I still use charcoal as my base in my RF stick burner, then add wood for both smoke and heat as the cook moves along. I'll take a 20# bag (or 13#, depending on whether it's a 6 or 12 hour cook) of Kingsford, pour it into my charcoal basket, then get about 1/2 chimney of briquettes going in my starter chimney. Pour them on top of the unlit, spread them around evenly. Once the charcoal gets going good and my pit temp is rising steadily, I'll start throwing my mix of oak and mesquite splits for briskets and oak and pecan for ribs on the fire 3-4 pieces at a time. As far as keeping thin blue smoke, it's all about the proper air getting to the fire. Whether it be from the air intakes on the firebox or the draft created by the air flow from the intakes through the pit, out the exhaust. Start by opening your exhaust all the way, then manage your fire and temps with the intakes and firebox door by cracking it just a bit to get more initial air to your fresh wood, don't leave the door open too long as you will get a big spike in pit temp, just long enough to get the wood burning properly. A fully open exhaust and opening the intakes a bit more will help out quite a bit with combustion as well. Once you learn your pit and how it reacts, you can start choking down the exhaust as well to help with temp control. I usually run my exhaust about 3/4 open with my intakes at 1/4 open and run a steady 250. Preheating your wood will help in getting them to catch fire quicker and combust properly. I throw 3-4 sticks on top of the firebox everytime I add wood to the fire. This way, the next time I need to add wood, it's ready. If you want to run with wood only, you just have to get a good bed of coals first by burning a few sticks of wood down (I eliminate this need by using the charcoal) then keep feeding the fire wood as needed. Kindling, oil soaked paper or a good old weedburner can be used for starting your wood fires. Oldschoolbbq has a great tutorial on the site to guide you through stickburning 101, I'll see if I can find it. If I can't, I'm sure he'll be along shortly to give it to you. Happy smoking.