Adjustable Frame Assembly Jig

I found a video on YouTube from Wendell Honey illustrating how to assemble beehive frames with their assembly jig.  Their jig is both functional and simple — making it a perfect tool.  The video may be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goHNHcJY4cU

What we want to do in the small hobby shop is make a similar jig that can be adjusted to hold from 8 to 20 frames which are either medium or deep in size.

Frame assembly jig

Assembly jig holds between 8 and 20 frames at one time

One end of this jig will slide in and out by means of hanger bolts riding in a groove along the sides.  It can be tightened in place against your inserted end bars using wing nuts (see below).  The dowels are removable and must slide out to remove the completed frames from the jig.  The dowels are designed to hold the end bars against the sides during assembly, therefore the space between the side of the jig and edge of the dowel must equal the thickness of your end bars.  The end of the jig away from the side grooves should be glued and fastened into place.

Frame jig medium configuration

In this photo, the jig is configured to assemble 10 medium frames. The leg extensions at each end are in the up position, and the end that slides is scooted in to butt against 10 end bars (not shown).

To adjust the jig for use with deep frames, loosen the wing nuts on the legs at each end to allow them to drop down 2-7/8″.  This feature is not absolutely necessary, but it is better to have the dowels apply pressure to the widest part of your end bars.  When assembling deep frames, raising the jig up with the extensions will produce a more convenient assembly.

Frame jig for deep frames

Here, the jig is raised up with the legs at each end to assemble deep frames. The end that moves is all the way to the end to make room for 20 end bars (not shown).

Dimensions: (Outside dimensions are based on the thickness of your materials)

  • Inside Width: 17-3/4″ / 451 mm
  • Inside Length: 27-7/8″ / 708mm (for 20 frames)
  • Height: 5-3/4″ / 146 mm (With extensions: 8-5/8″ / 219 mm)
  • Dowels:  32″ / 813 mm long by at least 1″ / 25 mm diameter

The length of the jig could be adjusted shorter or longer for your particular needs.  A jig that holds 24 frames, for example, could setup three 8-frame supers with one operation.

Closet rods make a great dowel for this jig.  A 1-1/2″ hole saw is used to make the holes for the dowels.  The hole being a little larger will allow for variances in the end bar thickness.  The end bars should not fit so tightly between the box and dowel that they are difficult to insert or remove.

The short grooves on the end extensions are made by drilling two holes then cutting out the groove with a jig saw.  The long grooves for the sides are made by:

  • drilling a hole at each end of the groove
  • drawing two lines between the outside edges of the holes
  • making most of the cut along the line with a table saw (taking care not to go past the drilled holes)
  • cutting the short distance remaining by hand with a jig saw.

Here are some possible loads for the jig to make frames for your boxes:

  • One load of 8 or 10 frames to setup one super.
  • One load of 16 or 20 frames to setup two supers.
  • Two loads of 12 to setup three 8-frame supers
  • Two loads of 16 to setup four 8-frame supers
  • Two loads of 20 to setup five 8-frame or four 10-frame supers

(c) 2012 Randal L. Carr   Reproduction for personal or non-commercial use is OK

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