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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Waukesha, WI
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    178

    Default Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Being new to this and cheap, I plan to build my own hive bodies. After researching I plan to go 8 frame medium bodies. I have access to lots of free scrap (but useful size for hives) 1" plywood. It seems as though plywood is not perfect for bodies but after doing some cutting it looks like it will work out fairly well except for the fact that it's 1" rather than 3/4". I plan to join the wood using some rabbet joints rather than butt joints.

    Aside from being non-standard, am I going to run into any horrible issues by using 1" wood instead of 3/4"? It seems as though I will be limited with possible hive parts from suppliers and will be forced to make most items which I think I'm ok with. I figure I can make the cover and the bottom somehow. But is there anything else critical I'm missing?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    7,010

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    The inside dimension is most important. If your outside dimensions are 16 3/4 by 20 1/2 you should be fine. Like you said, you will need covers and bottom boards custom for these. You would be better off to make just covers and sell them. The "For Sale" here would clear them quick. If the pieces are not 16 1/4 by 20, I guess you have to make hive bodies
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    berkley county, WV
    Posts
    429

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Like American Beekeeper said, Inside dimensions are the important ones. If the outside is over, then they are over, but if the inside is over, well: trouble is comming for you eventually. Bees don't worry about how big their house is, as long as there is room inside for everything. But if you do make them "non-traditional", you will have a time getting traditional dimension boxes to work with them....
    welcome to your new addiction!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Dripping Springs, TX USA
    Posts
    296

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Langstroth 8-frame dimensions using "3/4" inch thick boards. Adjust the outside for 1 inch plywood. The insdie IS critical for frame match-ups.

    Outside: 19 7/8" long X 13 3/4" wide X 6 5/8" deep
    Inside: 18 3/8" long X 12 1/4" wide X 6 5/8" deep

    The 13 3/4" board has a 3/8" cut-back from inside top edge
    and that is 5/8" cut-down for holding the frame ends.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,118

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Just my opinion, but I also use 8 frame mediums and also being cheap I have them built out of all kinds of scraps - with no problems.

    Get some 3/4 material to use for the ends though. Eight frame medium equipment has almost enough room for 9 frames in standard configuration - enough that they sometimes build a 1/2 thickness comb on the inside of the box. Losing 1/2 inch total out of the sides might even be a good thing. You will still have room to get the end frames out, and as long as you center them the frames will still line up with the ones above.

    They will be kind of heavy though, but not compared to 10 frame boxes full of honey.

    Also, build them with a total outside width of 14" - factory made 8 frame boxes run from 13 3/4 to 14" anyway, and that way your boxes will only be 1/4 less than some of the "store bought" equipment, and most everything will still fit fine. For example I have a Sundance II top entrance pollen trap that's 14" and it works fine with my 13 7/8 boxes.
    Last edited by David LaFerney; 01-13-2011 at 06:35 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Killingworth, CT
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    1" thick ply? Not very common, where do you get it? But like was said, the inside dimensions are what count. and if you building you own boxes, tops and bottoms are easier.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Mu suggestion is only use standard equipment. 5 years down the road you may have a boat load of hives. You'll go and try to throw another super on this hive and realize it just won't work. So you have to custom make more stuff for this hive that will cost you in the long run. A lot of beekeepers are going to ALL mediums just to make everything interchangeable. I think you would be causing yourself more headaches in the long run.

    -Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,671

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    +1 on using standard equipment.

    Like mentioned, eventually you'll regret not going with standard dimensions. I started out making all my own equipment and didn't adhere closely to standard dimensions (inside yes, but not outside). Eventually, I ran out of time and energy to make all the equipment and started buying my stuff. I now regret having this old stuff around as things are not perfectly interchangeable, which leads to some choice words expressed in my out yards when I go out without having the matching equipment. Another point is if you ever want to get out of beekeeping who's going to want to buy nonstandard equipment?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,400

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Two big issues in my experience:

    1. Unless the plywood you use is MDO you will have weather issues. A well painted box purchased from the suppliers will last 20+ years if not treated in any other fashion. I still have some in our operation we bought new 30 years ago. You will also get longer life from a box when they are treated with copper. Plywood will rot out on the exposed corners faster than a regular box would.

    2. The money you save now will surely be spent on Aspirin and psychiatric services after you realize the non standard "cheap" route wasn't so cheap in the long run. You will certianly regret it if you add more equipment. If it comes time to sell out, the puzzled look on your wifes face from the minuscule check you get for all the "equipment" will most likely confirm that not many folks don't want to share in your savings at their expense.

    GO STANDARD. GO LONG. GO RIGHT.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    Make it standard. Cheap is not always the best. NSTFL.

    Side note- Plywood is not always cheaper than standard dimensional 1xs.

    mike
    Please check out the new kingfisherapiaries.com!
    Like us on Facebook

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,118

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    It seems like some of the people who are responding to this didn't read the question: "Aside from being non-standard, am I going to run into any horrible issues by using 1" wood instead of 3/4"?"

    The short answer is no - aside from being non standard, using 1" wood won't cause horrible issues.

    It isn't a question of whether or not one material is cheaper than the other "I have access to lots of free scrap" IT don't get any cheaper than free. Will anyone ever want to buy them? The conventional wisdom is don't buy used equipment anyway - unless it has healthy bees in it in which case you are selling the bees as much as the equipment. I suspect that it is a mistake to base your purchasing decisions on the resale value of used woodenware.

    Depending on how you build them they don't even have to be non standard for that matter. Will they last 20 years? Probably not. Will they last 5? Probably. By then most people will either get tired of bee keeping or move into a new phase of it.

    There's no disgrace in not being a wood worker, but if you can't build a hive body that uses standard frames and doesn't violate bee space, don't make that into a cautionary tale about someone else building their own stuff.

    Everyone can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars on the woodenware that it takes to start bee keeping, and if slapping together your own equipment out of scrap materials makes it happen, then by all means have at it. It's about the bees, not the boxes.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
    Posts
    312

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    I got some higher quality 3/4 inch oak plywood for almost $44 a sheet at HD. If I was really cheap, I could have gone with $18 3/4 board. I can make 6 medium boxes, two bottom boards and 2 migratory covers with one sheet. With a good paint job on the outside and inside edges, these will last probably 10 years or more and who know what i'll be doing in 10 year. Nobody will prevent me from updating paint 3-4 years and make them last even longer. I am not using any specialized joints. Lots of glue and some real long screws cause I have never experience a nail that did not want to come out when I abuse the part.

    The biggest issue I had is with getting the box perfectly square in all 3 dimentions, so I made a jig to help with that. My boxes are completely interchangeable with standard equipment.

    One thing that surprised me is that after you put 10 PF120 frames into the box, there is about 1 thumb worth of space on the side. I expected some slack but not quite that much. So inside dimentions are important, but you'd be surprised how much extra space is in these boxes.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    when I started out I did plywood it will get you buy until you can buy better wood,think about recycle pallet's it will get you buy on the supers.
    but most of all keep boxes standard that way if you do buy hive body's they will stack up right.
    I always thought outside was 19 and7/8 by16 and1/4=10 frame
    and 8frame 19 and 7/8 by 13 and 3/4
    if I am wrong been make boxes for 50 yrs wrong===lol

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pinellass County, Florida
    Posts
    1,115

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    buy some mesh tape and resin put it on the corners then paint away
    your Box's will out last you

    http://www.bottompaintstore.com/Mari...6?productId=26

    http://www.fiberglasswarehouse.com/M...Nav=Fiberglass Products&Category=Fiberglass Tape

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,068

    Default Re: Building (non-standard) plywood bodies

    If you can build boxes from free plywood to get started, certainly forget buying "standard" equipment. Just keep the inside dimensions and your frames standard size. If you have some store-bought 3/4" wood hives in your yard, you can simply stack the plywood boxes on top and let them hang over a quarter inch all around. Don't try to take the space from the interior so the sides are even. That, I believe, you will come to regret. BUild new covers as needed.

    I have a few of the first hive boxes that I made that are less than ideal and a couple bottom boards that failed the test. Someday I'll send them up in a little bonfire and toast the "not perfect" equipment that helped me get started. And since, like me, you are getting started by building boxes from free wood, why should you give even a single thought to its resale value years down the road? If you earn nothing on an investment of nothing for a scrap plywood box, you've broken even and you are way ahead of the guy that paid $10 bucks to Dadant and perhaps can get $5 for it on Craigslist.

    I bought a couple hives but found it more to my liking to buy tools and make my own equiipment from scrap. I'm making my own frames too, and there are one or two here that will argue that I'm wasting my time since frames are "so cheap." (All the equipment in my shop has been more than paid for just in the savings from making frames myself for free, in spare time that others might find more enjoyable drinking beer and watching football. I was even told that I should be finding a more profitable use for my spare time. I assume he meant that I should put more hours in at the office and pay after-tax dollars for my frames. There always seems to be someone who knows best how to spend other people's money.)

    Do whatever you need to do to get started now. Don't worry that you will want to change everything over to purchased "standard" equipment some time in the future. Don't feel that you need to wait until you have all the cash in hand that you need to "do it right" in other peoples' eyes. There are too many people discouraged by others that convince them they can't or shouldn't do something that will help get them moving down the road. Get started now.

    Wayne

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