Hi again. Yes, we think we followed the clearances. Our Intrepid came with the heat shield and then we added a shield, cement board, to the wall. We have double wall stove pipe straight up to the triple wall chimney pipe. We are in a one-story ranch and we put the stove in the addition so there was not really a "design". For now our cement board is just leaning on the wall. We painted it to match the wall. My husband put feet on it so it would be up off the floor and stops on the back so it would stay away from the wall. Not elegant but it works and maybe some day we will make something attractive.
I found the clearances hard to read in the manual. I kept going between the chart and the images they have, trying to get it all to match. If I remember correctly, they don't show the heat shield with a wall shield in the chart. But it is in the images. I followed the clearance in the image. The cement board has never been hot to the touch, just nicely warm. And the wall behind the cement board is cool to the touch. The wall above the wall shield, behind the stove pipe, gets warmer--but still comfortable to touch. I can imagine the clearances are generous, lawsuits and all, but we decided to follow them. (Also, I assume that the clearances are set for a roaring fire, full firebox, and we haven't done that.) Our couch is the appropriate distance away but the metal bucket of wood is pretty close to the side, 16"?. It never feels hot.
Palo Verde is soft. Not like mesquite at all. We have a problem having enough moisture in the wood, tends to dry out fast in the desert. So yes, we only burn well-seasoned wood. You ask about it getting "too" hot. No, but we have never filled it more than half full. Or on a cool cloudy day like today we just burn smaller pieces without the cat to take the chill off. But if it is going to be "cold", 40s and 50s, all day then we use the cat and warm up the whole house. Without the stove we used our gas furnace to warm up the house to 70 but we were chilly in this room. Now we often don't use the gas heat at all and this room is 74 or so and the house is 69 or 70.
We have used it more than we thought we would and it has been great for us. It would definitely be sufficient in an emergency. Again, hope this is helpful, we are about the least experienced on this board.