I used the permatex silver stuff, but you're right- graphite would be great. They also make a gold formula (permatex). I am just not too keen on popping the top of the stove off again, and having to go through more furnace cement sealing it down again. I sure wish there was a rope gasket for the top so sealing it wasn't such a pain! So everything I thought I knew about the cat was that I shouldn't flip the damper to utilize it until after I hit 600* plus. You're saying I can have that damper flipped all the time, just not when I'm loading it or first starting it? I have had luck loading fresh wood in with the cat damper shut, but I thought that when the stove was cold the draft wouldn't be strong enough to go through the cat. But I see what you're saying, and that certainly makes it easier!