I have three cast iron grates that serve to support most food items I place in my masonry wood-fired smoker. They have always been difficult to handle - dirty mostly. I used to grab them with a pair of channel locks - works, but have been lucky I haven't had one slip out. Well, actually one did and I have one grate with a cracked piece.
So I made a simple device to lift the grate into and out of the smoker and to carry them to the sink for cleaning. A few pictures below. Hope it gives someone and idea or two.