I am setting up a shop before having done any work. If I have a rectangular forge in front of me and I'm right handed, will I want the anvil to the right or left of the forge? Why? Where would you put the quench barrel relative to these? Thanks for any help!!
I'm afraid there is no hard and fast rule on the above. It's whatever you find most comfortable for yourself, paying due regard to the space you have around the hearth and the size of work you will be doing.
Arrange it so it works for you, and the work you want to do.
Same goes for the direction the horn faces, when you position the anvil. Tradition puts the horn on the left, IIRC, for a right handed smith. For some things I have done, that required repetetive use of both the face, and a cutoff hardy, like square nails, I found that by cranking the anvil end for end, I could leave the hardie in place, with no risk of whacking my fingers off on it, as it was now on the far side of the hammerhead.
Sometimes it's good to be able to play with the layout, or at least have stuff that's semi mobile, to adjust for the usage.
The shop that I used the most, had the forge set up with the anvil at the smiths back, within arms reach. The slack tub was to the immediate right of the forge, and was a source for water to use when making and managing the fire, as well as being ready to hand when required to use to quench metal or cool a tool. Immediate to the left of the forge, was a leg vise,mounted to a steel post/truck rim combination. Sturdy enough, and mobile enough.
If you were wondering about the water and the fire, the coal we were using was mostly fines, and once a fire was lit, coal fines and water slurry would be built up around it to coke off. You got in the habit of making sure there was a bit of coke around for the next relight.
What I was told about anvil direction, and handedness.
The anvil horn should face to the left, and in my my shed my forge is to my right when facing the anvil. Forge placement is not that important, although sometimes when you are doing forge welding it is better that the work gets to a hot anvil quickly.
My quench container (which is actually a garbage can filled with the sh*ttiest oil I could get) is outside my shed, for no other reason than I like my floor space (which is funny really as the floor space is cluttered with a few things that are on the go.
There's no hard an fast rule to any of this, basically it's what works for you.
However I do not recommend you face the anvil horn toward the mouth of your forge, chances are you're going to drop something, bend over and get an anvil enema... not pleasant.
For my part anvil #1 is to my left at 90* to the forge with enough room to walk around, this week, last week it was right behind me. Why? This week I want to make three steps to the power hammer and only pivot to use the anvil. Last week I had to turn around but it was only a side step to the post vise.
It is all about process.
Accept when it comes to physical needs. I rarely set up to pivot right. Knee gets sore.
On a circular base even a heavy anvil can be moved with a minimum of effort. For a quench bucket I normally use a stainless steel milk house bucket. That moves around somewhat , but usually sits to the right of the forge out of my traffic pattern.
It is funny everyone wonders about anvil placement, I did too. IMHO Most important is the forge placement if you are using coal. For the most part it isn't going to move around much due to weight and flue connections. If I had it all to do again (This would be the fourth or fifth redesign) I'd obsess about forge placement to allow for the most variations possible on the other items.
It would also be in a building built for the purpose. Laying things out to match floor shape and existing venting can be limiting.
"They" talk of making a triangle of the forge, anvil and post vise. The idea is to keep them all as close together as you can so you aren't running around the shop with iron cooling on the way to the next step. One other issue to consider: Are you going to be adding a trip hammer or treadle hammer one of these days? If so, give some thought to how they might fit in to the whole scheme of things. Slack tub full of water (that's what I assume you mean by "quench barrel") as close to forge as possible, as others have said.
But there IS a fourth piece of equipment that needs to be close by: a work table. This doesn't have to be a large layout table, but at least a flat place to put things so they don't have to be picked up off the floor. And of course, you need a place to put tongs and handled tools. My forge has a rack on the end and so does my 2' X 3' work table. It also has a holder for 16 of my favorite handled tools to the front and a holder for 40 less used handled tools on the rear, out of the way of my four-sided "triangle". If you have convenient wall space (CLOSE to the forge) for hanging tools, use it. Don't "show off" your tool inventory within the triangle. Keep only tools needed for the current job in that area.
You didn't mention the post vise, so if you don't have one, get one. If you mount it on a moveable stand, make sure it has a table for laying tools on; at least a foot square (I like 18" square). I strongly suggest that the stand and vise combination weigh at least 200 pounds, more if possible. My personal favorite base is the flywheel from a New Holland model 66 baler. It weighs 215 pounds, but rolls into the van or pickup truck easily when dissassembled from its support tube and vise.
One other poster mentioned anvil placement so as to aviod chopping off knuckles on the cut-off hardy. When making nails, I put the hardy in the post vise so I can't cut a knuckle.
And remember, don't stir the slack tub before drinking out of it!
Make it all movable (no stump buried 5 feet into the ground at this point) and rearrange after a bit of use and thinking. Refine until it works well for you. One immediate comment - the forge is hardly primary "...forge in front of me" - think from the anvil - the forge is an enabling heating appliance, the anvil and vise are where the work gets done.
OK, so I haven't mounted my post vice yet. But it seems to me the reason for the post is to withstand banging. Banging on anchors loosen them. And repeated shocks wear around concrete or wood (my guess for your floor). The flywheel would provide two important functions. First, provide a massive inertia reservoir, similar to an anvil, that would provide a sturdy support for the post vice, with a dynamic mount - very little random motion between vice and the mounting (the flywheel). The flywheel also presents a very large, relative; surface to the floor, reducing wear on the floor. With the flywheel you don't wear out your anchors to the floor. Bolting to the floor isn't a good way to manage vibrations/impacts, or my anvil would be bolted down. Instead I put a lot of thought and adjustment into my anvil stand - and it isn't bolted down.
Ted, you wrote questioning making the vise movable. Keep in mind that I have chosen a fixed, actually three fixed vises, one large machinists vise and two post vises.
I can recommend a set up that I saw used. The vise was mounted to a post on a steel plate which was round and about 30" in diameter.
When the vises is used with the smith standing on the plate it is a closed system and would work just fine in a zero G environment. The plate being round makes trundling it about the shop a matter of rolling it. I have also seen a square plate with a couple of dolly wheels , just tilt and move.
As to the anvil stand a round stump works well and can also be rolled a bit if the vise isn't too big.
Mike - Actually my question started based on total room layout. I basically have a 12 x 12 area in the corner of my shop shed that I'm partitioning off, except on one side, with cement board. I'm trying to figure out where to place the forge, mainly relative to the anvil & vice, on the outside wall for venting.
I'm planning on using an old vent-a-hood to create draft. This is my "dirty" metalworking area. I'm going to have metal shelves, 3 grinders, cutting torch area, and MIG welder in this room. I've got a 4' dia. steel plate about 1" thick that I'm going to mount on pipe legs & casters as my work table for everything. I guess I need to come up with a smaller/taller table for near the forge work area. I'm already running out of room trying to fit all my toys & projects into my new shop - 30' x 100' with a 20' lean-to down the side for storage. The main floor is concrete. This is my dream shop but alot of my projects are large - old tractors & cars, machining, & woodworking (yes - I know about combustibles).
Thanks for everyone's suggestions so far....
"jack of all trades, master of none" but will be working on it the rest of my lfe - joyfully, Ted Walker