Since I developed the need to try and get some bees again I pulled some of my old old bee gear out of storage. To my horror, quite a few bits had developed major issues with borers and largely turned to dust :shock: The 9 frame super pictured below is in bad shape, so I have recycled a pallet into a top and bottom for it to convert it to a swarm trap- hopefully a successful one so the borers haven't beat me on all counts.
I know that a swarm trap has not much to do with frame building, but the borers did a number on all the important stuff, so I built a new frame making jig, starting with Robbo's plans I found on the forum.
As some of my unbuilt frames that survived have 3mm shorter bottom bars, I cut a piece of ply to act as a shim behind the end bars. That required a narrower board to hold the inside of the end bars (shown in the jig on the left). I also added some wedges to make the jig adjustable (an idea that I think I stole form someone else on Beemaster) to handle the variations in frames. The form board I used before was pretty basic too, so I made a variation on the Beesource form board to take full depth and ideal sized (similar to US shallow I think) frames with reversable pieces to accommodate the different styles.
Before anyone comments about the number of screws I used, I was trying to limit the warping of the supposedly seasoned pine we get here. It still warped enough to be a nuisance.
My old wiring board made from a piece of form-ply and some not too carefully placed nails also ended up as borer breakfast, so I needed a new one of those too. I have thought long and hard about what I wanted, using all the OCDs and indecision I could muster. I ended up with the wiring board shown below that I have made adjustable for full depth and ideal sized frames. The support for the top bar or bottom bar can be moved as can the rollers on the side to accomodate different numbers of wire runs or differently spaced holes. I have a few different styles of ideal sized frames - I didn't ever think that there would be so many different variations in the placement of wire holes between different manufacturers or even the same manufacturer.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to be left or right handed, so I made the wire spool detachable so that it can be held by friction on either side of the wiring board. The wire runs through a little "clamp" setup with leather lined jaws and the tension can be changed by tightening or loosening the two screws. The leather and the Sharkbite plastic water pipe through the centre of the spool means that the wire isn't prone to fly off on it's own accord and make birds nests. The supports for the lower part of the end bars can be removed as I have some frames without the Hoffman bee space rebates. Otherwise they support the frame so that they don't bounce when hammering in the tacks.
I added a detachable tool tray to hold eyelets, tacks etc (in recycled stackable sardine tins) and to help me keep track of the tools - otherwise I sit the hammer down on the bench and can't find it for several minutes. I wanted a bit of space, so I made the board 900mm long (about 3 foot), but I can still happily sit in front of the TV at night with the wiring board in my lap and wire a up few frames. By the way, the eyelet tool is made from an old cheap and nasty screwdriver. It works well providing the holes in the end bars aren't too big to grip the eyelets firmly.
I know that a lot of this is mostly overkill and certainly not perfect, but hopefully a few people will find it interesting and maybe get a few ideas for their own frame making tools. One of the problems I have encountered since building the form board and the wiring board is that I found that frames with plastic end bars have protrusions that means that they don't fit or aren't held very well in either - this only became a problem after someone gave me 20 or so plastic frames that needed re-wiring. Says a lot for having all your gear from the same manufacturer and all the same size.
Also, thanks everyone for the plans, ideas and advice that I have used to build my frame making tools.