To start a fire, stack the wood to be burned so that air can circulate around the wood. Use small kindling to start the fire. Warm up the flue. Burn small hot fires. Do not damper down a fire too much as this produces a smoky, oxygen starved fire. A technique we like is the Top Down fire. Put down several full sized logs down first. Then add kindling on top. Then add a few sheets of crumpled paper, or a fire starter. The fire starts slowly and will progressively burn down to the largest logs at the bottom. It goes against the grain of normal thinking but works well.