View Full Version : Frames

Jan 13th 2011, 06:53 AM
I asked the question on another thread (weather) but figured this one might be more appropriate.
Anybody make their own frames from scratch and have you got any pictures?
It seems to me I have seen pictures of some frames that had no taper on the end bars, just straight up and down and butt joints at the top and bottom. I would have to wonder how they would hold up and whether the sides would be glued fast to each other by the bees.

Jan 13th 2011, 06:55 AM
Ben (Ben's bees) said he has been making a few, usually comes on late at night, maybe he could post a few pics.

Jan 13th 2011, 08:40 AM
Being a carpenter, I could make as many as I had scrap for, but they are so inexpensive, it just isn't worth my time. There are so many other tasks to be done.

Jan 13th 2011, 10:50 AM
I made lots at one time but buying by the pallet so cheap.
:yahoo: :goodpost:

Jan 14th 2011, 03:08 AM
Sure I could take some pics for you tomorrow.

The first frames I ever used were frames from Walter T. Kelley and they had no taper on them... then I switched to the Dadant frames which did, but that wasn't the reason I switched, the dadant frames were simply more stout and made from thicker wood which makes them last a few extra seasons. So when I started making my own frames I used the Dadant frames as my template so that my homemade frames are as thick and durable as they are.. but I did eliminate the taper because I never saw any need for it. With the taper my bees glue the frames down just as much if not moreso than they did with the Kelley frames that didn't have a taper. The only other modification I made was I don't drill holes in the side bars because I use plasticell foundation instead of wired wax foundation... so I figure that's one less hiding place for SHB.

I used to think they weren't worth my time to build as well, but I just spent less than 2 days to make 250 full frames and side bars for another 200... and my total out of pocket expense to make that many? $10. $13 if you count gas to and from home-depot where I picked up some cull lumber. It would have cost me at least $200 by the time shipping was factored in to order them, so that was 2 days spent saving $190... As Ben Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned... only that was a long time ago before all the payroll taxes and social security/medicare/other taxes and whatnot... so today a penny saved is worth 2 pennies earned. Is two days of my time spent out in my shop doing what I love worth $380? You better believe it! :thumbsup:

The only other thing that had been holding me back from making them was figuring out how to make the side pieces... but after a little trial and error I came up with a simple solution... make them out of 6 1/4" sections of 2xwhatever lumber you have available... I picked up some short 2x4, 2x10 and 2x12 pieces... dado out the top and bottom but do so 1/8th inch to one particular side (the 2x lumber is 1/8th inch too thick but we'll take care of that later)... then use a chop-saw to cut them into individual pieces... each 6 1/4" section of 2x4 makes between 5 and 6 sides and 2x12 made... I duuno how many but it was a lot of them... then go back to the table-saw to take off that extra 1/8th inch... now you've got a straight side... but you've still got to take off an extra saw-kerf's width on the bottom both front and back so you can rock the frames when pulling them out... so for that set the rip fence 1 saw kerf too close to fit the side piece between it and the blade and bolt in a backstop block at the right depth to keep your fingers out of the blade and then CAREFULLY cut out the the sides. You could do it with a band saw easier, or you could do it with a jigsaw if you absolutely had to, but if I had a band saw that'd be what I'd use... but I don't so I was able to use the table-saw just fine with the backstop block.

Edit: I just realized you were talking about tapers on the side bars not the top bars... ignore what I was saying about the dadant vs. kelley frames... both had tapered side bars... but the previous paragraph does go over how to taper them... I'll take some pics to give you a better idea on how to do it tomorrow.

Jan 15th 2011, 06:14 PM
I think these are the pictures you might be looking for:




Jan 15th 2011, 06:23 PM
Hey Ben
Those look good. Do you do them individually or do you cut a block on a bandsaw and then cut slabs the thickness of the end bars off? I can see how the bottom bars could be easily done but it is the end bars that look like they would be most difficult to make (the bottom of your end bars look beefier than the store bought). Do your top bars look like the store bought ones or have you done a different design?
Thanks for sharing.

Jan 16th 2011, 12:21 AM
For the sides, I start with 2x12 lumber although anything down to 2x4 lumber would work...

First thing I do is cut the 2"x12"x8' down into 15 blocks that are 2"x12"x6&1/4" (that's because the height of the side bars for medium depth frames is 6 and 1/4 inches... adjust accordingly if you're making frames for shallow supers or deeps).

Next stand the blocks upright and dado out the slots across the top and bottom of the blocks but make sure you do so 1/8th inch to one side or the other (doesn't matter which side, so long as both the top and bottom are both 1/8th inch over to the same side.... that's kinda hard to explain, so I'll take some more pics of that.

Once the blocks have grooves on the top and bottom of them, cut the side bars off the blocks... for that you could use a ban saw, I used a chop saw, or you could even use the table-saw.

At that point you have your side pieces only they are straight up and down and 1/8th inch too wide.... So now trim the 1/8th inch off the wide side of the piece, then trim an additional 1/8th to 3/16ths inch off both sides of the bottom of the side bar to give it that taper.

And that's it for the side bars.

The tops and bottoms are much easier... use the table saw to cut out a groove down the length of 1x whatever boards that is 3/8th's inches into the wood. Then cut the right width for the frame tops off the board and cut that piece down to the right length then dado off the bottom ends of it. and notch the sides with the dado blades as well so that the side bars will fit snugly... I have some more of those to make this weekend so I'll be able to get pics throughout that process for you.

Bottom bars are done pretty much like the top bars except that they are 1/2" x 3/4" so you cut the groove down the side of the 1x lumber then cut 1/2" strips off the ends before cutting them to length.

Jan 16th 2011, 07:41 AM
Thanks for the post and pics Ben, that is a bunch of saw work for those frames. Looks like you could use a band saw to cut them apart, but that would take a little longer than the chop saw, maybe safer though.

Be careful and whatch them fingers, don't want to call you lefty :roll:

Jan 17th 2011, 11:24 AM
those are very impressive frames,you must have lot of time on your hands. but your going to save money.


Jan 18th 2011, 09:28 PM
Alright so here's some more pics that better describe what I'm talking about... The first one shows a 2x6 that's cut to 6 1/4" long:

Then the next one shows how the ends are dado'd out. You can see how the dado's part is shifted to one side by 1/8th inch:

Now you can see how it's cut from the rest of the block with the chop-saw:

That's all the pics I had of the end bars, now here's the proceedure I use for the top bars... start with 1x lumber and dado out 3/16ths inch groove halfway through it, do one on each side to save time:

Then cut off strips from the board that are the same width as the top bars:

Cut them to the right length after that:

Now dado out the little notches on the side where you'll be attaching the side-bars:

Almost done:

Final step is dadoing off the end section so it sits at the right height, it's just slightly more than half. The one with the rounded corners is the one bought from Dadant whom I think generally has the best frames available to buy the other two are frames I made to compare it to:

I'm not sure why Dadant rounds over the ends like that, as far as I can tell it serves no purpose which is why I didn't do it. It would be easy to do if there was some reason for it.

Jan 19th 2011, 05:37 AM
Good looking stuff Ben, thanks for posting the pics. :coolphotos:

Jan 19th 2011, 08:06 AM
And you still got to put them together. Are you using a jig to assemble your frames like 10 at a time. I made one years ago that is patterened after Kelley's.

Jan 20th 2011, 01:42 AM
I'm not yet, but at some point I might make one. Right now I'm just doing them by hand... BUT... this year I've added 2 new nail guns to my toolbox... an 18 guage finish nailer that I use for the frames, and a 15 guage that I use for the rest of the equipment. It has made a really big difference in my assembly time, stuff that used to take a whole day (8-10 hrs of worktime) now just takes 1-2 hours. That was my christmas present to myself that I got under the guise of giving my wife her christmas present (hardwood floors). It was a win-win.