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  1. #1
    Devourer of souls Dead Roman's Avatar
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    Want to get into fame building.

    I have been thinking about starting up my own frame building business building some of the stuff I have been seeing in my head lately. This is a pretty vague question but, where is a good place to start? I have done some welding but not much on aluminum and only a little on titanium. Where could I go to take a course? would a general metal working or welding class at my college be a good idea?
    The road of life is winding, but the pavement is smooth

  2. #2
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    If you have two weeks and a couple of thousand dollars, take the United Bicycle Institute two week frame building class and take your finished frame home with you. They have courses in chrome-moly brazing, chrome-moly TIG welding, and titanium frame building.
    - Stan

  3. #3
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    with that same 2k and 2 weeks you could go to Yamaguchi as well.

  4. #4
    Parts Guy Gravity Worx's Avatar
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    I'm sure that frame building class is awesome at the United Bicycle Institute.
    I'm thinking though that some welding classes, at least some basic stuff would be almost mandatory. For something of that level, I've just got to believe that a person with metal experience or at least some training would probably get more out of it.

    Now this all being said, I'm in no way any sort of expert on the subject of frame building, these are just my initial thoughts when reading the original post.

    So my highly unprofessional opinion would be to maybe take some welding, or at least get some practice in with the help of someone who knows what they are doing.
    Then take that 2 week course and get the most out of it as you can.

  5. #5
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    No insult intended whatsoever here. But if you want to be a professional framebuilder, take business classes, marketing, accounting etc.

    Being successful is not about building bikes, that is the easy part. The harder part is staying in business.

    Getting back to your question. Sounds like you have some general experience. The forums (frameforum.net) and the framebuilders list are excellent resources. Scoure those and then make frames and more frames. The schools are awesome. Some framebuilders give courses like Doug Fattic and some can just go it alone but my best advice is to go at it completely from a hobby point of view and if you still love it after you have made your 20th and you are doing good work, then start thinking about a good business plan and hanging a shingle.

    All the best,

    Dave Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles

  6. #6
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    You know, I think the frame classes really cater to people who want the experience but not necesarilly to go into business. I'm sure some do go their with the hope, and others for the experience mainly, but my guess is that few folks in business today came from a school. If a person can't figure out how to cope a tube with all the huge resources available on the net, videos, or books then I really, does think that person belong in the manual arts. What happens next? You set up shop, and need a mechanic's work bench, and it's off to school again? Just do the math on the number of gradutes/year from the various schools, then ask yourself how many popular custom frame builders there are out there. I;m guessing there are probably 10x the graduates form the schools in a year that showed at NAHBS this year.

    Figure out where what you want to do fits into the market, get some exposure that would get you clients, work at a bike shop, become a member of the local scene, do something brilliant with a web presence. People have to want what you have. Once you know what it is people want, then you can tailor your process to producing it. The fact people who are successful in crafts (actually frames aren't so bad this way) mainly teach, write, own webste forums, sell tools, etc... should tell you what to expect.

    Oddball creative ideas are often something you should keep to yourself, or you just invented the next microsoft. Often they allienate people who can't get a hold of your idea, which is really too bad. That's the kind of thing I like, but I keep it to myself.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    No insult intended whatsoever here. But if you want to be a professional framebuilder, take business classes, marketing, accounting etc.

    Being successful is not about building bikes, that is the easy part. The harder part is staying in business.

    Getting back to your question. Sounds like you have some general experience. The forums (frameforum.net) and the framebuilders list are excellent resources. Scoure those and then make frames and more frames. The schools are awesome. Some framebuilders give courses like Doug Fattic and some can just go it alone but my best advice is to go at it completely from a hobby point of view and if you still love it after you have made your 20th and you are doing good work, then start thinking about a good business plan and hanging a shingle.

    All the best,

    Dave Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles
    Dave has nailed it. Remember that if you want to be a professional framebuilder the main thing isn't building the bikes but it's selling them. If you don't sell any then you don't have anything to build. All those welding skills won't help you at all if the phone doesn't ring or if you lack the social skills to deal with customers and close the sale. The "build it and they will come" thing doesn't work here and it's been proven time and time again by countless builders that tell you "you can't make money in this business".

    As for the building part...........most folks concentrate on the welding/brazing. I can tell you that, while it's important it's far from the most important part. Think of it this way.........say you're building a TIG welded frame and it take you 10 hours to build. Roughly speaking it will take about 1 hour (or only 10% of the total build time) to do the welding. The other 90% of the build time is taken up by the less glamorous but no less important stuff like mitering, finishing, aligning, machining, shaping, checking clearances....etc. It's mostly the etc. stuff. Put another way, a welder isn't a framebuilder but a framebuilder is most certainly a welder (or in my case a brazer).

    But I feel I need to make the point again just to be sure. The one man frame shop means that the builder needs to wear ALL the hats and wear them well for the business to work. You will be the -

    accountant
    purchase agent
    inventory control guy
    garbage man
    sales man
    shipping guy
    janitor
    etc.

    oh..........and you also need to be able to build.

    Best of luck. If you have all the stuff it's a fun way to make a living.

    Dave

  8. #8
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    if i ever build frames as nice as either one of you (dave and dave) i'd have a hard time letting any of them go....

  9. #9
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    Schools/classes

    -UBI-2weeks
    -TIG, or Brazing (lugged or fillet brazed) or Ti TIG
    -Yamaguchi
    -Hot Tubes-1 week, includes paint
    -Mint Cycles- 1 week
    -Doug Fattic
    -BREW bicycles (www.brewracingframes.com)

    Online resources:
    www.phred.org
    -archive for the framebuilders list serv. Searchable archive.

    www.frameforums.net

    also there are several BLOGS from builders out there. Tom Oswald has some framebuilding movies on You tube.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Go to Hollywood, hire a great agent, party your ass off, sleep around lots...

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sir Lunch-a-lot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Go to Hollywood, hire a great agent, party your ass off, sleep around lots...
    That's FAME building, not FRAME building.
    Pythagorean Theorum: 24 words. Lord's Prayer: 66 words. 10 Commandments: 179 words. Gettysburg Address: 286 words. Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words. U.S. Government Regulations on the Sale of Cabbage: 26,911 words.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Here's an idea. Just call up some local framebuilders and see if you can pay them $2k for a custom class. This is a bit of a risky move though because one guy posted on another forum that he did this and the builder who was his teacher was totally unprepared to actually teach and didn't even have a set course or lesson plan ready. Good framebuilder though.

    My vote is for a one-on-one instruction or at least a small group, so I'm gonna agree with the names thrown up there so far if you decide you don't want to learn on your own. In no particular order:
    - Doug Fattic
    - Hottube
    - Mint Cycles
    - Yamaguchi

    And don't be too worried if some of the classes are only 1 week long. For one, it's good because you only have to take off 1 week from work, and two even if you have to do final cleanup (ie removing flux) at your own house, it's really nothing you would need instruction on anyway.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

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  13. #13
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    There's a debate going in this thread http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=289480&page=3 about how easy it is to build a steel frame and why anyone would pay a premium for a handbuilt steel frame.

    Thought it would be interesting if some of you guys who actually do it might weigh in.

  14. #14
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    welding classes are fine and all but i find them silly, take the approach every kid learns how to weld, have some one show you and then go mess up a bunch of material. have a clear understanding of safety and buy a torch. i had to learn how to weld form my old man at around 12~13 so he would stop calling me a sissy. if 12~13yr old can learn by messing up material without injury, so can you

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