When hot smoking wood should burn, not smolder. Smolder means bad tasting smoke. If you use smaller, dry pieces of wood you shouldn't have a problem maintaining the temps you are looking for.
The best fuel is after the flame has died down in you wood fire and you have a nice thick bed of hot coals or embers.
We like to say that a smaller hotter fire is better then a large cool fire
If you are having problems with pure wood fires why not try building a charcoal fire and supplementing it with wood splits. Once you get that thick bed of embers you should be able to go all wood.
If you are having problems building a wood fire you may not have sufficient air getting to the fire. Make sure your dampers are wide open and that your fuel is nice and dry. I like to start my fires with charcoal then I go to very small splits, 1 or 2 inches in diameter and then move to the larger 3 - 4 inch splits
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