What am I doing wrong?

Hi, I’m new to the forum. I just started forging and getting frustrated with the basics. I’ve forged and shaped two knives, and attempted hardening three more with no success.
All are unknown metals, but spark tested like the 4th of July.
The most recent I made from an axle from a 4-wheeler. I forged the shape, left it fairly thick, heated it to non-magnetic, then a few seconds more, and quenched in canola oil until it stopped bubbling, moving it back and forth the whole time. I then let it cool until I could touch it bare-handed and file tested it. The file just bit right in, not hard at all.
I tried the same process again, this time getting it yellow hot on the edge. Still not hard.
So, getting very frustrated, I got it yellow-hot again, and edge quenched it in water. Still not hard.
Could I be burning up the carbon by heating it too often during forging?
I want to get the basic processes down pat, before I use my expensive steels.

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