I'll be building a RMH next spring/summer but needed something for this year... Hence I put in a air tight barrel stove this year... and it works great. The only hustle was cleaning it out occasionally. I wanted something to use to insulate the bottom of the barrel for longer life. (I knew about using sand and or ash). Again the problem was the occasional cleaning without having to replace the sand and or the ash. So I decided to use a piece of Harty Backer board (cut approx. 30 inches long and 12 inches wide). I left the layer of sand/ash and placed the hardy board on top of that (packed it down and then installed my homemade grate on top of that... It works Great! Now when I use my small homemade metal shovel, it slides easily across the top and or using a coffee can to scoop out the hot ashes and clean the area without any problems... Easy solution and solved my aggravation and Pain in the butt that made this stove 'less labor intensive' for cleaning it out.
Villains always have antidotes. They're funny that way. Here's an antidote disguised as a tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while