - 18092
for a more modern chrome look. We don't have as many options like this for the log racks though, but you can see some options here.
on December 7, 2017
from Frederick, MD asked:
December 6, 2017
Do you have any sets MADE in the USA...?
I apologize for the delay in information. Per the manufacturer, any of our tool sets found here
are made in North Carolina.
on December 12, 2017
from San Diego, CA asked:
January 11, 2015
I have an outdoor fireplace. What metal do I need for both the tools and the screen that will not rust?
For any outdoor application, the best choice in metal is stainless steel.
on January 12, 2015
from TX asked:
July 28, 2013
Do you have a wall hung fireplace tool set?
We carry individual hooks that allow you to hang tools, such as the Minuteman Wrought Iron Single-Hook Tool Hanger
, however we do not offer a complete wall hanging tool set at this time.
Collin C. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on July 29, 2013
Customer Images of Fireplace Tool Sets