I read the posts, and have to agree with both sides. The 'Dirt Nap' is HIGHLY overrated! You don't get a change to change your mind, either.
Safety is no accident, but I have met dozens of forum members who are brilliant, and more knowledgeable that most 'experts. Remember me saying: "Change Occurs when someone sees the next step".......well this works for both sides.
I know where nosmoke works, and trust me, they DO IT RIGHT every single time. Lives are dependent upon it. If they see something that could be made better they get the nod to do it when reviewed. I don't know if your stove will do what you want, but I'm damned sure you can review it, modify it, and try it. The fire box design you have does not allow for as much surface area for air to get to the fire, but you have something in mind. You need some secondary air available for the burning off of volatiles also.....you know how to drill, and can make an adjustable cover for that. My biggest issue was getting enough natural draft air through the firebox. I've installed small aquastat operated fans and timers to overcome this issue.
CO 2 detectors are a no-brainer. It would be like welding with no helmet....could work for a few minutes, but the FLASH burns would hurt for days..... Where this is all going is: You are a bright guy, and a stoker is going to be in your future.
Can you possibly imagine having a hot water radiant/baseboard, or other central heat system that utilizes a thermostat to control the temperature? No open windows unless you like the cold Arctic air in your home....no getting up to reload anything in the night......this is the Lexus of heating methods. I'll send you a PM, because the very LAST thing you want to do is make the front page in the obit section!
I've seen many basements with homemade wood stoves, and only a couple with homemade coal stoves. We all know that you do whatever you want anyway, but Bootstrap is absolutely correct: there are plenty of used stoves out there if you just look.
The VERY best of them are no longer made, but remain as hidden treasures...at fair prices. Crane, Russo, Nashua up this way, most any Harman to name only a few.