OpenOffice.org Writer can be used to create HOWTOs. However, HOWTOs have to be short and factual, not fancy, so don't try to make documents with complicated layout. The simpler, the best...
Never forget your document will be proceded several times before being published. So you have to make clear for the processing scripts what your layout is.
No script can read and understand the document, you have to setup youself the titles and organisation. But any script can make a Table Of Content from the titles, so you don't have to make one by hand.
Better (or worst) you don't have to number by hand the sections. Better because you can add a section between to others, worst because any link to a section have to be done with anchors as you don't know what will be the number.
So use Titles, as provided by OpenOffice.org writer.
As of March 2009, we don't have yet tested the Docbook Ooo conversion for conpatibility with LDP system, and by the way you probably don't have the tools at hand to control what the converter do.
So, take into account the html export. If the html export sounds good, chance is we can use the document, let only converting from this html export.
Asking for Help
Never stop asking for help. We all learn from each others. send your first draft to the discuss list and we can test it and comment on the content and on the layout before any problem come.