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Author Topic: Building your own equipment.  (Read 797 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.
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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


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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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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.




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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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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2012, 10:46:14 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

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)

Pawn shops are your best friend. I picked up my 12 inch by 12 inch planer for 75.00 I have a metal lathe that I use for turning my wood. Minz  you need a lathe to turn dippers for honey. makes for a great add on sale. . I make them from scrap hard wood and sell them for 5.95 . can't make them quick enought.

John

Offline minz

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2012, 10:49:10 pm »
Divemaster, very cool! I had a guy here give me some PNW Yew.  Supposed to be great for turning.  As embarrassing as it seems I cannot figure out how to use the parting tool.  I can turn a segmented bracelet but I am doing something wrong with the parting tool? Any advice, sharpening hints rest adjustment?
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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2012, 10:37:46 pm »
Divemaster, very cool! I had a guy here give me some PNW Yew.  Supposed to be great for turning.  As embarrassing as it seems I cannot figure out how to use the parting tool.  I can turn a segmented bracelet but I am doing something wrong with the parting tool? Any advice, sharpening hints rest adjustment?

I can tell you but it may sound like greek. The best thing to do is go to youtube and look up turning tools.

ps. get a professional sharpener to sharpen the tools for you.

John

Offline Lone

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2012, 10:08:27 am »
Quote
I have a metal lathe that I use for turning my wood. Minz  you need a lathe to turn dippers for honey. makes for a great add on sale. . I make them from scrap hard wood and sell them for 5.95 . can't make them quick enought.

John,  my wood lathe was set up a couple of weeks ago so I am new to it - so new I don't know how to make honey dippers. I haven't actually made anything yet, just had a couple of practice pieces. Would you be able to give me easy Dippers for Dummies instructions, please?  A video would be great if it's not too much trouble.  Thanks mate.

Lone

Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2012, 08:17:51 pm »
Sorry I don't have a video camera. But the easiest way is to use wood with a med moisture content. that way it is easier to turn. start with a piece of wood that will give you a two inch cylinder. then turn the head round with the end a 1/2 inch thick. ( this will keep it from breaking off) then the thick part of the round being about 1 inch thick. then taper the shaft down to about 1/2 thick. then with a parting tool cut grooves in the round about 1/8 inch deep. about 2- 4 will be good. then sand the head with fine sandpaper till smooth. then start turning the handle down to about 1/4 thick. be careful. I turn mine into a wave handle to prevent breaking. then sand till smooth.then with a hacksaw blade you can cut the ends and sand smooth over.  then I boil mine in some beeswax and veg oil to protect it and shine it or leave it plain.  hope this helps.

john.

p.s. I prefer hardwoods over soft woods. it doesn't tear out as easy.

Offline bluegrass

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2012, 10:00:53 pm »
Only downfall I would warn of with building frames out of 2x framing lumber is to watch the stamps... If it is stamped GN rather than KD, don't use it... You will run into this mostly with box store lumber.

I currently buy all my Woodenware.. This year deep boxes cost me 7.00 each and frames .60 each... I cannot build them for that. 
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Offline Lone

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2012, 05:35:24 am »
Thanks a lot, John!  I made some clap sticks today from old river redgum fence posts my father had. It was a good way to get familiar with the lathe. The posts obviously don't have much moisture, but they are hard wood. So I think I will try the honey dipper next with the red gum.  What is a parting tool?  Maybe it is one I don't have.  I tried practising those grooves with the tools I have but they were too rough.  Also, what is a wave handle please?  And what quantity of vegetable oil do you mix in with the wax?

I am looking forward to this  :)

Lone

Offline divemaster1963

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2012, 10:45:37 pm »
Thanks a lot, John!  I made some clap sticks today from old river redgum fence posts my father had. It was a good way to get familiar with the lathe. The posts obviously don't have much moisture, but they are hard wood. So I think I will try the honey dipper next with the red gum.  What is a parting tool?  Maybe it is one I don't have.  I tried practising those grooves with the tools I have but they were too rough.  Also, what is a wave handle please?  And what quantity of vegetable oil do you mix in with the wax?

I am looking forward to this  :)

Lone
The Parting tool is the tool that is flat with a angle cut end and sharp on all sides.It's about 1/8 inch thick by about 1 inch wide and tapers to a point. use the end edge to cut thru the wood  just keep going slowly till it cuts thru.  pratice the angle your cutting at. you should get smmoth shavings with the right angle. check out wood turning on youtube. there are some good vids about how to use the tools properly. the wave handle is just that. the handle has waves in it to fit the hand. try different styles of handles and find one you like.

john




Offline little john

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2012, 02:33:31 pm »
Assuming that there's as big a resurgence in beekeeping in the States as in Britain - if I had a workshop full of woodworking equipment and some spare time ... I'd make hives for the suburban housewife market: in particular the English WBC hive, which must rate quite high up on the 'pretty' stakes. Much nicer to look at than a boring square box - even if it ain't very practical to use.

Can't include a pic of what I'm talking about - not enough posts yet ...  :roll:

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Offline Maryland Beekeeper

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2013, 11:15:39 am »
Anyone making their own foundation ? how ?
Cheers,
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Offline edward

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2013, 11:25:57 am »
how to make foundation

Using a foundation mold

how to make a mould

Making a beeswax foundation mold

mvh edward  :-P

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2013, 10:48:20 am »
IMO the only way to come out ahead building your own equipment is if you have a source of free scrap lumber or at a minimum, a source of cheap LOCAL lumber from a local sawmill.
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Offline minz

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2013, 05:24:09 pm »
I love to cut wood and the final product gives me pride.  Every winter I buy a few hundred dollar’s worth of hardwood and build a project: kids bunk beds with built in desk, Bedroom set (king sized bed, double dresser, mirror, 5 drawer, nightstands) kitchen table and ladder back chairs, fish tank stands….it goes on and on. Probably not dollar wise on any of it if you add in even the time to finish. 
Fir is almost free compared to what I normally use. If I figured ‘deferred costs’ I am way ahead of the game!
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Offline BingalingBees

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2014, 02:05:04 pm »
I'm more of a fence & deck builder... not what I call a "fine carpenter". :^) I buy my wood components from Western Bee Supplies in Montana; then assemble and paint here in Mount Vernon, WA. Freight costs are expensive but a few beekeepers can go together and order to share the costs? It works for me, I've got 52 deeps & 71 honey supers I built that way...
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2014, 08:36:32 pm »
IMO the only way to come out ahead building your own equipment is if you have a source of free scrap lumber or at a minimum, a source of cheap LOCAL lumber from a local sawmill.
I used to get large oaks, gums, magnolia's and cedar logs cut into boards. Cost $15 per setup/move and $0.15 per board foot to cut. I still have some left in my workshop. That was back in the late 90's. My neighbor just had some cut and it was .50 per board foot and he had to take the logs to the mill. He cut some really nice wide cedar. He said another mill wanted $1.00 per board foot.
Jim

Offline Football928

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2015, 10:09:13 am »
Its worth making boxes but not completely sure about frames its about 20$ for a 10 frame box

Offline gww

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #36 on: July 06, 2015, 10:49:52 am »
I built a band saw sawmill.  I had built my small amounts of hives and frames out of reclaimed barn wood, leftover stuf from other projects.  I found out it takes quite a bit of wood to do this stuff.  I have plenty drying now.  I don't believe at my skill level that I come out building my own even when I was using free wood.  I did have two commodities that made it a bit better.  I had lots of time that I did not count and I was bored enough that the building was interesting.  Not much money but lots of time.  I found it fun but would not want to do 300 hives the way that I did it cause I would maby never get done. 

The above is the differrance between a hoby and a buisness.

gww

Offline Dave86

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #37 on: August 11, 2015, 05:04:25 am »


In Australia the cheapest box is about $21 aud, frames $110 per 100. made from hoop pine mainly or imported radiata from NZ.

Im currently looking at cypress, the main issue is getting the 10x1 boards. Meeting with the miller on Saturday to discuss the possibility of using 6 and 4 in boards tongue and groove joined to make a 10in full depth box. Miller is 150kms away(about 90miles)

Should be able to make full depth boxes for about $16aud, far cheaper then a commercial hoop box and cypress will last at least 2 times longer then hoop.

Some suppliers here are selling commercial grade boxes for up to $30 each, beekeeping in Australia is becoming an expensive start up hobby let alone going commercial

Offline OldMech

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Re: Building your own equipment.
« Reply #38 on: August 11, 2015, 03:59:42 pm »
IMO the only way to come out ahead building your own equipment is if you have a source of free scrap lumber or at a minimum, a source of cheap LOCAL lumber from a local sawmill.


   50 hives at $47.00 each. 40 frames for those hives at  $10.80   That is with reversible inner covers and metal for the tele covers. = $57.80 each x 50 = $2890.00

   PLUS, electricity, saw blades, glue, staples etc....

   VS;

     Mann Lake HK-340 ten frame 6 5/8 hive with wooden frames = 269.95 each x 50 = 13497.50
  ThirTEEN THOUSAND...  cough...
     thirteen..   thousand... five hundred.....    dollars..............

         13497.50 - $2890.00  =  a savings of  $10,607.50...

 
   I am quite content that I came out ahead on the 50+ hives I built, and am currently pretending to control....
   Wood from Menards, there is no such thing as a local lumber yard within 30 miles of my home.  The last one closed three years ago.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.