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Author Topic: Building your own equipment.  (Read 824 times)

Offline Javin

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Building your own equipment.
« on: July 16, 2012, 12:17:19 am »
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?

Offline bee-nuts

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #1 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.
The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory

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Offline Jim 134

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 07:21:01 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.

 X:X X:X X:X X:X


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
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Offline asprince

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 08:08:50 am »
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.


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Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resembalance to the first. - Ronald Reagan

Offline Javin

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 03:20:16 pm »
"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.

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 06:00:41 pm »
Go to Mann Lake bees 6 5/8'' $8.50 @ 250 boxes Unassembled Commercial Grade

Free shipping applies to most orders over $100 sent standard ground service within the lower 48 states.




     BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline AllenF

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 08:50:38 pm »
Brushy will have free shipping in December.     :-D

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2012, 09:46:47 pm »
Brushy will have free shipping in December.     :-D


   But only in the east


    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2012, 09:51:13 pm »
And all so some times Walter T. Kelley About the last week in Nov.will have free shipping




      BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 10:02:15 pm by Jim 134 »
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline wayne

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 09:17:45 pm »
  The problem for me was always time. In the winter my shop converts for another activity so I build as needed in the summer and spring.
  I can cut joint and build boxes quick with the tools I have but my time per frame is slow. So I buy them in bulk.
  That may have to change back though as I'm thinking of shaving my frames to put 11 per box. I hope this will be better for my smaller regressed bees.
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Offline Javin

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 10:16:37 pm »
  The problem for me was always time. In the winter my shop converts for another activity so I build as needed in the summer and spring.
  I can cut joint and build boxes quick with the tools I have but my time per frame is slow. So I buy them in bulk.
  That may have to change back though as I'm thinking of shaving my frames to put 11 per box. I hope this will be better for my smaller regressed bees.

Yup!  Definitely think you hit the nail on the head here.  Sure, I COULD crank out 200 frames in 6 hours.  But I've found I don't HAVE six hours to crank out 200 frames.  Worse still, I need the frames YESTERDAY.  So I finally broke down and ordered a bunch of equipment from Brushy Mountain (and they gave me free shipping!).  Something went wonky in the order though, and they sent me a ton of medium equipment (which I ordered) but 100 DEEP frames.  Still, pulling out the old chop saw and router, I had those whittled down to mediums in no time. 

I gotta say, if Brushy continues to give free shipping, they really seem to be the best game in town.  They're also one of the few that carries the English Copper Top that I love.  Anyone else found some suppliers that are as good?

Offline ScooterTrash

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2012, 01:12:27 pm »
Transferred to the ranks of the unemployed recently so to much time on my hands until I find another gig. To maintain my sanity I continue to build my own equipment, all of it. Sawmill charges me $1.25 for 1" x 8" x 8' (for my top bar on frames I have them cut to 1-1/4" thick so they may be dressed out to 7/8" width). Just finished cutting 2734 bottom bars (the easiest cut) took 8hrs. Next up 5468 side pieces 1/2 will be 1-1/4 width and the other half 1-1/2"; utilizing 2" x 4" scraps from construction site, cut to length with radial (I use all Mediums) run thru table twice to get desired width(s), run block on sliding table thru dado on both ends then rip to 3/8" (get 7pcs/section) run each piece thru router to get spacer cut. Top bar 4 dado each and 2 runs thru 45degree chamfer bit. Put em together; like I said to much time on my hands but also the suppliers don't carry what I want. I am going to give biscuit joinery a go for the boxes unless somone has tried and has negative results with that type joint? Thanks
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Offline AllenF

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2012, 03:51:16 pm »
Unemployed?  Sounds like you are fixing to make a living making bee equipment.   You can run a search for box corners here to find scores of likes and dislikes.   

Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2012, 04:49:02 pm »
Maybe I was doing a little over kill. I built eveything bee keeping myself. smoker, hive tools,cutout tools, frame gripper, vale, all woodenware. extractor (out of wood) barrel for extractor. Sawed the trees milled the logs. dryed the lumber. plained to thicknest. ( Man the things you can do when you don't have the money to buy what you need. plus I learned from a master way back when if you don't have it and need it , build it your self and be proud that you did it your self.

john

Offline JPBEEGETTER

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2012, 07:00:27 pm »
Me too i build most of my stuff, buy frame ends cause they are cheaper than i can make. Need some cypress cheap tho near here NC.

Offline JPBEEGETTER

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2012, 07:04:48 pm »
Also john, was P.A.D.I. open water inst. thru '80's  #7522 OWSI. Too old now so baby sit bees.

Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2012, 12:55:23 am »
Also john, was P.A.D.I. open water inst. thru '80's  #7522 OWSI. Too old now so baby sit bees.

I.D.E.A. but how did you know that?

john

Offline ScooterTrash

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2012, 02:48:41 pm »
AllenF, expanding elsewhere as the area here may not adequate forage; the sawmill fellow will host the hives. Now to get the bees for the hives, LOL
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Offline Javin

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2012, 12:14:58 am »
Maybe I was doing a little over kill. I built eveything bee keeping myself. smoker, hive tools,cutout tools, frame gripper, vale, all woodenware. extractor (out of wood) barrel for extractor. Sawed the trees milled the logs. dryed the lumber. plained to thicknest. ( Man the things you can do when you don't have the money to buy what you need. plus I learned from a master way back when if you don't have it and need it , build it your self and be proud that you did it your self.

john

You're my hero.  I love building stuff myself.  Even if I CAN find it cheaper to buy, there's a lot to be said for being able to build ANYTHING for yourself.  Been trying to talk the smarter half into letting me buy a planer so I could make stuff out of the trees we keep cutting down, but no go so far.  I rigged my router into a jointer table, but that's the best I've got.  Would love to have a planer and a lathe.  (sigh)

Offline minz

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2012, 05:05:54 pm »
I was just out in the garage trying to measure the moisture content of my CVG Hemlock.  I got 1400 BF @ $400/ 1000.  I am also thinking of going into the saw dust business.  I found paint was the most expensive part of the game when I was building my own gear and now found that I can get recycled paint by Metro for $9 / gallon for white. same for primer.  I am thinking of building, priming and painting. And seeing if I can sell them for the same price as the bee store here in town.  What do you guys think? 
I built frames last year.  I used 2x8 (as wide as would fit on my jointer) and CVG hemlock for tops and bottoms.  Man you have to watch your fingers when you are into that production work.  Anytime I set up an operation and do a couple of hundred of something I always have a ‘close call’. I got some boxes of shallows that I did not have frames for and had to go buy some anyway. I am really thinking about MB’s ‘one size fits all’.  Seems I always have the wrong size of something.
Javin, why a lathe?
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