This is the easiest process I have determined...
1. Intermix your coals and smoking wood in you basket to your desired level not more that 4/5 to the top..
2. Lite about fifteen briquettes or 1/2 -3/4 chimney of lump in your chinney.
3. open all vents on the bottom and top of the smoker 100%.
4. when coals are ashed over pour on top of the basket and destribute evenly as possible.
5. after about 10 minutes close 1 or 2 bottom intake vents (depending if you have 3 or 4 intakes)...
6. 1/2-3/4 way to your cooking temp close another vent and pay close attention to your temp.... you should still have one vent 100% open... if temp does not continue to rise or drops more than 10 deg. in 10-15 minutes, you will need to atleast patially open one more intake vent....
If you have ball valves use them slowly easing them close fractions of the opening at a time... Look down in the valve and watch how much you are really closing it, to get a visual perspective on the actual opening...
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Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985