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    A bike enthusiasts dream, I believe, would be to work as a frame builder. Maybe I am wrong, but I feel like it would be the best job in the world for me.

    What sort of steps would one need to take to become a moderately financially stable frame builder for any of the manufacturers out there? I have this idea that, to become a builder you must be grandfathered into a business through some family connection and that they wouldnt let just anyone work for them.

    Theres more to be said here, but I have to poop right now, so I'll let everyone else figure the general topic of my questions.
    • CommentAuthorsfbee
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    I would assume that you would need to build a name for yourself by pumping out quality frames as an independent builder. Once you've developed a good reputation, you'll either be raking in the dough from your already established building practice, or other companies (of the few that actually still build by hand) might actually contract out to you or hire you on as a full time employee.
    • CommentAuthorwes m.
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    The best place to start would be to get into a frame building class such as yamaguchi frame building school. Maybe work for someone who knows more than you after that. Once you actually know what you are doing you can attempt to start your own thing. Expect to go into debt, its the way of the small business. Go into debt, work really really hard to scrape by and pay the bank back, and if you are lucky enough you might break even or turn a profit.

    Its the same with every trade/skill based job. Im in the middle of it for organic farming right now. Basic education (bachelors in agroecology for me), apprenticeship (paying my dues to learn stuff they dont teach in school), starting my own farm (being a slave to the bank), and maybe emerging with a successful business that makes me happy within a few decades.

    Personally I would hate to be a frame builder. I dont particularly like metal, loud noises, and bright lights. Tons of frames sounds nice though.
    i think sfbee has the idea. and also you have to worry about maby getting burned out. i could see myself getting bored with bikes if thats the only thing i ever did or thought about.
    • CommentAuthorAaron C
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    i'd start with some simple metal working first, learn to cut, machine, shape and weld metal (TIG and oxy-acetylene) before venturing into the world of frame building.
    sure you could just go take a class like yamaguchi's but him holding your hand through the design process isn't going to help you start you own business is you don't already bring some damn good skills to the table to begin with.

    also working with metal is a desirable skill to have as far as employment is concerned and it will help you decide if frame building is for you. working steel and aluminum is definitely not for everyone and if you don't find doing simple metalworking tasks fun you sure as hell aren't going to want to do it for a job (even if it is bikes)
    Take some community college metalworking classes. Most frame building classes ask for at least semi-competent welding experience. I think it is mildly silly to assume that taking a frame building class (even Yamaguchi's, which is intense) will even get you a job with a frame builder. Take a cheap CC class or two first.
    • CommentAuthorAaron C
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    • CommentAuthorSkidMark
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    I think knowing about frame design is more important than the metalwork skills. There are tons on people right now slapping tubes together into bicycle-shaped objects, and there are tons of people with capital that take a plane to Taiwan, and pick out some frames and parts from some catalogs. We are at the height of a boom and I guarantee that within 3 years most of these companies are gonna be belly up or onto the next big thing. If you want to withstand the test of time you are going to have to do something beyond some tarckmobile in the latest colorways. It will have to stand out without being gimmicky. If you really want to be a framebuilder making a name for yourself this knowledge and a knowledge of bike fit are going to be just as important as your constructing abilities and the finish and graphics on the bike.

    If you just want to work for someone else then there is United Bicycle Institute. They have classes in tig, fillet brazing, and lugged frame construction. I would choose that over Yamaguchi simply because you would get more out a master like Yamaguchi if you already understood frame design and layout and then you could concentrate on building something extraordinary. Obviously UBI is a good foundation for someone who wants to build frames using their own name, most of the local Oregon framebuilders have went to school there.
    I'm not suggesting that having metalworking experience is more important than frame design/building experience. To make any money in this industry the local builder obviously needs good reason to charge (and expect folks to pay) for a custom/local frame. Simply having metalworking experience won't give anyone that. More my point is that going straight from an idea to a frame design class/school/whatever is very expensive and often involves travel and residence in a spot where the learner does not live. That seems like a pretty stupid idea if you're running at frame building on a whim. Especially if you don't have the means to up and leave work/school for weeks or months. Taking a CC class or two will give you a good idea of what metalworking is about without costing much in terms of time or money. If you like it, you will be better off in a frame class/school than you would have been without the CC. If you don't like it, you're not out $7000.
    • CommentAuthorAaron C
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2009
    Posted By: Aaron Cexactly.
    I don't know anyone "raking in the dough", but Mickey over at Spooky Bikes seems to make a living. It's sure not easy, though.

    But you don't start on your own. You start as an apprentice. This is hardcore traditional craft. You need a lot of experience before people will start paying you for your efforts in any commensurate way.

    Me, I'd like to learn how to do it because I love to build stuff. But it would be a long row to hoe if I were intending to sell frames and not go broke in the process.

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