How to Assemble Dadant Style Frames

This past week, dad came by the house with a gift. He had watched an online tutorial on how to build Dadant style frames using a jig to speed the process up, and made one for us to use!

If you're just assembling or fixing a few frames, you probably won't use a jig, and instead can assemble them one at a time. However, if you're assembling more than 100 frames like I am, a jig comes in really handy.

A Jig will:
  • Hold 10 frames at a time
  • Keep the frames square and true
  • Allow for either hammer and nail technique, or air powered nail gun

For your convenience, you can download the jig plans here.
Giving Credit Where It's Due: We found and built plans from, who borrowed them from

We did make a change from the plans to reduce the height of the jig. Our jig is only 4-1/4" tall instead of 5" tall. This was done because we wanted to use the jig for small frames as well as medium and deep frames, and wanted to ensure we had enough room to use a hammer/air gun for all sizes.

Once your jig is built, the process of using it to assemble frames is as follows:

  1. Slide the two removable planks of wood through the notches on either side of the jig.

  2. Slide in 10 end bars in each side of the jig. Push them all the way down as far as they will go.

  3. Apply glue to each of the bottoms of the end bars. I like to use an acid brush, commonly used for plumbing work.

  4. Place the bottom bar into each of the 10 end bars.

  5. Nail each of the end bars to their respective side bar.

  6. Flip the jig over.

  7. Glue the top of each end bar.

  8. Place the top bar into each of the 10 end bars.

  9. Nail each of the top bars to their respective side bar. I put two nails from the top, and at least one from each side (nailing the top of the side bar to the bottom of the top bar).
    Wouldn't want the top bar coming loose with a frame full of heavy bees on it!

    If you're only building a set of 10 frames, you can leave them in the jig to dry. The jig will help ensure they dry in a square position.

    If you're making additional batches of frames, continue to step 10.

  10. Slide the removable planks of wood from each side of the jig.
  11. Carefully push/pull the frames from the jig. If you have a hive body available, hang them in the hive body to finish drying.

Our jig has an (optional) thin layer of wax rubbed on to the inside of the jig and removable planks. It's to help prevent glue drips from sticking to the jig. 

Comments For This Post: (6) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Anonymous says...
Date:   March 3, 2011, 10:33 am

MAKE SURE!  you put a nail or staple through the side of the frame into the top bar.  That joint does most of the heavy lifting if you know what I mean.

I use 2 inch staples on the frames

Anonymous says...
Date:   March 3, 2011, 11:03 am

The small nails that go into the side of the top bar through the top ears of the side bar are little nails in a little wood.  Go through the face of the side bar with a 2 inch nail or so like the pict.  The frames be in service longer. 

Just my opinion

chris says...
Date:   March 7, 2011, 3:47 pm

Great catch!

I accidentally forgot to mention in the steps to nail through the side of the end bars, into the bottom of the top bar.

I've spent the past week putting together my 120 frames, trying to get my 3 hives ready for this year!

I've been nailing the top, bottoms and sides of my frames, in addition to using wood glue. I don't want these to come apart on me during an inspection!


Hemlock says...
Date:   March 8, 2011, 2:47 pm

As far as the paint blister goes it's nothing to worry about. I believe the only reason these knots are so effected is due to the Mildew inside the box. All my boxes have knots here & there and none of them have had a problem before. Had the sheet I used to close the bottom board been painted none of this would have happened.

The fresh boxes you put your bees into this Spring will be well waxed and propolised by the time next Winter gets here.  If you put one coat of primer & two coats of top-coat you shouldn't expect any problems.

Ron Schwartz says...
Date:   March 3, 2014, 10:34 am

I have a question about the 4 1/4" tall side.  Did this not also require that you cut the side with the notch at 4 1/4" also?  Did you adjust the position of the notch so that it remains in the center?

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   March 3, 2014, 2:26 pm

Ron, you are correct! I must have missed my cup of coffee when I wrote that sentence. I'll get it changed in the article above. :)

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