First I would recommend switching to the NUT size coal your stove company recommends for your stove. This thread How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove
has many good tips from members on how they shake down their particular stove. While every stove is different, there are some universal practices that will work in all hand fired stoves.
mikecelotti wrote:I shake the grates more then I think would be nessesary. Although not to the point it kills the fire by any means. Please advise.
Without knowing your stove in particular, I think most stoves work fine if you shake them down twice a day. In the real cold weather, when your stove is cranking, you may have to do it three times a day.
Over-shaking can definitely pack the coal bed to tight & restrict airflow & can even make you lose your fire.
Good luck & let us know how you are making out!