Process in becoming a framebuilder
Hello Framebuilders of the "framebuilders" forum!
I am not a framebuilder, just to let everyone know, but I'd like to know what exactly does one have to do to prepare to be one. I know there's no set process to, but there must be some things to do to "set me in the right direction". I am so interested, and really would like to be taken seriously. I'm not saying that I'll start frame building immediately (probably going to look for an apprenticeship int he next year or two), but I wanna learn the in's and out's of the whole thing.
and If you have any interesting stories to tell about how you got where you are today, I'd love to hear them!
(hopefully soon to be a fellowframebuilder)
You are right - there is no set or 'right' way to become a builder. I started working as a full time pro-builder in 1989 and it happened as much by luck as by planning.
I could give you pages of advice but instead of wasting your time by making you read advice that would have best given to someone else I'll ask you this - what do you want from building? Do you want to have some fun and make bikes for friend and family and have a cool and fun hobby? Do you want to work for a big company as a builder and earn your living that way? Do you want to set up your own shop and earn a living from building?
These are just a few of the paths you could take and they have require slightly different skills sets and training. They have more in common than not, but they are different.
So what do you think you want to do?
I want to make something with my hands. I feel I've always been good with that; you can say I'm meticulous whenever I'm on a project. The whole artisan aspect of the business is so interesting and it immediately caught my eye. I'd like to just start off by building my own frame, bike around. I'm definitely not thinking about opening shop anytime soon, but would definitely be glad too. Working for big business doesn't appeal to me. I just want to make things that people would really love and enjoy.
Originally Posted by Dave Kirk
hope that answers your question
There are a lot of both business, and in particular, getting started threads here already. Help yourself.
Making stuff is one thing, selling it another, and making your sales add up to a profitable enterprise a third. People can be successful to different degrees in the various boxes. Much of what makes a craft business successful has nothing whatever to do with building. And it goes without saying that those other bits are far more rewarded in other areas, which would tend to suggest that bike making would make a better hobby than a business, but then you run into the fact one can only own so many bikes, and the cost of making the first one would pay for a lifetime of custom frames, at least the way I went about it. So my feeling is that the main requirement to make frames is desire that passes by common sense. That won't take no for an answer thing.
If your aim isn't to quit your day job and start building bikes full time then your life will be much easier.
Here's what I would suggest. This is just one way to go about the process and there is no one 'right' way IMO.
First get the basic hand tools you will need and get comfortable using them. Make some blocks so you can hold into the tubes in your bench vise and practice cutting and filing. get the stuff you will need to hook the tubes together whether it be gas or tig torch and play with the stuff using scrap tubes. I wouldn't waste your time trying to build a bike at first. Just get used to the tools so they can do what you need to with them and be comfortable doing it.
After you get to this point go take a framebuilding course. If you are comfortable with your hand skills you will get MUCH more out of the course that you would otherwise. They will show you how to take this skills and apply them to the building of a frame. Most folks go about this in the other direction by the way and I can tell you it will be much harder.
So with a really fun one week course in your pocket and your basic skill developed you are ready to make yourself something fun.
I would also ad that if you have a local community college that offers welding or brazing courses that it time and money well spent. The welding/brazing may be the most important part of the build and it's the ;east time consuming so you don't get to practice it very much. I typically build a frameset is about 16 hours and only about 1 1/2 of those is with a torch lit so if I didn't know how to do it already I wouldn't have much time to practice it during the actual build.
Let me know if you need some scrap tube - I've got lots and could sent it for the cost of shipping.
Let me know if you have other questions.
thank you really for all this information. I do want to start this as a hobby but wasn't planning to start soon. I'm thinking in a couple years or when, when I get things settled, but this is all great. thanks dave and peter(pan1) for this.
and dave, I'll probably pm you a few years from now about that scrap tube haha
Originally Posted by hellojoben
It's a fun hobby and/or profession. Take your time and enjoy the process. And when the time comes let me know and I'll hook you up with some stuff to practice with. I have a huge bin that I've collected over the years just sitting in my basement and it's got to go.
I've gotten a few PM's related to this thread and I wish I could respond to them but I can't until I have 50 posts under my belt. So rather than make you wait for me to try to come up with another 20 or so things to say it might be best if you would email me directly. So if you have sent me a PM and haven't head back please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you ASAP.