I have built several drum stove over the years but not with these kits. The ones I made were from the Sotz kits. They were truly air tight units and I wish I could find on today just to have the door. I never had any problem with too much heat on the outside bottom, once they got a build up of ashes and I would never clean them out completely.
As for spacing from the walls, what I have done with those stoves and others is, I screw 3-2X4 steel studs to the wall and then screw 2'x 4'-6' sheet metal roof panels to the studs, with a 12-18" space between the floor and bottom of the sheets. Then I can cozy the stove closer to the wall.The sheet iron reflect some of the heat back into the room and cooler air passes through and behind the metal.
I also have used galvenized oil drip pans that I bought from NAPPA to put under the stoves, over plywood flooring, the pans have a lip on them to catch those wayward coals that jump out while your are cleaning out ashes. I have used drum stoves like the one in the photo, (built by others) they are not as good as the Sotz kit that had a down draft system, but they are okay. I think the legs are too short, I'd like the to be another 6" higher.
I have also have put "Magic Heat" blowers in the stove pipe, (re: Nothern Supply),they are good but of corse you need electricity.
I have heated my home with a drum stove and used them in my 1200' shop with 10' ceiling, right now I wish I had one but I don't have enough room for for it.
Good tip on the heat shields - commercial stoves designed with low clearance distances sometimes use a similar approach. The key part is that cool air can circulate behind the heat shield. Better still though is to make sure that any materials close to the stove are not flammable in the first place.
All the best,
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