Homemade bed that withstands non-sleep activities
January 18, 2008 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Woodworking filter: What steps can I take to ensure a home-built bed can withstand, umm, nocturnal escapades?

I am an aspiring woodworker, and I have a goal to furnish my house with furniture I built myself. One piece though that is stumping me is the bed: most of the plans I've found seem to assume that all you do in bed is sleep, ie, there's no horizontal movement going on, so all the support is built for vertical loads.

How can I ensure that the bed will withstand sex, especially without squeaking, while at the same time allowing for knockdown so that it can be moved? Are there special fasteners that I can use? Maybe special coatings to ensure pieces that rub don't squeak?

How was this done back in the day before IKEA invaded with particle board and cheap knockdown hardware?

NB, I am most interested in mission/craftsman styles, so mortise and tenon joints would be favorable, but they lose knockdown capability.
posted by toomanyplugs to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you want "bed hooks" or "bed rail hooks", like these
posted by so at 11:28 AM on January 18, 2008

I think the noisy part is the box spring. Go with a platform bed design to avoid that (and you get more storage space underneath). I really bet most of those designs you saw are perfectly strong for your intended purposes. However, if you do go with a platform bed the platform itself provides tremendous horizontal rigidity.
posted by caddis at 11:29 AM on January 18, 2008

Bed rail hooks cannot withstand that type of action.

Parts that rub assumes that something is loose enough to allow parts to move. If you build something sufficiently tightly with durable enough materials, there will be little to no movement. Use solid wood construction from hardwoods. Use sufficiently long bolts to hold things together. Bolts can be undone for breakdown.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:45 AM on January 18, 2008

Use solid hardwoods and pick up a book on Joinery. You can make some really decorative and very strong joints with the right tools and a little patience. Also don't join the whole bed, join the big pieces and use strategically placed bolts for support/strength/assembly.
posted by sanka at 12:13 PM on January 18, 2008

These bed bolts will work great but I used these and you can't get them apart without some pounding with a dead blow mallet.
posted by zeoslap at 12:36 PM on January 18, 2008

Yeah, bed rail hooks are terrible for that -- feels like the bed's gonna collapse!

You need strong, tight joints (big, long bolts with big flat washers so you can torque em down real good). The joints can be further reinforced with diagonal bracing, and the whole bed can be further reinforced with cables. Also, the shorter the legs, the less sway you'll get.

If it's any comfort, I guarantee that anything you build will be better than your average store-bought frame.
posted by LordSludge at 12:40 PM on January 18, 2008

Well I'll reiterate these hooks are rock solid. My rails about 1" thick though, but they are rock solid, no racking, no shifting, no squeaking, nada.
posted by zeoslap at 12:46 PM on January 18, 2008

Mine is also constructed with two stout rails dadoed/glued and screwed into the inside of the rails and the mattress is supported with one of these
posted by zeoslap at 12:50 PM on January 18, 2008

allowing for knockdown so that it can be moved

How much knockdown would you require? My father-in-law made us a platform bed that is king-sized when put together, but comes apart down the middle into two twin-sized beds. By using two halves, he was able to put more support in the various joints and whatnot.

It has suited us just fine for any purpose we've used it for (although the thought of my father-in-law anticipating EVERY use is ... icky), and my husband and I can move each half relatively easily enough. It uses Really Big Ass Hook and Eye Latches* to hold the two pieces together.

I can get you more detailed specs if you like.

*Official carpentry terms, I'm sure.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:59 PM on January 18, 2008

Heavy duty bed-rail hooks are a good start, but what so many beds are missing are *slats*. You want heavy-duty, rigid slats to extend from rail-to-rail below the box-spring. T-Slats are good, some come with channels for extra rigidity.

My current bed has some very spiffy slats made of solid red oak, each with its own pedestal support. It's rock solid.
posted by deCadmus at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2008

Best answer: For truly squeak free design you want to avoid steel holding wood joints together. The wood expands and shrinks over the course of the year as humidity changes resulting in bolts snugged in the winter crushing the fibers in summer (causing squeaks). Or bolts tightened in summer being loose in winter causing squeaks and then condition one six months later when they are tightened while loose in the winter.

"I am most interested in mission/craftsman styles, so mortise and tenon joints would be favorable, but they lose knockdown capability."

If that's what you like use a draw bored or tusk tenon [PDF]. I used tusk tenons on my woodworking bench and as long as your shoulders are square it is very strong. A four post bed with deep panelled rails with tusk tenons top and bottom would be bullet proof. However a 8" solid rail with a double tusk tenon would be more than sufficient for in most cases.
posted by Mitheral at 2:02 PM on January 18, 2008

I second Zeoslap on the Rockler hooks. Our bed has them and is rock solid, even after several moves. I was skeptical the first time I put it together. No squeaks. No movement. And the wife is 7 months pregnant if you need some proof regarding the sex thing.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 2:08 PM on January 18, 2008

Best answer: My experience, given lots of shake those hooks will loosen, at least in the soft woods I can afford. A wedged, tusk and tennon (fig 153) is the most beautiful of joints, easily dismantled but can be tightened up to really hold. Takes a while to cut but makes for a real eye catching feature.(try pinning the wedge if it starts slipping.) Any joints that do not need to be dismantled, slap a load of wood adhesive on.
posted by Will Duck at 2:18 PM on January 18, 2008

Thank you Mitheral, very well said.
posted by Will Duck at 2:20 PM on January 18, 2008

A second for bed bolts.

That link has a quick explanation.
posted by Max Power at 2:27 PM on January 18, 2008

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