Fireplace Bellows - A traditional accessory
What is a fireplace bellow?
Fireplace bellows have been used for hundreds of years to rekindle a dying fire. These devices are relatively simple consisting of a supple bag normally made of leather, two wooden handles and a metal nozzle. The bag expands as air is sucked in and contracts as the air is forced out of the nozzle. It is this swift puff of air that helps to revive a dwindling fire. New technology means that fireplace bellows are no longer an essential item but they make fantastic fireplace accessories and are ideal for housewarming gifts.
Bellows are not needed in gas or electric units but can be very useful in wood burning fireplaces. They can come in huge variety of designs but most have a wooden frame with the inflatable bag made of leather. Antique fireplace bellows are still available in perfect working condition and could add the finishing touches to a traditional fireplace.
For those with more elaborate taste there are hand-painted and hand-crafted bellows. Hand-crafted bellows are particularly impressive with some designs including three-dimensional images cut into the wood. These can get fairly pricey but they are usually unique and signed by the artist.
Fireplace bellows can come in a variety of sizes to suite all preferences. The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the bellow the better it works because more air can be expelled in one puff. The size of the fire should, however, be considered as it may not be necessary to buy the biggest bellow in the store! Some come with extended handles so there is no need to bend down or get too close to the fire. Bellows are available in a variety of wood types, such as pine or oak, and a number of finishes. Most are polished with tung oil to augment the natural color of the wood used.
For the more modern wood burning fireplace there are now power bellows available. These provide the same function as traditional bellows but use batteries and so do not need to be pumped manually by hand. They provide a puff of air at the push of a button and are a very convenient tool for wood stoves, coal fires and even camp fires.