The top-down method works equally well in wood stoves, fireplaces and masonry heaters. In fact, the technique has been in use for hundreds of years with the large masonry heaters found all over Europe. It works just as well today as it did then.
Start by placing the largest pieces of wood in the bottom of the fireplace or wood stove, with the ends at the front and back. Some wood stoves will have a deeper or wider firebox and this will certainly be a consideration when you’re cutting wood. Placing the wood with the ends at the front and back allows the air to mix well with the fuel instead of only hitting the broad side of the wood as it would if it were placed parallel to the opening.
Some wood burners prefer to use hardwood for the bottom row and softer (though no less dry) wood near the top of their firebox. The real key is to make the kindling small enough to easily ignite on top of the pile. All of the wood should be dry, but this is especially critical of the wood at the top.