What tools are required to begin building a frame? Are there DIY substitutes for any of them?

Are there things that aren't requirements, but simplify the process enough to be worth the cost?

Aside from classes at a place like UBI, how do you start learning what is required to practice this art form?

  • Related: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2908/…
    – lantius
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 20:42
  • 1
    Also, as mentioned in that thread, the framebuilders list (note the new Google Groups location since Alex migrated it) is an extremely useful resource.
    – lantius
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 20:45
  • Four years later - I am curious to hear how you went with this!
    – andy256
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 0:11
  • @andy255, I ended up waiting to go to UBI. Built a couple of frames, had some fun, and then pretty much set it aside.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


Not so long ago every reasonably sized town in the UK had one or more bike shops that could build a custom frame. I cannot believe this has gone during my lifetime. Anyway, the entry into frame building used to be quite low. You needed a jig, an oxy-acetylene torch, lugs, a frameset and some brass alloyed specially for brazing.

There is a supplier of all of the above in the UK that you may wish to contact:


Before investing in the whole kit you may want to have a go at brazing things together with the torch. This is great fun and with relatively simple projects such as repair jobs of non-bicycle things you can pick up experience with the torch.

Most frame-builders of yore bought tubesets with only those able to demonstrate skill being allowed to buy Reynolds 531. An even smaller elite were allowed onto 753 that you need to silver solder instead of the normal bronze brazing. You can start out with the 'gas pipe' hi-ten steel frameset, maybe to make something special such as your own recumbent. Then you can move on as you feel you want to to try the more expensive steel and fillet rather than lug construction.

I have no idea how you make the leap onto 6 and 7 series aluminium welding, but steel is a great material to work with and you will have a lot of fun keeping the lost art of frame building alive.

As for going on a course, what you really need is enthusiasm and someone to show you. You need to be an apprentice of some retired person that has skills in what used to be commonplace.

Entry into the above is really not that expensive when compared to a fancy road bike, you are getting me inspired to give it a go myself!

  • 1
    I'd love to apprentice with someone, but I live in Dubai. There's only been a cycling scene here at all for 9 years, and before that there wasn't even an LBS. I'm going to have to learn by doing. I've scheduled a class at UBI, but not till next summer, and I don't want to wait that long to get started.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 2:54
  • Fantastic question b.t.w. - all the best and have great fun doing it. Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 9:07
  • Thx, @ʍǝɥʇɐɯ, I will do my best.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 9:18

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