Stove pipe damper question

I have a woodstove. In the front is a slider plate that I can regulate the air with. I have learned that this is the most important component in getting the fire to burn warm and long rather than short and hot.
But about a foot up the pipe, there's a damper. I have been reading about these, and have read everything from they're critical to they're useless.
What is the answer? Is it a combination of these two air regulators that control the fire? Should I just leave the top one vertical so the pipe has least obstruction and vary the flames with the air holes? Or should I use the two together? It seems to me that if you put it towards the closed position that it would become very hot, possibly dangerously so. What about removing it all together?
Steve
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The damper allows "make-up" air from the room to go up the chimney. As the fire burns, the heat/smoke go up the chimney. If there is no damper, all of the air goes into the firebox, across the fire, and on it's way. This causes the fire to burn very hot & of short duration. The damper tempers the air going up the chimney with room air, allowing the stove to run cooler and longer, and also with better regulation.
I've run mine blocked-off for a short time, and I noticed the wood burns much faster, and I have a terrible time trying to regulate the fire .. .. BUT .. .. it does leave a cleaner chimney due to less creosote. Most stove manufacturers recommend frequent short, hot burns to keep creosote to a minimum. One way to do that is to tape an aluminum pie plate over your damper for 10-15 minutes while you go dump ashes or get a load of wood for the day.
SteveB wrote:

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I vote for useless. After the fire is out, the damper can be closed to block warm air from going out the chimney or from cold air coming down it. When the fire is burning, proper control over the inlet will determine how well the stove functions. If the proper amount of air is coming in, the same amount will be leaving.
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SteveB wrote:

draft and slow the fire because even with the stove draft closed enough air came in through the cracks to make the fire burn hot. If you have one of these old stoves you need the key.
New air-tight stoves do not need a flew key control since almost no air enters the stove when the draft control is closed. In this case the stove pipe key is useless, just leave it wide open.
--
Blattus Slafaly ? 3 :) 7/8

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