BEEKEEPING LEARNING CENTER > CRAFTING CORNER

Building your own equipment.

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Javin:
So I've been purchasing my equipment (langstroth/dadant) from a local guy, and after today's "incident" (mainly, he no-called no-showed after I drove 2 hours to make a $400 purchase) I got frustrated enough to look into how difficult it'd be to just build my own equipment.

The results surprised me.  If you have a router, skill saw, and table saw, it's remarkably easy to just build your own equipment.  I'd rigged up a jig for creating frames within an hour and was cranking out frames and hive bodies in no time with the excess wood I'd purchased for another home project.  (Note: Simple 2"x4"x8's can make a LOT of frames)

Has anyone else gotten into making their own equipment?  Are their some pitfalls to making your own that I don't know about that are going to come back to bite me later? 

I'm seriously considering going into the business of building equipment for sale.  Seems buying it in bulk from suppliers is still around three times as expensive as making it yourself, and this is before shipping.

Seems the commercial guys could save a LOT of money by just building their own stuff during the down season, but from what I've seen, they don't do that.  Is there a reason?

bee-nuts:
Commercial guys get boxes for about 8 dollars when bought in bulk, cheaper than you can buy the wood, and their time is better paid working bees than wood.  Fames are cheap and take more time to build then are savings are worth.  I have a cheap hook for lumber so I can build boxes for $3 and I have been building all my boxes, bottoms, and covers. Frames at 75 dollars a hundred I buy em for the rest of my life, I would have to be able to make 200 a day to break even, not worth the head ache.

I recommend going into business if you can buy enough quality dry lumber or can cut enough each year to let dry to use next year.  Do the math and you might find there is not a pot of gold at the end of wooden ware rainbow.

Jim 134:

--- Quote from: bee-nuts on July 16, 2012, 02:18:59 am ---Commercial guys get boxes for about 8 dollars when bought in bulk, cheaper than you can buy the wood, and their time is better paid working bees than wood.  Fames are cheap and take more time to build then are savings are worth.  I have a cheap hook for lumber so I can build boxes for $3 and I have been building all my boxes, bottoms, and covers. Frames at 75 dollars a hundred I buy em for the rest of my life, I would have to be able to make 200 a day to break even, not worth the head ache.

I recommend going into business if you can buy enough quality dry lumber or can cut enough each year to let dry to use next year.  Do the math and you might find there is not a pot of gold at the end of wooden ware rainbow.

--- End quote ---

 X:X X:X X:X X:X


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)

asprince:
Go for it, my friend/mentor makes all of our equipment and a lot more for others in our club. He has jigs and a system the works and he cranks out a lot of equipment non purchased wood sources. He has very little overhead and is retired. He just looks at how much money he does not have to spend  on equipment and not what it cost him as for his time.

Remember, it does not matter how good a deal is if you cant get the product when you need it. Offer good service and product and you may pick up your neighbors customers.


Steve

Javin:
"I have a cheap hook for lumber so I can build boxes for $3 and I have been building all my boxes, bottoms, and covers. Frames at 75 dollars a hundred I buy em for the rest of my life, I would have to be able to make 200 a day to break even, not worth the head ache."

I'm confused...

With the jig and table saw set up, it takes me about 1 minute per to make the frames (not assembled).  That's 360 in a 6 hour day.  For the lumber, I can make very roughly 22 frames out of a $3 piece of 2x4.  Also, any scrap that comes from building bodes also gets recycled back into frames. 

The cheapest I've found them is $80 per hundred, and that's if I drive the 2 hours to pick them up (and if the guy actually shows  :whip:)  Taking the cost of gas or shipping into account, that increases the price a bit, too.  When I can make the same 100 frames for less than $14 of lumber, and 3 hours of work.  Now, if you loathe woodworking, then certainly one could argue that your 3 hours is worth more than that, but I rather enjoy the woodworking aspect.

Last night I built two medium Nucs (four 5 frame medium hive bodies, two telescoping lids, two bases) in just about an hour (assembled) with $28 worth of wood, and still have plenty left over for making more frames - possibly enough for another nuc.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do use rabbet joints on the boxes instead of finger joints, but for a nuc I believe finger joints are serious overkill.  I may soon get to eat those words.  But either way, switching to a finger joint would only be a minor inconvenience.

This exact design for a nuc would run me $28 EACH. 

I'm just not following how you would "have to be able to make 200 a day to break even".  If you made 4 frames from a 2x4, the remaining 18 would be solid profit. This means after the first 4 you make from each 2x4, your earnings per hour would be limited only by how many frames you can make in that time frame. 

Now, if commercial bee keepers are TRULY getting their boxes for $8 per, my 1 x 8 x 8 boards run me $9.12, and from one of these you can make a single medium hive body (with a little left over).  At $8 per, it really would be cheaper than to get the lumber alone.  That said, I don't get them for $8 per.  I get them for $9.50 per, so the cost tradeoff isn't in my favor there.  But again, the difference is, when I need 'em, I can make them.  Instead of driving for 2 hours to have the guy no-call, no-show.

I also prefer the English Copper Top design.  While these are $49.95 each, I can build one (with aluminum flashing) for roughly $22.

So sure, if you're talking about hive bodies, I could see the argument that they're just not worth the trouble when their near the cost of the lumber.  But for just about everything else, it's way worth it IMO to make them yourself.

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