When I first start mine up, I add lump charcoal and 2 pieces of wood. Once I get the bed of embers going, then I just add 1 to 2 pieces of wood per hour depending upon how big they are.
I keep both top vents full open and then pushed back in about 1 inch. I keep the bottom firebox vents full open. Sometimes I will keep the door to the fire box open, but most times, I close it right away.
Sounds like you are not getting the air flow through the unit that you need. If I remember right, Patrick had that same problem.
You want to make sure the smoke is not sitting in the chamber too long, you want it flowing right through.
Let me know what you are seeing..