Hello Everyone, I have been a long time griller, but I wanted to get into smoking especially for the holidays coming up. I made a smoker after reading trough the forums here and getting a general idea (I thought) about making one. After I made it, I was so excited the next day I threw in some coals and some logs to try and season it and see if I could get it to work. After that spectacular disaster I decided to ask some questions. I have a brick base (I'll attach photos of the inside) where my coals/logs will rest and heat with my racks directly positioned directly above them. is this a good idea or should I move the racks towards the back of the house so the meat is offset from the heat? There will be pan between the heat and the meat so it should absorb and direct initial heat away. Secondly, for heating up the box, should I use coals and allow it to come close to temp and then introduce the logs for the smoking? I have read conflicting arguments for both. Lastly, I am using a small air regulator to provide minimum amounts of oxygen to the logs so that way I get smoke and no flames, but I wanted to boost the temp from 180 to 225 and see if it would maintain. To do this i opened my bottom door ~1 inch, then went to grab some water. When I returned my logs were ablaze coating the inside with soot. Should I try and clean this off the sides of the box or will that be ok. I know this is a trial by fire and I will need to learn how to control the heat better but any advice will be great! Thanks, Ivy. The left side of the box will be for briskets and pork while I want the right side to be for large birds such as chickens, turkeys, and if I get pheasants. I have not finished the right side yet as I ran out of bricks completing the left side.