Every woman who has anything to do with the cooking should study the kitchen range until she is familiar with every part of it, both inside and out. She must understand the use and abuse of every damper, door, and slide.
Every range has a fire box. This may be round or elongated; deep or shallow. When wood is to be used, a moderately deep and long fire box is preferable, as it will admit longer and larger sticks of wood, thus enabling one to more easily keep a steady fire. The usual openings in a fire box are a door and one or more slides. The latter admit air containing the oxygen needed by the fire. In many ranges there is also an ash damper under the fire box, which, if kept open while raking the fire, will aid in preventing the ashes entering the room, by creating an upward draft. It should not be open at other times, because it retards the burning of the fire. There is also an oven damper, either back of the oven or over it, which, when closed, forces the flames and hot smoke to pass around the oven; then, by means of divisions, as shown in the illustration, they are conveyed along the bottom of the oven to a pipe at the back part, through which they escape into the flue. The oven damper often has over it the words, "Out to use the oven," but it does not follow that it shall be out only when the oven is to be used. When a fresh fire is made, allow the smoke and heat to pass up the chimney, but as soon as the fire is burning well, adjust this damper so that the oven will be heated. This will keep the oven so that you can heat it at any time in a few minutes, and you will have a good fire with much less fuel than by allowing a strong draft, created by open dampers, to carry the heat up the chimney. Some ranges have a damper in the pipe, also, which can be used when the draft is too strong.
Take off all the stove covers and brush off the dust and ashes from the top of the oven into the fire box. Scrape the ashes from the fire box into the ash pan, and remove and empty it. About once a week the ashes should be scraped from beneath the oven with a scraper made for the purpose.
When ready to lay the fire, place on the bottom of the fire box some shavings, if you have them; otherwise prepare some paper by wringing it in the hands, and lay that in. On the paper lay a number of fine sticks extending the entire length of the grate, and crossing each other diagonally, to allow the air to circulate among them, and let the ends of the sticks rest on the supports at the ends of the fire box, that they may not press the paper or shavings too much. On these fine sticks place some thicker sticks, and criss-cross them as before. Put the covers on, and light the fire from below. As soon as the fire has burned a few minutes, and sunk a little, put on another stick or two, and when it is well started close the drafts and the oven damper to hold a steady fire, and replenish as often as necessary.