1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Tips for Small Fire Boxes

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by dafattkidd, Nov 25, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,566
    Loc:
    Sound Beach, LINY
    Hey Guys,

    Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to start a thread for those of us with small fireboxes. I want to hear some tips and tricks you use to get longer burns, and what kinds of things you do to maximize your small stove. Sometimes it's hard for those of us with 1.7 cf fireboxes to take tips from the guys who own the 3.5 cf beasts.

    So what do you do to get the temps up quickly, get the longest burns, and just overall maximize the usage of your stove? Does anyone else have trouble with the top down fire in their small firebox? I've got 1.7 cf firebox to heat about 1650 sf ranch. What's the size of your firebox,what kind of temps, burn times and what's your tip/trick? Everyone knows dry wood is key, but what are specifics for your small firebox?

    Really looking forward to your input. I think this should be a good thread. Thanks.

    Burning oak and locust I can get 6 hour coals to coals -start at 300, end at 250-300 with coals for a good start (I've done a little better, and significantly worse, but this is a reasonable daily goal- however the last 3 hours are usually below 400 which means the stove is not putting out a lot of heat during that time)
    Max temps 600, usual cruising temp is 475-525
    Tip: I split my wood small so I can cram a lot of it in there. I'm trying to master the NS but most of my wood is cut to 18".
    Beer Belly likes this.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,690
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    There are several threads on burning in a Jotul Castine which is close to this size which you might find helpful. The principles are the same as with a bigger stove. How the fire burns is more a difference in the orientation of the wood (E/W as opposed to N/S), secondary or cat reburn and the insulation of the firebox.
  3. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,566
    Loc:
    Sound Beach, LINY
    Gotcha BeGreen, I'm looking to hear some personal experience, tips, tricks, and such that may help us have a better winter. Hearing how others operate their own stoves.
  4. trailrated

    trailrated Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    232
    Loc:
    Maryland
    I have an Englander 13 which is around 1.7cf I think. This is my second season with it so I'm still figuring things out. Last year my wood wasn't the best, this year its much better. If I use good hard wood like oak, I can get close to 8 hours and have decent coals for a start up. 8 hours is the max though and it has to be coals from a hard wood like oak. I have to shut the stove down completely to achieve this, the vent can not be cracked or I'll only get 5 hours or so.
    chang likes this.
  5. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,566
    Loc:
    Sound Beach, LINY
    Trail rated,

    Are you burning NS? What size are your splits in diameter? Sounds like you can get some great burns out of that little Englander.
  6. trailrated

    trailrated Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    232
    Loc:
    Maryland
    I primarily burn E/W. Most of my splits are 16-18 inches long, diameter wise, 5-6 inches I guess, some larger. If I come across some smaller splits, I try N/S once in a while. I have a alot of wood to process for next year, I'm going to buck smaller for shorter splits and see how that works.
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,899
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    The 30 has a 3.5 ft3 firebox.



    For my small Century I could never get a top down started. Due to the small amount of mass it got up to temperature quickly. I found the best way to optimize it was to get every bit of heat out of it I could. I focused on making sure that the secondaries were insulated as well as possible from above to get them to fire as early as possible and filled any area that the smoke could go through with kaowool in order to force it past the secondaries. The way I saw it, I had to make sure that all the smoke was burnt to get the most heat possible from the little stove that could.

    And it did.

    Matt
  8. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    Sunny New Mexico
    As BG said, the principles of burning are the same. I see two main differences:
    1. Coals buildup becomes a limiting factor more quickly in a smaller stove, and
    2. Burn times are shorter, due in part to the smaller fuel loads.

    Both of these issues basically come down to coals management. In one case, you want to get rid of them quickly so you can reload with wood. In the other case, you want them to survive as long as possible, i.e. overnight. So it's helpful if the stove has features builtin (or added by the user) that assist in dealing with coals. What are these features?

    For burning down coals, you want controllable under-fire air and secondary air shutoffs.
    For longer burn times, you want control of ALL air sources, to be able to shut them all off completely if desired.

    Most stoves have neither of these features, though secondary air shutoffs can be added pretty easily by the end user.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,963
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I really like the Rutland fire starter squares to get a fire going quickly in the morning before I go off to work.
    I make a tunnel in the ash between the primary and secondary air intakes, put a piece of wood on it, and light a square underneath it, then put some more wood in.
    If the splits are small enough, which I prefer, I put another one or two on top as well.
    When we both used to work, or if we're going out for a while, the StoveStat turns off the fan when it cools off.
    I don't think I'd be able to burn NS in my stove.
  10. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,566
    Loc:
    Sound Beach, LINY
    I noticed it says Englander 13 in his sig. So I just figured it was a type-o.
  11. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    841
    Loc:
    Central NY
    I have a 1.6 cu ft Lopi Answer. I like this stove a lot. My tips and tricks:

    1. I cut and split my own wood so I can get the max length for E-W and the right size. I split some squarish or rectangular pieces that I use for overnight burns - the squared off geometry lets me get more pounds of wood into the firebox.

    2. I'll cut some smaller pieces to use N-S on the bottom, then stack E-W on top of that.
  12. trailrated

    trailrated Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    232
    Loc:
    Maryland

    I made a mistake, I have the Englander 13 series. It has a 1.8cf firebox.
  13. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    My little Keystone measures in at 1.4cu ft and is a E/W loader. So far I've had a couple 10 hour burns with enough coals for fresh splits to take right off again. I find the best way for long burns in a small stove is to rake the coals forward, tuck a large 6" or larger diameter round behind in the back and tightly pack the rest of the splits in.

    If i'm looking for a shorter hot fire I rake the coals forward then lay 1 medium split from corner to corner then fill in straight on top of that which gives plenty of air space to circulate around the box.
  14. roberth42

    roberth42 Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    56
    Loc:
    St. Lazare Quebec
    This will be our first winter with the Englander 13 so I'm still getting used to the stove. I have had a hard time trying to get coals the following morning so that I can start a new cycle from them.

    I have Maple, Ash and Cherry for my wood and they are loaded E/W, splits are medium size around 5" - 6". One thing I noticed is to leave as much ash in the firebox as possible. It seems to insulate the coals and if you dig around the next morning you will find them. Once I find them (only a handful) I pull them forward in front of the dog box, open the primary full and close the door to let them light up bright red. Then I start loading small splits in on top of the hot coals.

    Last night the outside temps dropped to 15 degrees F and I loaded the stove full. I have found that overloading the stove usually results in very high temps nearing overfiring! To be honest I don't feel comfortable trying it again because my probe thermometer came close to 1000 deg!

    Looking forward to reading more of this thread and hopefully get some new ideas!!
  15. elmoleaf

    elmoleaf Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Southeastern Massachusetts
    Long burn keys for me:
    1. Use oak or other dense wood.
    2. Don't leave primary air wide open....close enough to maintain firebox at 400F or above.
    3. Use maximum size rounds or splits as possible that'll fit in firebox and pack full. Typically longest burn will come from big oak rounds.
  16. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    340
    Loc:
    Roc City NY
    I'm glad my stove is smaller 1.3 cu in (really had no choice) . Stats say it has 8 hour burn time but I have had it longer. I to have found what Todd has said for longer burn times work.

    The other thing with smaller stoves is you do need smaller pieces of wood to make them fit...which makes me needing to swing the axe more but that's all right need the work out.

    I don't find having to add more wood because the box is smaller a pain because with these stoves your always tring to get the second burn with the air control, so your always doing something with the stove. But compared to bigger ones I'm sure I am.
    md
  17. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,566
    Loc:
    Sound Beach, LINY
    [quote author="Todd" date="1290744201"]I find the best way for long burns in a small stove is to rake the coals forward, tuck a large 6" or larger diameter round behind in the back and tightly pack the rest of the splits in. /quote]

    I'm going to try this.

    Do you create a NS tunnel in the ash and coals for air flow?
  18. FireAnt

    FireAnt Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    Messages:
    566
    Loc:
    Central CT
    I know for me right now with my NC-13 loading 2 18" E/W with 3 10" N/S on top has been a winner. I got 8hrs out of the stove with nice big coals to just add some more splits and shut the door. That was with Birch and Norway Maple. I have been cutting pieces to 10" now because it seems to be very effective. I would even use all 10" and fill the fire box up.
  19. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    841
    Loc:
    Central NY
    I'll use a big round in the back as well for overnight burns. Even with a big square split back there, I find that I can easily get a relight from coals that are 8-10 hours old. Having an inch of ash in the bottom of the firebox helps with this, but even the night after I did a full ash cleanout, I can get coals to last 8-10 hours.

    One of the things I find with a small stove is that there is just less volume of wood off-gassing, and the firebox temperature is a little tougher to maintain. One thing that will cause my stove to stall in the secondary burn is if the piece in the back stops getting enough air. The reason for this is usually that the piece if pressed right up to the back of the firebox, and air can't circulate around it to burn it and off-gas it. I find that before I load a big square split or round in the back, I'll put a piece of bark against the back to keep it an 1/8" away from the firebrick. This helps me a lot.

    Another tip for a small stove - get long welders gloves. These are invaluable in loading a small stove when you need to arrange a lot of wood just right to get the most wood into it.
  20. dsnyder@dtccom.net

    dsnyder@dtccom.net New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    mid tenn
    new to the site, just wondering what NS and EW burning means
  21. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
  22. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    NS means loading your stove with your splits North South or straight in the stove front to back, EW is East West or loading side to side. Most small stove are set up to burn EW unless you cut your splits very small.
  23. Wooddust

    Wooddust Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    84
    Loc:
    Missouri
    I have a Waterford Mk II in cabin bedroom. I have yet to master the little bugger but I dont burn it as much as I need to to figure it out. That may be a cold night project this winter however so Im interested to read others ideas how to work the small guys. This is the stove : http://pasurvivalprods.tripod.com/waterford.html
  24. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    Sunny New Mexico
    Be careful not to overfire your Waterford - there are no parts to be had...
  25. Wooddust

    Wooddust Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    84
    Loc:
    Missouri
    Im aware of that. Overfiring is not likely an issue or never has been. I plan to do a better job in cutting wood this winter to lengths that fit it better. In past Ive sort of lopped off ends and branches and ended up with either 5 inches too short or 3/4 inch too long.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page