To get an overview of the wide variety of jigs framebuilders use, go to Stephanie Montfrey's site dedicated to showing a lot of the available options: http://www.geocities.com/smonfrey You will even find a picture of our esteemed webmaster Dale and his fixture. Essentially, a jig holds the frames tubes in the right position so they can be brazed or welded together. There are several questions that need to asked if one is in the market, the most obvious one is, how much are you willing to spend? Because of course if you are only going to make a frame occasionally for the fun of it, your requirements are quite different than if it is an attempt to make money. It is possible to trade time for tooling. It also makes a difference if you plan on tig welding steel or titanium where there is need for greater access around the joint and for back purging with argon.
I remember chatting with Ben Serotta many years ago when the bike show was held in New York. He said that building frames was just an excuse to design and build fixtures. Besides buying a vertical milling machine and making one yourself (a really good option because it can be used later to miter tubes), the most commonly purchased ones in the States are from Henry James Bicycles, Joe Bringheli and Anvil fixtures. If you have $7500, the Anvil Master is in a class by itself. He also has a Journeyman model for half that cost but without all the features.
Besides the Anvil and Bike Machinery (the one Richard Sachs uses) fixtures in my shop (Henry James is sending me one of his nice ones, too), the basis of how I work is a design/miter checking/spotting fixture based on one I got from Johnny Berry in Manchester, England. This type of fixture was in common use in England and is the one I would keep if I could only have one. F.W. Evans in the 40's wrote an advertising brochure for his frames that expounded on the virtues of this fixture which he insinuates he designed. His arguments for it are still valid today. List member Peter Brown of Lincolnshire was kind enough to send me a scan. Mark Bulgier also has it online. If you look at the Picture of framebuilder Tom Board on our Classic Rendezvous site, you will see his copy of it on the wall behind him. At Ellis Briggs where I learned, there was an old one hanging on the wall behind there real fixture. It is simple and intuitive and produces accurate results if used in combination with a good alignment table. One of the reasons I was delighted to have learned from Briggs is that they had the best fixture I knew about in England. This allowed them to base their methods on the best way to make a frame and not how to it needs to be done if only using simple handmade tools. It was made from a 3'X4' cast iron surface plate. Actually if I was to want to make more than just a couple of frames, I would first get some kind of alignment table. This is really the basis for accurate work and should be the foundation for framebuilding equipment.
I hope that sometime before either one of us dies from natural causes, you can take one of my framebuilding classes. I'll be putting my website about it back up again soon. For those interested, the cost is $1200 and I have a class in August and another in Oct. Contact me for details.
Doug Fattic Niles, Michigan but trained in Shipley, West Yorkshire, UK
On 5/2/07 9:19 AM, "email@example.com"
> Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 07:10:10 -0400
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> Subject: [CR]Question on frame jigs for the KOF's
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> Is there a preferred make or model of frame jig- What factors should be
> considered by the first timer or layman?
> Todd Cirelli
> Mechanicsburg, PA