over the past couple days i've been working on tubing blocks. i had planned to make them from 2x4s, but the shop i'm working in has these maple blocks, sort of like flooring pieces, available for $0.50 apiece.
i'll post pics later on, but the basic procedure is: plane the blocks flat (the shop flooded a while back so there was some water damage), then laminate 4 of them together, then clean up the edges with the jointer and planer, cut to vise width with the chop saw, drill the appropriate holes, then split them lengthwise on the table saw. total cost should be under $10 for the whole set of blocks (1.125", 1.25", plus a set for chainstays, seatstays, and fork blades), including a couple spade bits. the problem i ran into right before having to close up today was drilling the holes. they have to be quite deep, maybe 4" or 4.5", as well as pretty accurate in diameter so they'll hold the tube well. the maple's pretty hard, so the bit kept getting real hot and smoking. the bit's brand-new, too. i sharpened it with needle files and tried going a little at a time, with a break in between cuts to allow cooling, but the progress was slow. i got maybe halfway through the 1.125" block before i had to go to class.