Originally Posted by DMAC
You want to ferment in the bucket, partner.
I use the 1-2-3 rule
1 week in the primary, although you want to make sure that the specific gravity is pretty close to the final product and activity in the airlock has almost ceased.
Then I transfer to the carboy (secondary). Make sure all your transfer equipment; siphon, tubing, carboy, etc. is properly sanitized. You won't get every last drop transfered over. Just leave all the dead yeast and other crap in the bucket.
2 weeks in the secondary and then transfer back into the bucket for bottling. Again, make sure everything is sanitized well including your bottles and caps.
3 weeks in the bottle (minimum) before drinking. I prefer to wait 6 weeks myself, but will usually pop one open after 3 just to make sure all is well.
You also want to measure the specific gravity before starting the fermentation. You can compare it to the final gravity measurement and get an accurate idea off the alcohol content.