This guide to wood stove accessories provides helpful tips for purchasing and using wood stove tools.
A Guide to Wood Stove Accessories
Day-to-day operation of a wood stove requires a few simple accessories. Each setup has its own particular requirements. This is my personal list:
Poker: This tool is essential for rearranging the wood in the firebox and for raking the coals forward to the draft in those stoves where this is necessary. A poker need not be elaborate, I’ve gotten by for long periods with nothing more than a green stick. But, naturally, some sort of light metal rod is better. It should have a right-angle crook on the working end.
Ash Hoe: A small, fireproof version of the common garden tool, the ash hoe is used to pull ashes forward when emptying the stove or when covering the draft hole in order to seal it when setting an overnight fire. It is also handy for pushing the glowing coals to the back of the stove, as one does when preparing to bake in a stovepipe oven or when setting the fire to hold overnight.
Small Shovel: This is handy for removing ashes from the firebox, and also for use as a dustpan when the sweepings are to go into the stove. The small models, designed to go with coal scuttles, and the fancier ones, sold as fireplace accessories, both work nicely.
Whisk Broom: Hung near the stove, a whisk broom makes it easy to sweep up spilled ashes and bits of bark or wood.
Tongs: Either the ordinary kitchen variety or a special cast-iron fireplace pair of tongs is handy for stuffing papers and other refuse into the firebox for disposal, and also for rearranging the wood when the fire is low. I have often used the tongs to place dead charcoal from the previous fire on top of the kindling when I build a new one. Tongs also make it easy to remove tin cans and other metallic debris from the firebox (after incinerating rubbish), even while it is still hot.
Gloves: I keep a heavy leather gauntlet-type welder’s glove near my stove at all times for dealing with an especially hot fire. It is also useful for handling wood that’s dripping sticky pitch.
Trivet: A trivet is an indispensable part of wood-stove cookery. Anything that will keep the cooking pot from direct contact with the hot stove top will do, for example, the lid from a No. 10 can, with tabs bent down around the edges.
Door Pinya: A pinya or, more stiffly, — door closure pad — has a usefulness far exceeding its humble appearance. It consists of a four-ply square of aluminum foil, with or without a very thin layer of fiberglass insulation inside for added bulk. The pinya (pinya is the local Eskimo all-purpose word corresponding to our “what-cha-ma-call-it”) serves as a cheap, replaceable, custom-made gasket for sealing off the firebox door when setting an overnight fire. Some stoves have doors that don’t lend themselves to this sort of gasketing, and others are tight enough that they don’t need any help. But many, many stoves can really profit from this simple device. In fact, I learned the trick from a neighbor who invented the first pinya to give himself still greater control over his airtight heater.
Cleaning Tools: These are necessary for removing soot from most wood stoves. Wood ranges, which have elaborate passageways for conducting the hot gases around and under the oven, are especially likely to collect soot, and are always designed with special cleaning ports to give access to the passages. The standard tool for cleaning out the narrow cavities looks like a thin, double-edged hoe.
Stovepipes also accumulate their share of residue, chiefly carbonaceous deposits derived from unburned volatile substances in the smoke. This crust can be surprisingly thick and tenacious. I have always cleaned my own stovepipes with a very simple tool consisting of a folded tin-can lid nailed onto the end of a stick.
Wire Brush: Handy for burnishing the stove surfaces and removing caked-on deposits.
Stove Polish: An application of polish restores a very nice appearance, even on rusty surfaces. Some brands are available in liquid form, but I prefer the kind that comes as a paste in a tube.
Stove Pad: It is wise to invest in some sort of nonflammable stove pad to protect the floor beneath the stove from radiated heat and from any embers which may fall from the firebox. Commercial pads are available in a variety of sizes. Others can easily be made from sheet metal.
Ash Can: Some stoves also benefit from a can placed beneath the door to catch falling embers. With some models, sparks will pop right out of the draft opening, so it is well to be sure that either the stove pad or the ash can protects the area where they land.
Read more about using wood stoves: How to Use a Wood Stove Safely.