Framebuilders Thinking about a custom frame? Lugged vs Fillet Brazed. Different Frame materials? Newvex or Pacenti Lugs? why get a custom Road, Mountain, or Track Frame? Got a question about framebuilding? Lets discuss framebuilding at it's finest.

Tooling

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Old 04-12-18, 09:48 AM
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BigPoser
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Tooling

I love tools. Anything that helps make jobs easier and more efficient. With that in mind, I'd like to get some tools for my framebuilding. Since there are many well experienced frame makers in here, what are the tools, jigs, etc that you recommend?

I have my eye on a frame jig already, and was thinking of reamers, and a tap and face set, but I'm unsure on what else to look at.

All suggestions are welcome!

Thanks in advance.

Brandon
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Old 04-12-18, 09:55 AM
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if you want to go crazy, Anvil and Sputnik have websites. Although last I looked, Anvil pretty much just pointed you to their flickr.

As far as smaller fixtures, I have the Anvil cantilever boss tool and "finger of God" for using it to hold brake bridges. It's amazing how many crooked brake bridges there are in the world. I also have the Anvil Post Punk disc caliper fixture. There is a rear adapter for flat mount, but it might just be better to get the Incepi flat mount fixtures. My favorite fixture is my Anvil fork fixture. Makes fork building so much nicer.

If you watch the classifieds at various sites, people have been selling fixtures recently. Mitering fixtures seem to go on the market relatively frequenly. But you need a mill for that.

You can go crazy with fixtures. Both Anvil and Sputnik have braze on fixtures. I just use modified welding pliers for that.

Bringhelli has some fixturing that he makes. The one that I have been interested in is the front derailleur mount fixture.
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Old 04-12-18, 03:24 PM
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was the guest of a frame builder in Nottingham he had a rack of hand files , a lot of half round ,

a bench vise with wooden blocks to grip the round tubes , and the brazing torches & tanks ..
he made pro race frames for people.. shop in ground floor of a 300+ year old house..

some jigs to locate V brake bosses , drilling water bottle boss holes , made rather than bought.

now a fluxing torch seems a good idea.... a guy in another part of Oregon made a pedal powered hole saw turner, that cut tube miters..





..

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Old 04-12-18, 09:06 PM
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The first serious tool I would get, again, is a flat surface. No jig will insure straight frames. The second tool really isn't, it's time to practice and discover.


What would I put off for as long as I could? A jig.


I would also suggest checking out Alex Meade's tooling. Home Andy
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Old 04-12-18, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
The first serious tool I would get, again, is a flat surface. No jig will insure straight frames. The second tool really isn't, it's time to practice and discover.


What would I put off for as long as I could? A jig.


I would also suggest checking out Alex Meade's tooling. Home Andy
Thanks Andy. I totally understand what you mean regarding the jig not being 100%, but doesn't it help simplify the process? I know it's been beat to death, but is there a particular surface table that you use/prefer? I like the Bringheli as well as the Wolverine Bronze table that Doug Fattic uses and recommends.

I've looked at the flat plate frame fixtures that Alex sells. Really cool! I've always wondered though; how does someone print out full size frame designs? Do you have to take the files somewhere specific? Are the files themselves specific?
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Old 04-12-18, 10:04 PM
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I use Alex Meade's free standing fixture. I create the design in bikecad then draw it full size on drafting paper. He makes really nice tooling, I highly suggest taking a look at his stuff. The above mentions are also great, the Anvil fork fixture is a thing of beauty.
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Old 04-12-18, 10:31 PM
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When I was using a full scale drawing there was no internet or digital files. We used a ruler, pencil and trig tables. These days one can use a design program (again showing my age, no apps in my terminology), load the file onto a portable device and go to a printer firm who has a large enough printer. Businesses that work with blueprints are one source for this. Maybe Kinkos/FedEx centers also? Or one can still manually draw out the design on paper themselves. In fact I suggest this initial way. Why? Same as why we learn long division when a calculator is available, or learn how to write long hand when a key board exists.


I have no specific flat surfaces to link to. I have worked on the table that Doug has. It's pretty nice for a non precision one, certainly flat enough for frame building. Bikes are pretty loose in their tolerances after all. It is kind of pricy though. My surface plate is cast steel and hand scraped. I was (still am) living in the part of the country where fabrication has been a way of life for many years (although going away) and old tool and die stuff is still about.


The plate I have is 2'x3' and if I were to do it again I would consider a 3'x4'. Although the weight would about double and when my plate slipped out of the moving sling my hand would have been really crushed, not just badly compressed. Andy (Who thought he was being careful)
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Old 04-12-18, 10:59 PM
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Frame Tools & Jigs

Thereís two ads on Pinkbike right now, one for an Alex Meade jig, the other for framebuilding tools. I have no connection with either seller....
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Old 04-13-18, 07:03 AM
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I know where Andy is coming from, and I don't fully disagree. If you are not sure about framebuilding, spending thousands on a fixture is a bad idea. But I think a fixture is a great thing to have, just removes one more worry. You still have to learn how to use it without introducing distortion. I have used a machine tool table for fixturing. It was very stressful and took a lot of time. A hobbyist might decide they have a lot of time though. If you are building to sell, a fancy fixture on your flickr account has a certain amount of marketing appeal. I used to post that I built a bike in a vise. I did, but years later, I realized it had problems that would have gone away had I used some fixturing. So I don't recommend it. I fixed the problems and I still ride that bike though.

Pick up a used one if you can. Seems like there are a lot of used Anvils. I think you will probably be able to get most of your money out of it. I feel like some of the lesser fixtures will be frustrating to use. They can be upgraded though.

I have used my milling machine table for alignment. Fixturing is easy, and it's a pretty decent reference surface. Then I managed to get a granite plate, problem with that is it's a boat anchor. If you are what you own, a good part of me is a big, heavy rock. Which might explain why I can't lose weight. And as heavy as it is, it isn't quite big enough for a single-setup measurement of alignment. The Bringheli style c-channel alignment system is pretty good.

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Old 04-13-18, 10:50 AM
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I believe that the most important tool for building frames is knowledge. Looking back on my own career, the best thing that ever happened to me was that I was able to apprentice with a master builder in England when American frame building knowledge was in its infancy. As a result, I am not embarrassed then or now by my early frames and I knew exactly what equipment I needed to get to make them faster. If I was to start over again I would look for the very best teacher I could find and let that experience guide the rest of my decisions. There are a lot of different ways (some a lot better than others) on how to build a frame and it is only smart to do what has been successfully done already by experts. Many builders methods are controlled by what tooling they bought instead of what works best. I would not want some fixtures that are available because they are either not accurate enough or more difficult than necessary to use. Frame builders live in a small world and it is not diplomatic to grade teachers or tooling out loud even though there is a wide range of quality.

I’ve been fortunate to develop my own fixturing over many years. Really it is a refinement of what the classic British builders and Alex Singer in France uses. Instead of a full scale drawing, the fixture is itself a movable drawing with scales built in that can hold tubes to the design to be spotted together. But more than that before that it can hold a stem and a seat/seatpost in the customer’s bike position to aid in the design. This approach of designing the frame around a person’s fit rather than fit a person to a frame is the foundation of my philosophy. Furthermore my fixture allows me to see in actual size if the frame looks proportional or if something needs to be changed (like adding a bit of sleeve above the head tube so there isn’t too much stem or stackers). By having them laser cut and etched in Ukraine (where we do a charity bike project that also allows my students to get frame making practice) I can sell them for $1000. The alignment accuracy is based off of the flat table it rests on. I don’t go out of my way to market them but have them available as a service to those that share a similar building philosophy.

Like Andy my 1st main tool would be some kind of flat alignment table. This is the foundation tool for building frames. It is possible to use a small 2’ X 3’ size but larger is more useful and versatile. My main table is 3’ X 4’ and made of cast iron. It must weigh 1000+ pounds. I also have a cast aluminum table made by Wolverine Bronze in Michigan. This table weighs less than 200 pounds and can be easily moved. Many of my frame building class students don’t have a place to put a heavy chunk of cast iron or granite so something lighter and more mobile is required. The aluminum one works well and is accurate to a few thousandth of an inch over its entire surface. A do-it-yourself pinching costs kind of person can use epoxy poured onto MDF board. Unterhausen's solution is a very good one for those that are space challenged or can find a good deal on one.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:11 AM
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Get a good selection of high quality files, big to small, mill bastard to fine-cut, round, half-round, flat, triangular. A good selection of abrasive cloth, coarse to fine. Good quality hacksaw blades and handle. Needle-nose vise-grips, locking c-clamps. Just a start …
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Old 04-14-18, 10:43 AM
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Big Poser

If you print each frame joint on A4 you can take ctr to ctr measurements from your CAD drawing, pin each a4 sheet the correct distance apart with drawing pins through trs.

Then rotate and aligh each sheet with a straight edge, glue down and draw in the tubes with your straight edge.

Make sense?
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Old 04-14-18, 02:46 PM
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Thanks all for your suggestions. I've been looking into the epoxy option and I also called my local steel surplus shop to get a quote for a 3'x4' 5/8" surface plate to have it Blanchard ground down to 1/2". Can't imagine it'll be too much for the plate, and then I can build a stand for it.

I've also been looking at these: https://weldtables.com/collections/p...ab-slot-u-weld, and grab the leg kit as well. Seems pretty good, but I'm not an expert either.

I've got a nice collection of files so far and am accumulating a fair amount of consumables as well. A surface plate and/or frame jig will be the biggest expense for me. At least for now, since I'm not going to get a mill or lathe anytime soon.
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Old 04-14-18, 05:43 PM
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The linked welding table top seems interesting. A couple of note though. Odd to combine both metric and fractional dimensions when describing the holes. No reference as to the lateral dimension that the flatness is taken over. The relatively thin plate will droop under it own weight. The ribs don't look to be very stable in the warping aspect. Slop to their slotting assembly will likely result in some droop if there is no solid and flat structure they rest on, or no height adjusters places at numerous locations under the ribs.


Before I would buy and set up this system I would want to do some more homework as to how best to both support and ensure the top's flatness. There are some vids on line that show others' methods of this. Sorry but I don't save every vid I look at, but they are out there. Andy
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Old 04-15-18, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BigPoser View Post
I love tools. Anything that helps make jobs easier and more efficient. With that in mind, I'd like to get some tools for my framebuilding. Since there are many well experienced frame makers in here, what are the tools, jigs, etc that you recommend?
I have my eye on a frame jig already, and was thinking of reamers, and a tap and face set, but I'm unsure on what else to look at.
All suggestions are welcome!
Thanks in advance.
Brandon
As others have suggested, a good flat plate, and a few accoutrements. 48"x36"x4" Grade B granite plates were a few hundred dollars when I got mine maybe 10 years ago. Basic vee blocks, HT cones, a relative height/scribe gauge and a machinist's square with an 8" blade, all at the same time. It was a long time before I got a whipping post.

As to a frame jig, if I had it to do over again (I build in lugs so this is somewhat lug-centric) I'd be using a plywood frame fixture similar to the design found in the Talbot framebuilding book for quite a while (I did so for a few frames), the fixture being used for tube fitup and pinning. Once pinned, thence to the table for an alignment you can count on, and then tacking/rechecking/correcting, prior to brazing. A fork fixture would come long before a frame jig for me; you can use the table but the jig makes it so much easier and quicker.

Expensive frame fixtures are way sexy and production shops need them but for an amateur there are numerous, inexpensive alternative tools and procedures. There is a raft of equipment that will get you farther and faster than a frame fixture and some of it can be home built (brake boss fixture, rear end fixture). A vise is mandatory; putting it on a pedestal, so you can walk around it, is extremely handy though some of the finest builders have it on a workbench corner (as I did for a long time). Drop-out alignment tools, BB/fork thread cutting, HT reaming/facing, BB facing tools, it gets to be a long and expensive list....a fancy, store bought frame fixture is nearly dead last in my book.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:55 PM
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John brings up a good point about vises. I have my vise on a pedestal, and it can rotate horizontally. That's really handy. I really haven't missed being able to torque on things. That's how vises get broken, I think. It's not like most of us have to take freewheels off very often.
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Old 04-15-18, 09:58 PM
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When I worked at Geo. Rennies Bicycle Shop in the late 1970s and early 1980s we had a huge vice mounted on a cement filled garbage can. A couple of us could walk it about with much difficultly, it weighed hundreds of pounds. For bike shop work way overkill. All my own vices, I have 3 mounted and a couple of others in the wings, are bench corner located. I have often thought back to that garbage vice (the vice wasn't garbage...) and wondered about duplicating it's free access. But it's not hard to just reposition the frame on the bench corner ones.


To me more important then complete free access is that the vice is solidly mounted and the bench doesn't move about while filing. Finishing a joint on a wiggling vice is like riding on the road with undamped suspension. Every stroke gives one pause. Andy
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Old 04-15-18, 10:52 PM
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well, my motto is "no file". Actually though, my pedestal is something I got out of a scrap pile. The ones you can buy are really stout, and would probably be worth the money. But I never have any problem hacksawing or filing miters. And I don't have room for a bench. I think I would miss not being able to rotate the vise. If I had more room, walking around it wouldn't be such a problem. Usually what I'm doing is rotating the item I'm brazing so it's closer to the tanks.
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Old 04-16-18, 06:39 AM
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My flat surface is a 1-1/4" thick piece of granite counter top on saw horses (steel), supported by 1-1/2" oak ply planks. Originally I had a composite slate section from a billiard table.

While a jig is nice, getting some experience building will help to determine WHICH jig is most useful to you. I went the other way around, getting a jig first -- a NorTac model that is quite flexible in set-up. But that flexibility is part of its detriment. It takes quite a bit of fiddling to get it set up. Also, being a plate type, there is very limited access to certain areas.
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Old 04-16-18, 10:02 AM
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Thanks again for the advice. I really do like the idea of a nice surface plate and the Alex Meade surface plate jig set up or something that Doug offers. I guess it's my inexperience that comes to play with this though that I can't help thinking about how you braze up the frame on the surface plate with plans sitting underneath them. Of course you wouldn't actually do that, so for those of you that have your plans on your surface plate, what do you do? Couldn't you set everything up in a frame jig, replicate from the plans, pin it, and then braze it while in the jig? Again, I'm sure it's my lack of knowledge on the subject, so I'm thinking of the efficiency side of things.

Thanks all!

Brandon
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Old 04-16-18, 12:44 PM
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Brandon you are discovering that different builders make frames in different ways and their equipment reflects their philosophies of how the tubes should go together. Sometimes whatever kind of fixturing they bought determines their procedures Ė that may or may not be a really good way to do things. This is why it is wise to learn from a master and then modify that training to meet your personality or monetary restrictions. Without some kind of solid background a person can waste a ton of time and money sorting things out. It is also not helpful to have multiple teachers at 1st because their advice can be contradictory. Just like if you are new to cycling and ask if you should buy Shimano or Campagnolo? Opinions will vary and arguments will result and you can end up confused because you donít have a background to understand the differences.

I like many builders donít braze a whole joint in a fixture. Rather I spot braze the tubes or frame or whatever to hold them together in the fixture and then braze it free standing after making sure it is in alignment. Sometimes builders will also pin (as in drive a nail) parts together. There are several reasons for this. When something is in a fixture the whole heavy mess canít be placed in the most effective position and/or moved easily while brazing, the jig can rob some of the heat and prevent some torch/flame movement. And besides brazing in the fixture doesnít assure alignment anyway and you caní t see inside a bb shell to tell of the silver/brass has come down all the way around.

One of the ironies of tooling is that the more experienced a builder, the less he/she requires expensive fixtures. Beginners can benefit from the accuracy that can be bought. Another factor in the tooling equation is how much time someone wants to spend on set up. The simpler the tooling the more time it takes and vice versa. This is a personal thing and can depend on how much discretionary money is available.
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Old 04-16-18, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BigPoser View Post
Thanks again for the advice. I really do like the idea of a nice surface plate and the Alex Meade surface plate jig set up or something that Doug offers. I guess it's my inexperience that comes to play with this though that I can't help thinking about how you braze up the frame on the surface plate with plans sitting underneath them. Of course you wouldn't actually do that, so for those of you that have your plans on your surface plate, what do you do? Couldn't you set everything up in a frame jig, replicate from the plans, pin it, and then braze it while in the jig? Again, I'm sure it's my lack of knowledge on the subject, so I'm thinking of the efficiency side of things.
Thanks all!
Brandon
I don't use that method but when I tack on my surface plate I slide an aluminum cookie sheet under the area where flux is going to drip.

This is what I ended up building: https://www.flickr.com/photos/216244...7674615273680/

This is where I started, with slight differences due to what I had on hand. Frankly, it was quicker to use for head and top tube fit-up because removal of those tubes for coping adjustment/checking/adjustment was quicker than with my fancy fixture. Mine had a BB cup attached to the back-board and the tubes rested on stand-offs of correspondingly adjusted thickness. That got everything related to the main triangle plenty close for pinning and/or tacking, and subsequent alignment finishing on the table. Later I added a left side rear DO fixture to the main triangle fixture so that CS and SS could be built and fitted there. The right side was fitted, pinned and tacked on the surface plate after the main frame was brazed and the left CS+SS was seriously pinned: https://www.flickr.com/photos/216244...posted-public/

And here is a guy that's using his head: http://forums.mtbr.com/attachments/f...s-img_7838.jpg

You can also clamp the BB shell to the table, to tweak it into plane as part of the tacking exercise; you'll want to stand it off with a 2" thick piece of flat cold-rolled or wrought aluminum plate (parallel surfaces) so you can move the tubes adequately. That was one technique I used until I got a whipping post. Add a set of HT cones on a rod, an adjustible vee-block equivalent, clamps to secure the HT rod so you can lean on the tacked frame and you've got most of the essential capabilities covered pretty well.

If you're going to build frames you're going to constantly be solving fixturing puzzles....or spending a serious amount of money for store bought fixtures for every little thing...and there are LOTS of little things. You might as well get started thinking that way now. I suggest a lot of Interweb cruising for photo sites that show how others do their work, especially on things other than the main frame.

Good luck.

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Old 04-16-18, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
Brandon you are discovering that different builders make frames in different ways and their equipment reflects their philosophies of how the tubes should go together. Sometimes whatever kind of fixturing they bought determines their procedures Ė that may or may not be a really good way to do things. This is why it is wise to learn from a master and then modify that training to meet your personality or monetary restrictions. Without some kind of solid background a person can waste a ton of time and money sorting things out. It is also not helpful to have multiple teachers at 1st because their advice can be contradictory. Just like if you are new to cycling and ask if you should buy Shimano or Campagnolo? Opinions will vary and arguments will result and you can end up confused because you donít have a background to understand the differences.

I like many builders donít braze a whole joint in a fixture. Rather I spot braze the tubes or frame or whatever to hold them together in the fixture and then braze it free standing after making sure it is in alignment. Sometimes builders will also pin (as in drive a nail) parts together. There are several reasons for this. When something is in a fixture the whole heavy mess canít be placed in the most effective position and/or moved easily while brazing, the jig can rob some of the heat and prevent some torch/flame movement. And besides brazing in the fixture doesnít assure alignment anyway and you caní t see inside a bb shell to tell of the silver/brass has come down all the way around.

One of the ironies of tooling is that the more experienced a builder, the less he/she requires expensive fixtures. Beginners can benefit from the accuracy that can be bought. Another factor in the tooling equation is how much time someone wants to spend on set up. The simpler the tooling the more time it takes and vice versa. This is a personal thing and can depend on how much discretionary money is available.
Hi Doug,

Yes I absolutely am. That is one reason that I love this. An amazing frame can be built in many different ways using many techniques. I also understand that some may think I'm doing this slightly backwards since I haven't gone to a school just yet. Truth is, I need to build up some vacation days in order to go. That, and I'm not patient enough to wait to go to school first before I jump into my frame building.
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