Missed this thread all together until today. Been so busy, not enough hours in the day
I don't think you choice of oven was bad, just take it easy when you fire it at first. Clay can be fragile during the curing.
For the wood, use tree trimmings. Fallen dead branches or if freshly cut give them 6 month and it is good to go. It is free, no need to split it. Very small branches to start the fire, then any pieces 1" to 2" in diameter is ideal.
Best of all it burn hotter, more flames, less embers.
If you are lucky, walking / driving around your neighborhood you may find people who even cut them 3' long, bundle them and put them on the curb. Love those people
Try to stay away from fruit wood, apple, pear, cherry,... they tend to do a lot of embers with not enough flames. It is great for smoking, like Tom does, but not for getting a wood fired oven to temp.