This thread is exactly why my Char-griller doesn't have a side firebox on it! ( I use it for charring and grilling.)
The only really bad bbq I've ever made was when I used to burn hickory in my little old NB sheet metal offset, my first pit given to me by a friend from Texas. My first slabs of spares recipe called for using a mop quite often that had a lot of garlic in the recipe. The ribs were NASTY...tasted like smoke and garlic!!
I soon after started using lump mostly, and tried burning down hickory to coals to shovel into my first drum smoker. Yep, as others have stated, it was a pain in the arse, and actually, I thought the smoke flavor was a bit lacking, so I made another UDS with no door for pre-loading charcoal in to do "minion burns" and haven't looked back!
Smoking is SO much easier in my UDS or wsm, or even my weber kettle.I wouldn't even consider burning wood only unless I had a LARGE offset.
THE THING IS THIS: You're smoke doesn't need to look "thin and blue" if you're using a charcoal smoker. A SMOLDERING chunk of wood on a pile of coals does NOT produce the same nasty smoke that a BURNING (flaming) chunk of wood does when not burning cleanly. (It's a whole different animal, but yes, you still can over-smoke food, especially ribs, with a wsm, a UDS, or any smoker that smokes by way of smoldering wood mixed in with charcoal.) I read some scientific explanation of the difference between a fire burning uncleanly vs. smoldering wood... somewhere, but I don't remember the clarification other than to say it's two different things and one puts nasty stuff in the smoke that won't make it out of the pit before contacting your meat.
That's my story AND my two cents!