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  1. #1
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    Building a Mini-Shop from the Slab Up

    Hey all.

    Very new to frame building. Took two different ~100 hour frame building workshops in the past year, and would like to build a shop of my own in my backyard.

    I have a 8' x 16' concrete slab in my yard. I also have a great TIG unit that pulses and is a champ. Also a junky MAPP unit. That's all I have.

    I don't even have a bench, or a vise, or any tools except for a few old files. Everything in my workshops was obviously provided for me as a part of my tuition.

    My time and interest would be to improve my skills and build 2-3 bikes a year.

    What would the start-up cost be for a basic, simple shop if you already had a good welder but nothing else?

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The Real Estate cost is the Big one. .. I spent part a week with a British old school custom builder .

    He had a bunch of files *, an Oxy /gas torch and lots of experience... + The tap and die set to finish the prep .

    * sharp ones not 'old ' ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-06-13 at 02:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    I can't answer your question but the way you phrased it is interesting. You need the same stuff and skills to build 50 frames a year as you do to build 2.5.

    I personally would start with a 1T flat bed chevy truck and a 10,000 lbs fork lift (propane powered). I would then buy a demo saw and a police scanner. My next purchase would be a bridgeport miller and a 5/8", 4 flute end mill, then 1,000 lbs of C.R.saw drops from your local steel supplier.

    Once you have completed this PM me.
    1886 Surrey machinists Invincible, 1900 Nashua, 1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 Raleigh Silver Record, 1951 Armstrong tourmalet, 1970 Motobecane Grand Record, 1971 Raleigh Professional, 1971 Gitane TDF, 1972 Legnano Gran Primio, 1973, Peugeot PX-10, 1975 Roberts, 1984 Battaglin Giro, 1985 Grandis Speciale, 2012 FTW

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  4. #4
    Senior Member calstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyBing View Post

    What would the start-up cost be for a basic, simple shop if you already had a good welder but nothing else?
    Way too broad of a question for any meaningful guesstimate, there are about a gazillion variables in play. For starters, you have the skills to build the structure yourself, understand the building codes/permiting process in your location, etc., etc.? While you're figuring out the structure itself then start researching what shop equipment you need, then research some more, then some more(hard to believe this isn't trolling).

    Brian
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  5. #5
    tuz
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    If you are asking how to build the structure I can't help you. Regarding the equipment needed I would have thought you would have an idea from the courses you took? Try to reconcile what you know vs. the space you have and your budget. There have been a few threads about that but I can't find them; like Brian said costs can vary greatly. I'm running on the minimum. My workspace is 8x8 plus a bunch of crap in the way, and my only power tool is a drill. The smallest drill press from FTW's shop likely wouldn't fit
    homebuilt commuter, mixte, road and track (+ Ryffranck road)
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  6. #6
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuz View Post
    If you are asking how to build the structure I can't help you. Regarding the equipment needed I would have thought you would have an idea from the courses you took? Try to reconcile what you know vs. the space you have and your budget. There have been a few threads about that but I can't find them; like Brian said costs can vary greatly. I'm running on the minimum. My workspace is 8x8 plus a bunch of crap in the way, and my only power tool is a drill. The smallest drill press from FTW's shop likely wouldn't fit
    I started out with a Craftsman drill press as my only power tool. Then I got two 100mm makita grinders with burned switches (from powering with DC) and a 12" chop saw but I started gathering tools at age 15. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that it's pretty easy to find big machines at very reasonable prices.

    The real benefit of owning machines is making your own tooling. I would feel severely limited if I didn't have a real miller and a decent tool room lathe
    1886 Surrey machinists Invincible, 1900 Nashua, 1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 Raleigh Silver Record, 1951 Armstrong tourmalet, 1970 Motobecane Grand Record, 1971 Raleigh Professional, 1971 Gitane TDF, 1972 Legnano Gran Primio, 1973, Peugeot PX-10, 1975 Roberts, 1984 Battaglin Giro, 1985 Grandis Speciale, 2012 FTW

    frankthewelder@comcast.net

    le prix s'oublie,la qualité reste ,(michel audiard)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
    I started out with a Craftsman drill press as my only power tool. Then I got two 100mm makita grinders with burned switches (from powering with DC) and a 12" chop saw but I started gathering tools at age 15. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that it's pretty easy to find big machines at very reasonable prices.

    The real benefit of owning machines is making your own tooling. I would feel severely limited if I didn't have a real miller and a decent tool room lathe
    That's interesting Frank, the biggest machine I have is my Craftsman drill press! Goes to show how different it can be for different people and their own approach. OP, first you'd better build a roof and walls, that way you can pursue this any direction you want. If you're going to do it like Frank, or me, it'll still be a boatload of $$ before you're skilled either in materials or tools. Of course it's still far less expensive than getting into car racing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Ryan View Post
    ...Of course it's still far less expensive than getting into car racing.
    Anything is cheaper than getting into racing haha.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mudboy's Avatar
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    Look at what Craig Ryan (a regular on Velocipede Salon) did here - https://plus.google.com/photos/10008...761?banner=pwa

    Small shop, lots of organization.

    Edit: And a regular here. Hi Craig!
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  10. #10
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
    I would feel severely limited if I didn't have a real miller and a decent tool room lathe
    I wish I had room for a real mill and a decent lathe.

  11. #11
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    OP: First, I would recommend expanding the slab to about 24x24 feet in total area (doesn't have to be square), assuming you are "only needing a build shop" and not a combo shop that also is to cover materials storage, retail space, etc. That will give you room to later decide on how big a shop you need, but remember that it is only a year or so after you have built a shop that you realize it should have been larger!

    Think of it being 4 each 12x12 foot work areas (a TIG space, a Braze space, a Mill Space, and a Layout & Jig up space. Or similar to meet your needs.

    I am sure others will reply that they build 500 frames a year in a 6x5 foot shop while on their knees due to the 4 foot low ceiling ...and so be that.

    /k
    Last edited by ksisler; 09-08-13 at 10:30 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudboy View Post
    Look at what Craig Ryan (a regular on Velocipede Salon) did here - https://plus.google.com/photos/10008...761?banner=pwa

    Small shop, lots of organization.

    Edit: And a regular here. Hi Craig!
    Ditto on Craig's shop ... a lot of nice, well organized 'shop' reflected in the pix. I snitched several ideas from them for a few areas not yet pondered out for mine!

    /k

  13. #13
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    The builder needs to be creative first and foremost. Once he starts up a volume operation, then the big tools come in handy to reduce build times.
    You will need a 3" or 4" vice, 8" bastard(I also have 4 and 6 inch bastards, plus 3 sizes of round files, but they are not necessary) and jewelers metal files, emery cloth in multiple grits(1 inch rolls are nice, but not necessary), simple grinder with two wheels, one dressed round the other a wire wheel. a hand drill for sure to drill holes for breathers and H2O placements. Three 3" clamps to hold cable guides and other things. Work bench should be large enough to handle the frame and vice on it at the same time. I use a 6 foot bench that is 24 inches deep (think kitchen countertop).
    The beauty of the steel bike is that minimal tooling is needed to build one. You don't even need the super duty steel flat surfaces for alignment or jig set up.
    The frame building classes should have put out a minimalist tool list for you to work from.
    I have built all my frames on weekends taking only 4 weekends to build each one. I have no drill press or mill or flat surface. The things ride beautifully. I use gas and lugs, not electric welding so my needs may be a bit different from yours especially the frame jig to hold things in place for welding.

    Make a list of the above tools and price it out. I am sure I have overlooked a few things, but it really doesn't take a lot to build frames as a hobby.
    As for the structure, the sky is the limit if you really want, but a garage will do nicely. Even at 10 above Fahrenheit.

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