oops, you had questions about shaking down. you will only need to shake down once or twice a day for a hand fired, depending on how much you use it. you will not need to shake it down as soon as you get it fired, which if i am reading your post right thats what you are doing.
when you get the fire going leave all your dampners below the coal bed all the way open, or open the ash pan door. as you probably have read, make sure when you are loading your coal you see the danceing blue ladies, about 4 or 5 inches tall. once you got you coal up to the top of the fire brick (coal loves a deep bed) LEAVE ALL THE DAMPNERS/ASH PAN DOOR OPEN FOR A BIT. this is the problem i had when i first started using my hot blast. so when you do this, grab a cold one and relax for about 10 or 15 minutes. dont leave the stove when the ash pan door is open. once you see a good glowing bed of red, orange, a some blue ladies, close off the ash pan door. until you know where to set the dampner, have it open all the way. play around with it a turn at a time.
now you question; shaking the ashes. ONLY shake a enough until you see the first red or orange embers fall into the pan. you might have to get right down and look under the coal bed where the grates are. does it all glow? if not you might have to poke underneath the bed to get some stubborl ashes out. i use a piece of 1/4 rebar with a 90 degree bend in it at the end about 4 inches long to get in there good. poke around underneath until it all is glowing good. DONT shake too much, only until you see the glowing embers into the pan. too much shaking will compact the coal, cut off the air supply, and kill it for sure. its a learning curve. BE PATIENT. dont worry about the wife, buy her some diamonds and she will forget about the stove
. hope this is all helpful to ya. keep us posted and stay warm.