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I was wondering about how difficult building your own Langstroth hives is? I've got the plans downloaded off this site, and equipment readily available, but I'm doing this stuff for the first time. I guess what I really want to know is are there any specific details about building these boxes that I should really pay careful attention to? I mean, it just seems like building boxes with a jig; is it really that easy? Also, are the plans on this site the best ones, or is there anyplace else I should look?
 

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They are easy to build but can be time consuming. Get measurements right, double check and get square. I make all my own cause I have more time than money. The plans on the site are fine.
 

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A box is a box is a box.

As long as the dimensions accommodate use of standardized frames and have the interior dimensions, you shouldn't worry too much.

Each person can determine for themselves what type of wood to use, paint or weather proof coating, type of joint to use (finger, butt, rabbet, etc...)

Your geography will tell you more what might be better than someone from another area.

if you are like most beekeepers, you will want to keep the bees health first and foremost in consideration and take that into your materials and plans as you go. ( for example, the use of some glues or woods made with certain glues might prove a health hazard for bees, regardless of geography, bee aware of those types of things)

I like to test my boxes I build on my kids. if the box survives a week of being used as a car, step-ladder, bench, spaceship, and whatever else their imaginations come up with, I figure it is tough enough to be used on a hive and bumped around a bit. Next step is to weather proof it.

Just my two cent

Big Bear
 

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I build all my own boxes, and buy cheap lumber whenever I can. Frames are another story, I built a small batch of frames, so I know I can, but frames seem better bought.
 

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Depends also what kind of equipment you have at your disposal. I have a table saw, Mitre saw, air compressor w/ brad nailer, stapler, finish nailer, etc. - so building is a piece of cake for me.

I build my own boxes, screened bottom boards (see Ross's website, "www.myoldtools.com/Bees"), telescoping covers, hive stands, and inner covers. About all I don't build myself are the frames. I don't know that it is any less expensive to build them, but I enjoy the carpentry almost as much as the bees.

Now, if all you have is a handsaw and a hammer, I would stick with buying.
 

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I have built some and bought some.
There is the satisfaction of knowing you have done them yourself.
Be sure and check out the prices on buying them first. If you are planning on doing ten or more you can get price breaks when you order.
With wood prices like there are sometimes it is cheaper to buy them.
You also must consider how much time you have before you may need them.

My son and I have done his complete just so he can say that he did them himself, and this gave him a little woodshop time.
Good luck whatever way you decide to go.
 

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I bought my first hive. Made the second plus frames,screened bottom, etc.

This winter I'm building more whenever I can get in the shop. Currently making frames from recycled redwood.

But, I have the tools and enjoy the wood crafting hobby. The beekeeping gives me a reason to be in an unheated shop this time of year. Plus doing something to keep my mind occupied when I can't be out there "mollesting" the bees:D
 

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A few years ago, a friend of mine, a commercial beekeeper who was getting out of beekeeping due to health reasons, gave me a pallet of unassembled medium 10-frame supers (cut for finger-jointed corners). They had been stored outdoors and most of the end pieces had been damaged beyond repair, while most of the sides were as good as new.

It is now several years later and I still have a few hundred supers yet to be assembled. Since I predominantly use 8-frame rather than 10-frame, the missing end pieces, in some ways, made it easier to assemble these as 8-frame supers.

I've experimented and used several different cuts to complete groups of supers. Most challenging was cutting replacement end pieces with matching fingers. Presently I favor trimming the fingers, which are 3/4" long, by half, so they are only 3/8" long, then I make replacement end pieces that are the width I chose for my 8-frame supers (13-3/4" outside width), I cut three 3/8" deep rabbet's in these end pieces, one on each side to match with the side pieces and one across the inside top for the frame rests. When these are assembled there are small gaps where the end piece fingers would normally be, but there are no actual openings. These gaps could be sealed up in several different ways, but I plan to leave them open to see how they do.

I have also made some boxes from scratch, where I still favor the use of end pieces with three rabbets, because they are very easy to produce. Taking much less time than some other joints used to produce box corners. I have also been thinking of trying some other methods of creating box corners, one I have heard of is a router bit cutter that cuts a locking miter edge that joins the box edges without any end grain exposure either outside or inside.

I've also been adding cleats to the ends of all my supers, I add them to reinforce the frame-rest rabbet and to provide convenient carrying handles.
 

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Anybody using blind dovetails for the corner joint. I've build a lot of boxs with this joint and have to say they go together solid as a rock (with glue and staples). It so much faster that finger joints and I believe stronger than rabbited joints -- lots of gluing surface. I takes a little trial and error with scraps to set up the jig, but once set up it's an assembly line. I bught a jig from Rocklers for around $100. Amortised over a lot of hive bodies it's a good investment in my opinion.
 

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-I have also been thinking of trying some other methods of creating box corners, one I have heard of is a router bit cutter that cuts a locking miter edge that joins the box edges without any end grain exposure either outside or inside. -

Joseph,

The lock miter is what I use. Very stable joint. Lots of glue surface. No end grain. Self squaring.

Once the setup is done, cutting the joints goes pretty fast.

Draw backs are: you need a router that is variable speed and a sturdy router table. I'm using the 1/2" shank on a bit that is about 2 1/4" diameter to cut the joint in 7/8" pine.
 

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I had thought of using the lock miter joint, but have worries about joining end-grain with this method. It works well when joining two boards long grain (side) to long grain, but with joining end grain I fear the main thing holding the joint would be the glue. With the half-blind dovetail there's the "wedge" effect which draws the joing together (and also evens out some warpage). There is some end grain showing, but only about a quarter inch. If properly made the joint also tends to be self-squaring.
 

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Hello Bernanos et al. The building of your own equipment gives a lot of satisfaction in addition to keeping the bees. The building of your own equipment gives you the chance to experiment with different ideas. And so it is with the corner joints for the boxes. We have finger joint , blind dovetail and Miter Lock boxes. All of them do well, although the oldest ones, the ones with finger joints show their age and some will have to be replaced. The blind dovetails are doing well and have the advantage that with a good jig you rout two ends at one time (just make sure the pieces are square in the jig!). The Miter Lock joints are the most satisfying as they have lots of glue space (I use no nails or screws), they are almost self-squaring and I can cut the sides to the length and width of the boxes right away, no trimming or ripping to size. Miter Lock joints are great also for 3/4" plywood (Some was given to me and so I had to use it). but you have to have patience with the initial set-up. By the way, on plywood I use cleats so there will be no delaminaton of the plywood. I am also becoming convinced that cleats are better, especially in cold climates as there is no thinning of the material. Have you seen any of the heat sensing photos? Oh well, all the above is only my opinion and we all come to this hobby or business with different backgrounds, experiences and motivations. I am retired, have time and interest and want to have fun. Hope the same for you, take care.
 

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I was wondering about how difficult building your own Langstroth hives is?

The table saw will determine how satisfied you are with the results...

I bought a cheap saw, which would be fine if not for the ultra-cheap miter gauge. I cut the pieces to make 10 or so hive-top feeders and some stands and the cuts looked real nice... until I glued, and assembled the first one.

If you don't have access to a nice saw, and you buy a cheaper one I would suggest that you build a "crosscut sled"

Here is a video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLFDmRp9XQY

The next thing I make will be a "sled"

Oh... cheap dado blades are cheap! but that's why we buy them.;)
 

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I really want to know is are there any specific details about building these boxes that I should really pay careful attention to?
The interior end-to-end dimensions, the height of the boxes, and the depth of the frame rest rabbit should to be cut accurate within a 1/16" inch.

I like to have slightly less than 3/8" space between the tops of the frames and the top of the box and have the bottom of the frames flush with the bottoms of the boxes. Paint and propolis on the top and bottom edges of the boxes will add a bit of space too.

I have seen some new commercial boxes with almost 1/2" spacing between bottom and tops of the frames. The bees used so much brace comb that it was almost impossible to pry out a frame without prying it apart.
 

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bernanos,
Even with the lock miter I use 1/4" x 1 1/4" crown staples. and titebond II glue. I made a horendous mistake (what is it? measure once cut twice?) and had to saw the joint apart. There was no way to disassemble without destroying the whole box. Fortunately I was able to recut the sides to make ends!
 

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Alex,
I agree with you about the handholds. On the boxes I make I use cleats on the end sides. What is the sense of making boxes 7/8" thick only to cut a thin spot on two if not four sides? Besides the cleats are readily available from scrap.
 

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If you have a little bit of the woodworking gene in you, building your own boxes is not difficult. We build all of our boxes, bottoms, and lids. We buy our frames. Glue everything and use staples, nails, or brads, best in my opinion is staples.
 

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Anybody using blind dovetails for the corner joint. I've build a lot of boxs with this joint and have to say they go together solid as a rock (with glue and staples). It so much faster that finger joints and I believe stronger than rabbited joints -- lots of gluing surface. I takes a little trial and error with scraps to set up the jig, but once set up it's an assembly line. I bught a jig from Rocklers for around $100. Amortised over a lot of hive bodies it's a good investment in my opinion.
 
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