Been sitting on this awhile now...my first frame recently back from powder coat and built up. Nothing fancy, just very large (if the top tube were horizontal it would be a 66cm frame.) Built with a torch, some files, a bench clamp, some chunks of angle iron, and a magnetic protractor. Also a few choice words here and there. Proud to say that it came out very straight, aligned within a millimeter via string method at the seat tube, and rides very nicely, stable at low and high speeds. Best road frame I've ridden that actually fit me!
Pretty much taught myself how to do this by scouring this forum for a few months and reading the free version of Paterek, then jumped in. Had a lot of fun problem solving due to not having a lot of the specialized tools or a jig available.
Anyway, big thanks to everyone past and present here whose knowledge I gleaned!
Congratulations. That thing looks fantastic. I've wanted to jump into frame building for awhile now but I've been scared off by some of the professional's comments. Do you have any tips for a first time builder?
Biggest tip is don't be scared! I believe if you read enough, think carefully, and go slow, anyone can end up with a straight, rideable bike using minimal tooling. At least as good as an off the shelf frame, but with the benefit of having enjoyed the process of making it. Keep in mind that despite the way frame building gets talked about, these things don't need to be built to aerospace tolerances. In the end, its "just" a bicycle.
I built a frame or two using the eyeball the ht/st alignment method. Of course, you also have to check that the DT is parallel to the sides of the BB shell or you have real problems. There was a post from someone on the framebuilders email list that said he used that method for his first 100 frames. It's really slow, and you have to be meticulous, and you still might end up with a crooked frame, so it's not for everyone. OTOH, you can easily end up with a crooked frame if you rely on your fixture too much, so there's that to consider as well.
Unfortunately, I can't use this method anymore, eyes are bad.
Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Raleigh Pro, Trek Cycle Cross, Mongoose tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder
If you don't spin out when doing parking lot auto cross you don't learn... Some of the issue i have with this interweb frame discussion is the lack of allowing to make a mistake.
Aligning a bike during the build has a number of methods that all, if done well, can produce a well riding bike. As many have said before, it's how you use your tools, not which tools you own. Andy.