Saturday, July 16, 2011

Starting the Stove

The Riverside Bakewell cookstove in our summer kitchen.
Just as each cookstove behaves uniquely, each chimney is unique as well.  The same stove when moved to a different chimney can become a different beast.  This post will show me starting the Riverside Bakewell in our summer kitchen.

Our summer kitchen, a Tuff Shed, was designed and finished with the knowledge that we wanted to let as much heat escape the building as possible.  Unfortunately, this resulted in the building itself being as good a chimney as the flue that the cookstove is attached to.  Therefore, starting the fire can be a very smoky affair until a sufficient draft is established in the chimney.  To prevent being smoked out, I first burn just a couple of sheets of crumpled newspaper in the firebox.

A piece of crumpled paper and a couple of tissues in the firebox. 
Notice that the ashes are cleared off the grate.

I then make sure that the stovepipe damper is open,

the oven damper is open,

The knob is broken off the oven damper, but you can see the hole
next to the word "open."

and the side draft is partially open.

Then, I light the paper and put the lid back over the firebox.  As you can see in the picture below, the smoke that was let into the room was minimal.

Once the paper had been burning for a little while, all the smoke began to go up the chimney.  After the paper has completely burned, I put more crumpled papers into the firebox and add a few small sticks of kindling.

Kindling burning in the cookstove.

It usually won't be long until you have a nice little fire of kindling.  You can then gradually add larger pieces of wood.  Because of the draft problems in our summer kitchen that I mentioned earlier, I cannot completely shut the oven damper as quickly as I always could with the stove in our house kitchen.  In the summer kitchen, I have to close it partially to strengthen the draw around the oven.

If baking is your goal, or if you want the maximum heat output of the stove, by the time a good bed of coals has been established, larger pieces of wood can be added, and the oven damper can be completely closed as shown below.  Of course, if you have a chimney that draws well, the oven damper could be closed shortly after the paper has burned away in the firebox.

Drafts can be closed down to slow the burning of the fuel and to thus conserve it.

Due to the fact that the firebox side of this stove is very near the sink, you can see that I put water in a canner and a 40-cup coffee pot over the firebox.  Otherwise, the heat that radiates from this side of the stove is nearly unbearable to stand next to.

Keep in mind that each stove is different.  This is what works for this particular stove while hooked up to this particular chimney.  Please feel free to share your "startup" methods.


  1. Nice post! I have written about my wood cook stove a few times on my blog too. Cooking on one is such a joy compared to the other stoves.

  2. I have a hundred year old Kiner Keno from Bangor Maine made by Noyles and Nutter ,,,I am wondering how to keep the temp to the same degrees or close to it because after awhile mine starts to drop ,,,,anyone know ????

    1. Welcome to my blog, John! Are you asking how to keep the oven temperature consistent, or are you talking about the temperature of something cooking on the stovetop? Let me know because I have suggestions for both.

      I hunted for a picture of a similar stove online. I bet yours is a beauty!