If you wanted to use wood to cook, could you start the wood burning in a barrel and once the wood is hot put it in the smoker?
I would probably never want to cook with all wood but if it was the only option I would definitely burn it down to coals before putting it in the cooker. I would add a small piece of unburned wood once in a while for flavor. Straight wood is a little too strong for me and most others but when you pre-burn it you take most of the strong flavor out. What you’re actually doing when you pre-burn wood is creating lump charcoal, and it’s a lot of dirty work to do it, so I’d rather just use lump charcoal that I’ve bought.