new smoker/ problem with keeping a fire going

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Original poster
Apr 14, 2014
hi, we just finished constructing a smoker and are having issues with the fire aspect of it. we are trying to use firewood(hardwood) and the fire either burns to fast with the door and vents open on the barrel, or the fire goes out with the door closed. with the door open temperatures rise well above 200, and with it cracked open it stays around 150.i have smoked with coals before in another smoker, but cannot seem to get a nice fire that lasts more than 15-20 minutes at a steady temp. any assistance would be much appreciated, want to get some meat going in this thing.  thanks

The shack just has a 6 inch pipe vent coming out the back of the roof. The fire barrel has the door in the front which is about 8-10 inches and the back has to holes an inch and the other 2 inches. Just don't understand why the fire dies when the door to the fire barrel is shut. Also I would like to use just wood. But would coals be easier.
Not sure what you mean by two holes one inch and two inch. Are you talking air inlet holes in the back of the barrel?

"the back has to holes an inch and the other 2 inches"
So is the fire between the "holes" in the back of the barrel and the exhaust stack leading to the smoke house?

Looks like the stack is in the back of the barrel. I would suggest some sort of vent in the front of the barrel under through or around the door to feed the fire. Also as you have asked charcoal with wood added may be easier to control the heat. Are you trying to cold smoke or hold standard smoking cooking temp of 250 or so.
Yes you are correct. Do you think the problem with keeping temp and and longer lasting heat could be the barrel being made of such thin metal as opposed to a firebox that is thicker?
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