Resolving a Rickety Bed Frame
Issue: Issue 259
Posted Date: 10/5/2010
I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA), and we do
a lot of camping. Because neither my wife nor I can sleep on the
ground without waking up in a lot of pain, I built a queen-sized bed
using glued together 2x4s as corner posts (since the only 4x4s that
I could find that weren’t pressure treated turned out to be
rotten), side rails made out of 2x10s, head- and footboards made from
2x12s (two boards, one on top of the other to make a tall headboard),
four slats topped with three-quarter-inch plywood underneath a
queen-sized futon mattress. The 2x0s, the 12x12s and the 2x4s I used
to make the corner posts are all of white pine.
order to make this bed easy to take apart for transport, I used
hardware that is similar to that used on beds used in the house
(fingers that fit into sockets). Unfortunately, the bed was very hard
to set up: it fell apart on my son several times as he tried to set
it up. To try and fix this, I replaced this hardware with hinges so
that I could pop the pins out when I wanted to take the bed apart.
However, the bed is not as stable as I would like. Can you give me
any suggestions on what I can do to make this bed more stable? We
will be using the bed the end of this month on a camping trip, but I
am planning on rebuilding it from the ground up this fall/winter.
the bed is used for outdoor camping I was also thinking of using
pressure treated 4x4s for the corner posts. - John Bridges
It sounds like the hinge hardware still allows too much play when the
pins are installed to keep the framework tight and stable. I would
want a better solution as well. You've also tried the bed rail
fasteners, but with disappointing results. I have two ideas — both
for you to consider when/if the time comes to rebuild that bed.
First, consider using bed bolts run through the corner posts and
threading into captured nuts in the rails. Tightening up this
hardware should take the "slop" out of the bed frame and
still give you the knockdown convenience you want for transport. You
can see a photo of those bolts here. Rockler sells them, as do other
woodworking suppliers. Another option would be to connect the rails
to the corner posts with long through tenons, then use a wedge tusk
to lock the tenons against the back sides of the posts (think of a
traditional trestle table base). This would also give you a way to
disassemble the frame, but building the frame would require more
sophisticated woodworking at the outset.
that lumber is overkill, John. But, if that's what you want, then you
have to deal with the consequences. There is no way in my mind that
much lumber can be made lighter and easier to handle. Short of
building the bed on a trailer, permanently, I'm at a loss. If it is
just comfort you're after, why not use a nice inflatable mattress
that folds up when you're done with it?