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I Forge Iron

Ideal shop setup plans

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Hi guy's, im planning on turning my little hobby into something a bit larger by investing in some better equipment. I have a quaint little gas forge charcoal forge, and a coal forge, and a lovely dainty (soon to be replaced) 75lb anvil. I've made a few hammers, tongs, punches/chissels/drifts, fire tools ect..and bought a few and have a lovely barn stall that I can enclose to make a perfect little shop space. But I'm having a little difficulty thinking out exactly what I want to do with it aside from upgrading my forges and anvil. A power hammer would be nice, but I would have to make it so maybe a treadle hammer.
I plan on doing anything from knives to decorative iron work.
I have a few welders and most of the other basic neccessary peices of equipment.

anyway, If you would be so kind I would love to hear your ideas of a perfect shop space, and if you are feeling really charitable a pic or two of your personal workplace.

also, what is a good sized anvil?

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I have 4 anvils and I use each one for different things. My 287 lb Peter Wright is my workhorse and sees the most use. I have a 140 lb Peter Wright that I use for smaller items. I have a 90 lb Mousehole that I use for fine work and I also have a small RR Anvil that I would use for really small stuff (Haven't yet, but it doesn't eat anything ;-) I also have another very old Mousehole that is about 90 lbs, that I simply muse over where its life has taken it.:)

As for the perfect shop, there is no such thing, at one time I had a 30 X 80 shop and it was just to small :o I now have a 40 x 40 shop and I make do, but it is all about compromise. I have quite a bit of wood working equipment that gets put away (stacked in a corner) till I have need of.


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ahhh.....the perfect shop.......well start by acquiring the Boeing facility in Seatle, Washington...it's almost big enough. Then buy out or duplicate the equipment Kalsme'n, Bruce Wilcock, Hofi, cegga, and a few others have if you can't get the manufacturers to donate one each of everything. Then you need to get Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to fund the maintenance and expense of it all, or win a huge lottery. The down side is you'd have to live in the shop and never leave in order to have the time to use it all. Wait...that's not a bad thing. :)

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^^or a shed with an anvil, a hot spot, and a hammer.. I'de rather have bill gates or Warren Buffet actually doing the maintenance themselves.. that'd be interesting.

I want an anvil for everything, something I can beat out hammer heads without it bouncing around.. I have a small anvil, so I really don't need another one for that kind of stuff lol.
150lb+? mabey a 200lb anvil? something that I can use that when I am using the horn it stays in place. right now my 75lb anvil jumps when I strike the horn.

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The size of the anvil is not as important as stability. I like to be able to move my anvils around when I want to, not when I am pounding on them. Some old timers would sink the stump a couple of feet into the ground. Then the anvil does not move, even when you want it to move. I have a concrete floor, so no hole to sink the stump, plus I prefer the metal 3 legged anvil stand, with the 3rd leg under the flat/ square horn and 2 legs under the round horn. I put the round horn on my left side as I am right handed. To solve the moving anvil (even my 330 lb will move on me on certain jobs,) I welded washers to the foot of the 3rd. leg to drop a bolt into the floor. This stops that part of the anvil from moving. I can still move the round horn end to change the angle in relation to the vice etc. I can also easily pull this bolt to better move the anvil when necessary.

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There are a couple of threads herein. Re the anvil tiedown - that's a personal thing, I have my 250 PW tied to a block of concrete that weighs about 300 lbs. I have not been able to move it with any sort of hammering, including two 12 lb sledges - and I prefer it that way. I know a fellow who has several 400 lb anvils sitting in 55 gallon drums, which are cut in half and filled with sand. If one shifts or sinks, he simply picks the anvil up with the bridge crane, levels the sand and sets it back down.

Re the shop layout - my equipment list is as follows:

3 – Coal Forges
2 – Propane Forges
2 – Shop Anvils
6 – Post and/or Machinist Vises
1 – Sheldon 10x36 Lathe
1 – Clausing 15x48 Lathe
1 – Bridgeport 9x42 Vertical Mill
1 - 10hp 3 phase converter
1 - 2"x72" Belt Grinder
1 – 100 pound Beaudry Power Hammer
1 – 50 ton Dake Manual Hydraulic Press
1 – 36x24 Blast Cabinet
1 – Miller 150 MIG Welder
1 – Miller Synchrowave 250 TIG/SMAW Welder
1 - 2 ton electric hoist on a rail trolley
1 - Oxy-acetylene Torch
1 – Ingersoll Rand 175 psi Air Compressor with 120 gallon tank (this is in the barn and piped over to the shop)
2 – 4x8 Steel Layout Tables
Tongs, hammers, chisels, punches, set tools, power hammer tools, etc.

This is in a 24x36 shop and it's packed pretty tight - it also took 25 plus years to collect. I used to host workshops for our local blacksmith group but it would be tough to get more than 3 or 4 people in there now. However, it's a good size for me and I can build most anything I can handle. The largest things I've made are 4x8, 6x5, etc. - much bigger and I can't get it out of the shop and installed. I suppose anything could be designed to piece together but I stay away from large gates and stuff the local fabricators can beat me on price. Subsequently, I make odd-sized fireplace screens and unusual projects that no one else will touch. It's a good niche for me and has served as a consistent part time business for many years.

There are only two things I want for the shop at this point in my life - a fly press, because I think it would be a very useful addition and a plasma arc. The latter is a luxury and I may never buy one, but it would be nice to have.

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Actually there is not an "Ideal" shop that does everything from knives to ornamental ironwork.

If you have that big a range you need to either have a shop with sub shops in it or a shop you can change around as needed

For knifemaking a 10'x10' work area with forge anvil vise and powerhammer all a step or two away works well for the forging cell.

For ornamental work you may need a 10'x10' layout table, or room to swing a 20' long piece of steel---and that includes vertical space as well!

I generally do knives and small stuff and have a very nice forge cell set up for that but when I did some larger work lately I found out that even a 6' length of steel didn't fit my work area running into things when in the forge, or vise or at the anvil. For those I need a lot more space around the tools.

As for anvil size: 150 used to be considered minimum size for a shop with 250# being more "standard". The *big* anvils were mainly for use by industrial shops and nowdays just for anvil envy. I've moved my 500# fisher before working on it with a sledge so now I have a couple of fence wire staples holding it in place---doesn't take much with a big anvil

Will you ever have 2 people in the shop working at once?

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