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Thread: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

  1. #1
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    Default Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Hi All,

    I've been reading through many of the posts within this site and I'm learning quite a bit. I'm just getting started in the frame building game and am looking for tips on the best way to set up the building process. I believe that the best/least expensive way for me to do this would be to use a welding table or something similar in which I can mount the frame tubes together. I've seen a few tables online for around $450 or so minus any table accessories.

    I'd love to hear from you all about pros and cons are to doing this, and if you have any tips on small jigs or pieces that will aid in the process.

    Thanks in advance!

    Brandon Poser
     

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    You can pick up a granite surface plate at auction for next to nothing, or a new import for pretty cheap. You can use v-blocks and shims. Tube blocks from paragon. Or get surface plate fixtures from Alex Meade. Hope this helps a little.

    Sam Markovich
     

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    I'm assuming you're using TIG?

    My "welding table" is just steel bench legs with a sheet of 1/8" thick steel on top. It is not flat (probably out 1/4-1/2" over 30" depending on the day) but I built a relatively straight frame on it w/out the use of more than welding magnets.

    Each tube was coped and checked a few times to make sure I wasn't effing stuff up.
    Then I tacked it in place + took it over to the alignment table. Persuaded it into place.
    The onto the next tube. Repeat.
    Then I finished 1 weld completely. Back to the alignment table.
    Finish 2nd weld completely. Back to the alignment table.
    etc.
    This was a ridiculously slow process but I ended up with a bike that's straight enough (for a kid).
    elysian
    Tom Tolhurst

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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    BigPoser and sam -

    A reminder that all posts here in the Frame Forum should have your first and last name in clear view.

    Thank you.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    There are many ways to build a bicycle frame. Some of them are good ways and many of them not so good. How you build a frame has a lot to do with what equipment one has. And what equipment is best depends a lot on future goals. If it is just a hobby than it is possible to exchange taking more time with simpler tools. If the goal is to eventually sell frames for money than it is smart to start with more expensive equipment. Your choices can also depend on your financial philosophies and how good you want to be.

    The welding table you indicated will work but it isn’t something I would want. Not that I couldn’t make it work but I am a professional that wants 1st rate equipment for my primary tools. That is something with a solid surface and good accuracy. For alignment purposes I could just use a straight edge with an adjustable screw. But I wouldn’t want to. Making a profit means reducing build time with good equipment.

    What I would recommend is 1st developing the method you want to build frames. Typically that involves taking a frame building class. That is the fastest and safest way to learn. From that experience it will be much easier to choose what equipment will work best for you. Otherwise you will be putting your fairly recent purchases in the classifieds for less than what you paid for them once you know more. Or even worse you start making poor frames on cheap equipment.

    I have have a stainless steel laser cut and etched stainless steel design and spotting fixture made in Ukraine. It matches my philosophy of building. It costs $1000. I vastly prefer it to laying blocks on lines on a surface plate. Vastly. But that doesn’t mean mine works for everyone that does things differently. This is why I recommend starting with instruction before purchasing.
     

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Not sure why my signature was not showing, it always has in the past. In my profile it shows it on, I redid it lets see if it shows up now, if not any idea why is does not. Well it worked now, not sure why it stopped. thanks
    Last edited by sam; 11-05-2017 at 10:59 AM. Reason: changed info
    Sam Markovich

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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    I have no where near as much experience as Doug but I agree with him fully. The reason I built this bike (see last week's FNL) on a table is b/c my fixture wouldn't go small enough. The amount of time spent on this would be a money suck if I was building for a client.
    elysian
    Tom Tolhurst

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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I wanted to build my first frame, but had little in the way of tools other than a tig machine. After seeing the video on welding tips and tricks of Jody using a stronghand buildpro table to build a frame, I decided to build a modular fabrication table to build a frame as well as other stuff. I built my first frame about a year and a half ago, and have since started a second. If you have the funds, a dedicated frame jig would be your best bet, but if your budget is limited like me, a home built table is relatively inexpensive to build and a great way to learn the frame building process. I made a video of my first frame on youtube if you're interested.
    Bicycle frame build overview and 5 mile review - YouTube
    Joey Mesa

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigPoser View Post
    Hi All,

    I've been reading through many of the posts within this site and I'm learning quite a bit. I'm just getting started in the frame building game and am looking for tips on the best way to set up the building process. I believe that the best/least expensive way for me to do this would be to use a welding table or something similar in which I can mount the frame tubes together. I've seen a few tables online for around $450 or so minus any table accessories.

    I'd love to hear from you all about pros and cons are to doing this, and if you have any tips on small jigs or pieces that will aid in the process.

    Thanks in advance!

    Brandon
    If this is to be a hobby I suggest something like this: Talbot inspired homemade plywood bicycle frame jig. ---- http://www.safety-silv.com | Framebuilding | Pinterest | Bicycling, Bike frame and Cycling

    I built something similar, though with simpler frame tube devices. for my first couple of frames. If it's lugs, then pin in the fixture, tack elsewhere, align with string, straight edge or flat table (whatever you have) and then finish braze. If TIG, tack in the fixture and same drill afterwards.

    The Talbot framebuilding book had the simpler version of plywood jig that I used, main triangle only. I then added a chainstay fixture for one side only, the other being keyed off of that.

    If you plan on making this a commercial venture I still suggest the plywood version until you gain enough experience to know what expensive stuff would work best for you.

    As to surface plates, I found that a 3'x4'x4" Grade B Granite surface plate was the most economical way to get a truly flat surface. Mine was around $300 if I remember correctly. Having said that one can get some awfully flat wooden workbenches. I used a cast iron tablesaw wing and straight edges + string for my first few though my surface plate is astronomically easier, quicker and rewarding to use. It was some years before I installed a whipping post, which was a real bonus but not necessary for low/hobby production.

    Later I built this, with some machining work from Joe Bringheli: Flickr (big frame in this shot)

    Good luck.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Hi all,

    Thank you for all the replies! I've been a bit busy and haven't had the chance to get online much lately. I really agree with you all, particularly Doug. I've been doing a lot of thinking, researching, and more thinking. My current plan is to practice a ton, build some frames, practice some more, and get a really good base before I venture off to a school. Not to mention, I need to have the vacation time at work before I can jet off for a couple of weeks. I'm shooting for a school next year sometime (Doug, yours is at the top of my list). I am really liking this jig: The Benchmark - Home and think it will do a fine job.

    This won't be a hobby for me. It is something that will be much more than that, and I also like having the proper tools to do the job the first time. Time is money. Having said that, some of these tools are very expensive and they can take time to acquire. In the coming months I'll continue to get my shop put together and develop ways that will work best for me.

    Brandon Poser
     

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Brandon- Welcome to our mad world where we strive to attain skills and taste that not many understand or wish to pay for:) I knew part way through my first frame that I was going to have a life long relationship with making bikes. That was 45 years ago and I'm still using tools I got back then. I'm also still learning. Have a lot of fun cause you're going to be spending a lot of alone time. Andy
    Andy Stewart
    10%

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Best way to build a welding/assembly table, or best valued table to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    Brandon- Welcome to our mad world where we strive to attain skills and taste that not many understand or wish to pay for:) I knew part way through my first frame that I was going to have a life long relationship with making bikes. That was 45 years ago and I'm still using tools I got back then. I'm also still learning. Have a lot of fun cause you're going to be spending a lot of alone time. Andy
    Ha, thanks Andrew. One of my next purchases will be a new tool chest as mine is currently overflowing and I need more room. I believe I have found my calling. I just wish I had found it 20 years ago. Oh well, that's life I suppose. I still have a real job as well, so with a lot of hard work, and a little luck, in time I'll be able to move away from my primary job and make the transition.
    Brandon Poser
    BAHL Cycle Works

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