Watch this video to learn how to make high performance charcoal. This is just one of many things you'll need to know in order to get started in pyrotechnics—legally and safely.
You'll need an empty paint can and lid. If there is any paint or plastic inside, you'll have to burn it off using a torch. Wash the can to get rid of any ash. Drill a 1/4" hole in the lid.
Choose your wood according to the type of charcoal you want to make. Strip off any bark, and cut wood into small strips about an inch or two wide, and short enough to fit in your can. Hammer the lid on the can tightly.
Start a fire, and when it's hot enough, place your can in the fire with the handle sticking up. Leave the can in the fire until the flame coming out of the hole you drilled on top dies away. Take the can out of the fire and place a damp rag over the hole. Let the charcoal cool down to air temperature.