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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Hello all,
    I would like to learn how to make my own frames. I know that some of you all do make your own, and I am wondering if you would be willing to share the steps and process here. Please post pictures or videos! I am really interested in pics and videos, seeing I have already seen some plans, but have yet to come even close to perfecting the process. The few ones I have made work, but take awhile to make, and are altered slightly for easier "manufacturing" and construction. I'll post some photos as soon as I can. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    I'm in the same boat. I'd like to see if I can cost effectively make my own frames. I think getting choice lumber is going to be the difficult part. It'd be impossible to make good frames from the standard 1 by lumber I get from Lowe's without cutting out a bunch of the big knots.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,057

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Old Guy in Alabama

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Okay, here is my very simple design. The bottom bar is an unused one from Mann Lake that I had sitting around. I make my own bottom bars identically except for that I don't neck down the ends.This is an unused foundationless jumbo frame; you can tell by the fishline wiring and the starter strip in the top bar groove. Here are some pics:

    Picture 079.jpg

    Picture 080.jpg

    Picture 081.jpg

    Picture 082.jpg

    Picture 083.jpg

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Dell Rapids, SD
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Has anybody ever used plywood for end bars? Pros? Cons?

    Thanks.

    DJ

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Good Hope, GA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Cons... Warping, chipping when shaping, voids where beetles can hide. Don't really see any benefits.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,594

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Quote Originally Posted by djastram View Post
    Has anybody ever used plywood for end bars? Pros? Cons?

    Thanks.

    DJ
    I'm certainly not a woodworker but I would think that the plywood would be very hard on any dado blades or other cutters.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Dell Rapids, SD
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    I was going to try to CNC some bars out of baltic birch, but would like to know if it would have any effect the bees at all.

    I'm sure there are plenty of opinions on ply in the hive, so forgive me if I hit a nerve.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Good Hope, GA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    I am a woodworker and we use plywood a lot for shelves and routinely cut dados in it. That isn't much of an issue to me, but it's suitability for making frames is certainly a no. Just not stable enough.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Good Hope, GA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    I would also think that plywood would lead to weak joints unless you used a polyurethane expanding glue like gorilla glue due to the voids in the edges of plywood. If you're gonna CNC, I would use 1x12 and make sure you cut it right in relationship to the grain of course.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dos Palos, Ca. USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Western-beekeeper, I was introduced to making my own frames by my mentor and have refined it and now make my own frames and boxes. I had made some special cutters which work with a Shaper and and have had the blades on my Jioner recut to make the end bar so that it is just like it comes from the bee supply. You can use a whobble Dado to do a lot of the other cuts that are required. I don't have any photos to share or videos yet will see if the wife can take a few pictures and I will post them later so if you ever get to this part of Calif. Let me know and I will show you. Tom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Quote Originally Posted by Beesrme View Post
    Western-beekeeper, I was introduced to making my own frames by my mentor and have refined it and now make my own frames and boxes. I had made some special cutters which work with a Shaper and and have had the blades on my Jioner recut to make the end bar so that it is just like it comes from the bee supply. You can use a whobble Dado to do a lot of the other cuts that are required. I don't have any photos to share or videos yet will see if the wife can take a few pictures and I will post them later so if you ever get to this part of Calif. Let me know and I will show you. Tom
    I would love to see some photos. Is there any way you can post some pics of the tools and process? Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dos Palos, Ca. USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Benjamin, I will try and take some pictures this week end and have my wife post them so I can send then along. Drop me a e-mail to this address. tfpeavey@gmail.com Tom

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,611

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    I'm certainly not a woodworker but I would think that the plywood would be very hard on any dado blades or other cutters.
    Plywood is very hard on blades. the glue that hold the lamination together is abrasive. think of sawing sandpaper constantly. Carbide tipped blades withstand it fairly well.

    Delamination of the plys might be a problem inside the hive. Otherwise all plywood have voids in between the outer plys cheap ply is used to make the thickness only grade ply is used on the outer surfaces. That is why ply is graded C-D Ext (Called CDX). one side is grade C and the other is grade D. and is for Exterior use. But the middle is trash.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    CDX is one of many many many types of plywood....and about the lowest grade you can buy.
    Not all plywood have voids, better quality cabinet plys will not, and marine ply will not.
    That said, plywood seems a poor choice for any frame components at a number of levels.

    Benjamin,
    I like making my own gear. The frames I make I feel are better than any I have purchased...but not that much better...and certainly not better enough to make any functional difference. I have a full woodshop, I have been a profesional woodworker for 15 years and it is still financially foolish for me to be making frames. Once or twice a year I do a run of a hundred or so because my needs are small and I hate to burn a bunch of nice clear scrap. But for an operation of any size I just can't see it.

    The bulk of the time is in the top bars. The dadant style construction gives you a very strong joint in the vertical pull relative to the side bars. MOst of the shortcuts I have seen (including yours) are a substantial step down in strength and I would worry about them holding up long term in hives that are not worked very regularly keeping the frames loose.

    But like I said, I get wanting to make your own gear. And there have been times i my life when I had free time a plenty but precious little cash. If I wanted to make a lot of functional durable frames cheap/fast I would look at some type of light metal strapping to bind the top bar to the side bars and keep the joinery in that area simplified. Good luck with it.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,611

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Windfall, You are right. but the context of this conversation is about making fraems a 70 cent item if purchased at some sources. I think it is pretty safe no one is going to consider a $50 plus sheet of plywood.

    I also have a full shop and agree it is not worth the time it takes. Go mow yards you can make more money in the same time as it would take to order them. A woodworker has a desire to get out in the shop. This adds to the benefits of making your own. but even with that it is barely worth it for me. Time in my shop would be far more quality if spent it making a bow rather than 100 veeeery boring frames.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,227

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    As soon as I get a band saw I'll be starting in on the load of frames I need to make since I want all narrows for the brood nest. Less waste with the band saw, I get a "free" top bar from each blank.

    The other advantage is that if you want to make non-standard sized hive boxes for some reason, you can still use standard style frames. I'm thinking of trying some extra deep boxes this year for brood (standard 1x12 width, whatever that is) and I can easily make my own frames, or just end bars if I want.

    Here's what I do:

    Find some nice straight, flat 2 by stock (any width, but 8 or 10 inch is easier). Cut to 19" long or a shade less, then run through the planer to get it as close to flat as possible without taking more than 1/16" off each side. Joint one side true -- the other will be waste most likely.

    Set up the table saw to cut an angled cut across the end for the angled end (18 degrees, I think -- I just match a Kelley top bar). Cut the slot in both sides of the 2 by blank.

    Repeat for a pile of blanks -- this is one job you need to do in discrete steps, that way once you get it set up correctly you can make a couple hundred at a time.

    Set up the band saw to rip the blank into double bars the correct width (7/8" for narrows, 1 1/16" for standard top bars). Cut the whole pile of blanks. Discard any thin or knotty ones -- always a surprise in that 2 by somewhere.

    Set the band saw up to split the doubles exactly in half (another reason to plane the blanks down a bit, they will all be exactly the same thickness). Split the doubles into singles.

    Set up the table saw with the dado blade to cut the notches in the sides 1/16" to 1/8" deep. Cut all the bars, both sides, both ends using a boat or a correctly set slide. Double check for square before cutting, and make sure you have the inside edge of the slot exactly 1" from the end of the bar.

    Set the dado higher to cut the correct depth on the bottom of the bar to get 5/8" of material left. Cut both ends -- this will cut off the extra under the taper.

    I use a wedge type bar, so I cut a single kerf just off center so that the center of a sheet of foundation will be exactly in the center of the top bar, then cut another kerf to almost free a strip on the thin side. For grooved top bars just cut a centered kerf.

    Top bars are done.

    Plane down some 2 by stock to the correct width for your end bars. Narrow frames need 1.25", standard 1.375". Cut some sections of planed down 2 by to the correct length for the frames you are making. Don't remember the exact dimensions off the top of my head, but they are standard. Set the dado blade for the correct width to fit your top bars (measure!) and mill a slot across one end of the blocks 5/8" deep. Best to do this in a couple passes, at least on my saw. Again, you can use a "boat" jig, it's safer.

    Mill whatever slot you need in the bottom of the end bars -- i use 2 slots 1/8" apart that are 5/16" x 5/16" for square bars that size for a divided bottom bar, you can use whatever you like.

    Set the band saw up to cut the blocks into end bars lengthwise. Purchased end bars run close to 5/16", I've made most of mine so far at 3/8", they are a bit stronger that way. Make sure they are just a tiny bit narrower than the slot you cut in the top bars so they slide together. Slice your blocks into end bars.

    Set up a jointer to cut 1/8" deep and cut the sides down on the end bars if you want to make Hoffman style bars, or just leave them full width, either works. Supposed to be less propolis with the Hoffman style.

    Cut the bottom bar of your choice. I've been using up scrap for mine, although it's also easy to cut them from the left overs and 2 by stock. If you use 3/8" end bars, the bottom bars will be 17 3/4" long.

    I hand drill the holes for the cross wires, but I'll probably fix up a drill jig this year to get them spaced better and closer to the center of the bars. I like cross wires.

    Assemble with glue and nails. Verify that the frames are square and flat before the glue sets!

    This project works best if you do all of one step before moving on to the next. I'm collecting scrap 2 by at the moment (got some nice 2 x 10 cedar at Menard's in the scrap bin for 69 cents a couple weeks ago). Once I get enough to give me the 100 or so top bars I want this year, I'll get going and start filling cardboard boxes with partially done work. It's pretty boring -- doing the same job over and over and over, but it's pretty fast once you get set up. Takes longer to set up each set than to do it most of the time, especially cutting the dados on the blocks for end bars. I highly recommend you make as many as you think you'll use in a couple years at once, that way you don't have to set up again.

    Peter

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,227

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Got a band saw this weekend, so once all the parts come in and I get it tuned up, I'll start some frames and post some pictures of the process.

    Gotta love Craigslist, eh?

    Peter

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,705

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    Thanks everyone! Yes, Peter, I'm looking forward to your pics. Thanks for the explanating you did, too. (or is that explaining?)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Do you make your own frames? Please show me how!

    I don't see the cost effectiveness in making your own frames when you can get them for 90 cents and below from suppliers.

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