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Thread: Watchouts in making a bed

  1. #1

    Watchouts in making a bed

    I am planning a headboard/footboard combo. I posted a picture in the design forum (asking a SU question).

    Would any of you who have made a bed, comment here on any watchouts, tips, things to plan for, etc. This will be my first bed project and I would like to be informed. I am planning a lengthwise board (stretcher?) to connect the headboard and footboard (as compared to just a formed metal rail). Mortise and tenon joinery seems like it would help keep the thing in square generally, but is this true. Hmmmm....then it will not come apart for transport (just dawning on me); can you make a mortise and tenon joint that comes apart?

    I would appreciate any advice.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan

    thanks for asking

    ken i have the same thng comiong up soon.. have some idea but will set back and let the pros and wize ones speak up.. i know that in here somewhere they have mentioned displeasure with some types of the bed bolts setup.. tod has a system he uses for doors thats rock solide... i was informed byt a large table maker that the mortised in hooks worked well.. exspecailly for the take apart aspect.. the ones i have seen in the local "amish furniture stores" use a a 2 part cast alum bracket that screws the appropiate parts. thats all i can give ya so let the owls start there hootin..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Beds with mortise and tenon joints can be made to dis-assemble, using either bed bolts from Woodcraft or similar vendor, or long bolts from the hardware store. Beds with tall posts have to be made this way or you can't get them through the door . The only one I made like that, I countersunk the bolt head with a 1" forstner bit, and press fit a fender washer into the hole to keep the head from crushing the wood. If I were doing this again, I'd use a metal plate with a threaded hole in the rail instead of a nut. Most difficult thing about making a bed, I think, is getting the frame the right size. First time everyone - including myself - seems to get it too big, not wanting to deal with it being too small . I'd make it no more than an inch over the mattress size in each direction.

    I've also used a ton of those bed rail hook connectors that get mortised into the rail and headboard/footboard. They worked fine, never saw a bed with those installed come back to the shop in the two years I worked there. Only trick to those is the mortise they're in should be nice and snug so the side of the mortise bears the weight instead of the screws.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    MEASURE THE MATTRESS CAREFULLY! I got my built and installed the mattress and it looked lost inside the frame.

    I only allowed a couple of inches around the mattress for stuff comforters and sheets but it was WAY to much. I had to cut down the headboard and the rails. I allowed one inch total on the width. I think I allowed 2 inches on the foot and headboard. I would have to measure to be sure but second time around everything worked out well.

    And I used bed rail hooks and they have worked fine. And if I ever need, it's simple to take apart.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Indianola, Ia about 12 miles south of Des Moines
    I used the motised in bed hooks on a captians trundle bed that I built for my boys years ago. The bed had 3x3 legs and 5/4 side rails. The hooks worked great and with 2 boys bouncing on the bed it was still solid when we sold it and put them in bunks because of space reasons.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Antonio, Texas
    I didn't use M&T joinery on mine, but I did use 6" lag bolts. The beds are now 25 years old and our youngest daughter has them for her two boys. We've moved them at least a dozen times (that means full disassembly) and they are still as rock solid as the day I built them. No wobble what so ever. I built mine around the matresses and I kept the tolerances fairly tight, only leaving about 1/2" clearance for bed linens, etc. and that seemed plenty... at least LOML never complained about it and she would have if it were a problem.

    In response to this thread I've been pondering the use of through M&T joinery with a wedge. But I'm not sure it wouldn't loosen up and make the bed wobble, and that wouldn't be good.

  7. #7
    Great responses, thanks. I am taking away that:
    -- dimensions of mattress/springs should be used and do not set too large a clearance; down to 1/2 in can work.
    -- M&T could work, but the mortised hook connectors will work also.
    -- "bed bolts" are another alternative. (can look like bed bugs if you glance too fast --- )


  8. #8

    Smile My Mission Style Bed

    Hey Ken,

    I have attached some pictures of a bed that I promised SWMBO before we got married. That was 15 years ago. It was suppose to be last years Christmas gift. I didn't get it done till june.

    The bed is made of all solid 15/16" Quarter sawn white oak, you will notice some of the saw marks on the sides of the frame where they will not show. I left them and just sanded them as smooth as possible to maintain he heavy look. The whole bed is Mortise and Tennon Joined together, except where the side rails come together, there I used the conventional bed hardware mortised into the end post and side rail. The end post are all hollow just the same as Stickley made them except I used the miter lock joint to hold all the boards together, that is a really neat joint once you figure out how to get the joints properly centered to one another, so you end up with a sharp edge on all four sides.

    The only metal in the entire bed is the hanger plates for the side rails. The whole frame fits around our metal box frame support, which sits inside and whe have a "Sleep Number" bed installed on it. The side rails do not carry the weight of the bed.

    Even though it is very heavy, the metal hanger side rail plates lock together and provide a very stable support to hold up the head and foot boards.

    Just for perspective, The head and foot cap boards are 6 1/2" wide, the side rails a 10" wide, all the slats are 1 1/2" X 3/8" wide. The posts are 4" square.

    I hope you find this helpful, if you have any questions, please e-mail me direct. This is the second one of these I have made. The other for a son graduating from College with a new bride.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Lincoln, UK
    I've only made a bed for a child but I suppose the principles are the same for an adult bed. I also made the frame too wide. I made the frame the size of the mattress then dropped it inside the 2 side rails on metal angles. I should have made the frame the width of the mattress LESS the combined width of the 2 side rails. That way, the mattress would have covered the side rails.

    I shall be prepared next time.
    Malcolm Webb (Lincoln, UK)
    When someone asks we what Rotary is all about,
    I tell them it's all about Fun, Fellowship and Caring Service.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    i`ve used both bolts and hooks, never had either fail.....i`m partial to bolts though.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

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