Those are beautiful. I'm going to share this with my daughter, who's working on ideas for her own senior project.
That's good to hear David. The best advise I can give is to tell her to take away as many of the variables as possible. What was the old quote that we used to hear? Went something like, "If you go out with a 50mm, you'll get great 50mm photos. If you go with a 28mm, you'll get great 28mm photos. If you go out with every lens you own, you'll come back with nothing." A little off track from it all, but applicable with any endeavor or project.
Eric, thanks! The panel I include on my frames is a small part, but I think it's important for me and what I want to achieve. I've been working on execution of it and am looking forward to seeing how it develops as I continue.
Tony, the website, like everything I do is homegrown. Susan is in charge of it for me and we're moving ahead in lurches. My plan was to have it rolled out by the time NAHBS '11 came around. We hope to keep improving it, simple as it is.
I had a request, actually a couple recently, to show photos of my fork bender. My history with benders is like most builders; I built one, destroyed it, built another, wore it out, tweaked it, broke it again... So a good design for a sturdy bender has been on my radar for a long time. A lot of builders have some really nice ones out there, and they get the job done very well. Witness Richard's or Dave's: simple and effective. I built this one mainly because I thought this style bender looked really cool. It's probably overkill, but it's sure fun! I give all the credit for the inspiration of this one to Tom & Jeff at Spectrum. When I designed this one I was only going on photos Tom posted in FNL about a year ago. I bought all the parts at my local box hardware store except the V roller wheel which I got from McMaster-Carr. It's their 2"x4" V groove wheel that's green. You'll find it if you go looking. The wood part I made from two oak stair treads glued together. No fancy tools needed, I used my table saw to cut them, curve and all. I did the V groove on my table saw also, then refined it with my dynafile and hand files. I made adjustable stops by drilling holes a rod will fit through. The clamp is just a piece of steel I bent and brazed a nut onto. Note the little reference square and piece of curved steel I use with my clampdown. I've been bending my blades after brazing in the drop-out and use the square to make sure everything's straight. I like having my bender mounted on the wall and out of the way. It's always there and ready to go. After using it for a while, a change I would consider is moving the wheel closer to the mandrel. If I'm going for a good bend I find I'm all the way at the end of the blade. I won't change this one now since it's dialed in, but if I were to make another.
The last photo is of a couple of things I made cheaply which everyone should have. Everyone should recognize the chopped fork crown and steerer. I use the same crowns a lot and decided it was best to follow Richard's lead and sacrifice one for the good of all future forks. When you see an example such as this, it's foolish not to follow. The blade measuring table is built out of PVC, which I have a lot of. Great stuff since you can just glue it together. it lets me make sure my blades are consistent. I recently made a butt measuring tool, but I'm not showing that one... it's butt ugly!
I called one back. Actually, I wanted to have a good look at one and since Susan's son David was riding it, I could get it. I made this frame for David when I was just getting started, I think it was my 5th. Getting started... when does that end? Anyway, David has been riding this bike to work from the Wrigley Field area to downtown Chicago a bunch. He grocery ran with it, hopped bars, and who knows what guys in their 20's us a bike for in the city. Last summer he reported he'd run into a car with it, which bothered me. So I called it back in and told him I'd fix it up and paint it. Of course he's not getting it back, I'll just make him a new one. But here it is, and it represents where my head was on my 5th frame. Coming back from NAHBS with my 29th, it makes me realize how long a journey building bikes can be.
I put this on the table, and after checking it over completely, I can't see anything wrong with it. I was going to take the hack saw to it, but something made me set it aside. I've only kept a couple of my first ones, the first and the 22nd (which I ride). I'd hate to let this one out again as it doesn't represent the direction I'm going stylistically. Maybe I'll just hang it on a hook and put a tag on it.
How was your first 'other side of the table' experience in Texas?
Kirk Frameworks Co.
Sorry about the sideways photo. It's off my sister's phone and getting it befuddled me.
I was just looking at your website and the bucket O bikes caught my eye got me thinking.... Are you painting your own frames? And if so, I imagine that your earlier art adventures are reflected in the details? Very clean work and again, I LOVE THE JAKE BREAK NAME. Too many moles behind the wheel maybe but I personally love the reference especially for that model bike.
Yes Chris, I do all my own painting. It's hard, and I've enjoyed the challenge.
Having a history in art, and my take on it as it applies to bicycle design:
I believe function places constraints on bicycle design. Art can only come into play in treatment of intersections, and bits and pieces that make the whole. Good art defines itself in the "whole." A bicycle comprised of spectacular bits and pieces doesn't necessarily have unity. Doing any "art" on a bicycle, be it carving lugs, bending tubes, fancy metals, stuck on pieces, must be subordinate to the whole. No one part of the bicycle should dominate others. A bicycle should invite you to stand back and look at it, taking in it's sense of unity. Then, ask you to move in and examine parts closely, no one part more so than any other. I feel the same for lugs, tig, fillet, or carbon. Fancy lugs for fancy's sake can get gaudy really quick, and I won't do them. More builders should refrain from "doing it" because they can. I would never go to into examples, but there are a lot of bicycles out there which are superbly constructed monstrosities. In fact I have one clipped out and taped to my shop wall to remind me. Oh, and the thing better do it's first job best, ride well.
Just the way I feel.
While at NAHBS this year I had an interesting conversation with a well respected, long time in the industry, frame building supplier. He was looking at my bike, and he asked me, "why don't you thin your lugs?" I was a bit taken aback, and not really prepared such a direct question which went directly to the root of my aesthetics. I did my best to explain that I made my lugs the way I wanted them, and if I'd wanted them thinned more I would have done it. But I also said I'd think about it. Well I have thought about it, quite a bit actually. I like thinned lugs. In fact, ALL of my lugs are thinned. Thinned lugs have a huge history, especially in American frame building. And the best reason I can give for not thinning them more, is I like the shoreline. As a frame builder who builds in lugs, the shoreline serves as an important indicator. It's where the land meets the sea, so to speak. Folks building their first frames muck up the shorelines with excess filler and then spend lots of time with little files and sandpaper trying to make it look better. Builders who do it right don't flood the shoreline, period. It's fairly easy to tell the difference, and if you've been following FNL for very long you can see how it's done right all the time. Thinning a lug takes the vertical shelf of the shoreline out of the picture. It's then no longer important to maintain that crisp edge while brazing if you know the edge will be filed away anyway. In essence, if I filed my lugs till they were flush with the tube, I would be taking away the barometer I've used to judge progress since my beginnings. As I've gotten better, I've been able to watch my shorelines get better. All of the above has nothing to do with aesthetics and what a builder might perceive as the goal. If the goal all along was to make beautiful thinned lugs it would be a whole different story.
What I want is a highly refined lug which doesn't jump out at the viewer. For this reason, and all the reasons above, I trim my lugs exactly how I want them, thin them conservatively in the best way I can, preserve the shoreline shelf, and make it look like I haven't done anything to them. I'm still working on getting what I want, and I hope the next set I complete is closer to what I envision.
your top tube and non-"thinned" (whatever that is) head tube lug look awesome with snot all over them.
That's interesting- I had a few folks ask me why I thin. And I agree, even when I taper into atmosphere, I still end up leaving a bit more edge then some. It's all about going after your goal.
Speaking of which, how is the new shop space treating you?
Working in a 12'x16' shop is a trip! I've got to stay super organized, and dedicate time to keep it tidy. I brazed up a front triangle yesterday and reminded myself I need to clear more space around my stand next time. I keep telling myself I'll go all around it and take some photos to post which would show my organization, but I'm constantly refining it. I think an ideal space would be just a little bit larger. I've made a conscious decision to work small, but it means I do without machines. If I wasn't painting I would have more room, since my booth takes up nearly a quarter of my shop. But overall, I smile everytime I turn the key and walk in.
In this shot I'm standing in front of my paint booth, which is to my left. To the right are the double entry doors. I've changed it around a bit since this photo, but you can get an idea of the space. My table is 2'x3'. If my shop was larger I'd get a 3'x4' in a heartbeat.
I can't speak for Craig, but the little jars help me keep the flux fresh and clean. Oddly enough, 10 1 lb jars also avoid the hazmat transportation fees the 1 10lb jar has.