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Hi BiscuitBurner,
Glad you're here!
CJV probably knows how to use the Brinkmann smoker better than most folks around here, because he has used one for years.
Regarding types of wood for smoking, I prefer hickory for all purposes, because I like the way it tastes, and because I have a lot of hickory trees in my yard.
I think you should try a few different woods until you find ones that you like. If you have a lot of chestnut, then definitely give it a try.
I like a LOT of smoky flavor when I make BBQ, so I put in a good amount of smoking wood periodically throughout every smoke. (I don't use mesquite, though-- I think that flavor can be a bit too strong and slightly bitter if overused.)
I agree about firing up your smoker the first time without any meat. That will help you learn how to use it, and as Bob pointed out, it can help burn off any stuff on the sides that might be left over from the factory.
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