Bed Frame construction

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Forum topic by Chris P posted 02-19-2013 02:02 PM 19949 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris P

93 posts in 2827 days

02-19-2013 02:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bed frame joinery

I’m looking to build a bed frame very soon and I’m wondering if anybody has suggestions on how to do the joinery that meets the side stretchers to the head and foot board. I would obviously like to be able to assemble and disassemble it if needed. If possible I’m trying to avoid store bought brackets or metal hardware but am having a hard time thinking of a suitable joint that can be disassembled and still be strong enough. I’m not completely opposed to the hardware idea but if I can I’d like to do it with joinery. Any ideas? Thanks!

-- Chris, Long Island

22 replies so far

View Cinch123's profile


3 posts in 3212 days

#1 posted 02-19-2013 02:54 PM

How about a through mortise with a tusk tenon? You would not be able to slide it all the way against the wall (the tenon and tusk take up a little room) but you would be able to knock out the tusk and pull the bed rails out of the head and foot board.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3700 days

#2 posted 02-19-2013 03:44 PM

Love that idea, Cinch. A sliding dovetail is another good approach.

-- jay,

View TimberFramerBob's profile


68 posts in 2465 days

#3 posted 02-19-2013 04:20 PM

a simple mortise and tenon joint would work fine(trust me),....oak peg that you could knock out, maybe even draw bore it…..plenty strong and you can get it tight to the wall. A through tenon with a wedge might work loose….depending on how much your bed moves…..;)

-- ..........a man who works with his hands, his brains, and his an artist.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3511 days

#4 posted 02-19-2013 06:26 PM

A minimal amount of hardware for your consideration if you can’t find a joint that fits

I’ve done a couple of beds with these and they’re very strong with stub tenons or dowels on the rails.

View needshave's profile


177 posts in 2501 days

#5 posted 02-19-2013 06:48 PM

I’m building one right now using Mortise and Stub tenons. Drawing tight with two hex head bolts on each corner thru the tenons into barrel nuts in the rail. The head of the bolt is covered by fake tenons on the outside. It is very very strong and I wanted it that way. The bed is for my son and new wife and well…’s for my son and his new wife!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6002 posts in 3355 days

#6 posted 02-19-2013 06:56 PM

I would use FWW’s method of bolts hidden under faux tenons. Here is a link to the video series…

I would hate to try to bang apart a pegged M&T joint just to move a bed.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View stefang's profile


16821 posts in 3876 days

#7 posted 02-19-2013 07:29 PM

There’s a great article in FFW mag. dated Feb. 2005 issue no. 175 by Jeff Miller. He shows several different excellent options for what you want to know about. You can also find the same article at this link if you have access.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View steve's profile


363 posts in 2535 days

#8 posted 02-19-2013 11:48 PM

I realize you mentioned you didn’t want to use hardware if at all possible…I just want to show you the system I used a few months ago…The brackets are from Rockler…Believe me when I say I am a type of woodworker that does not like to use even a brad nail, but these brackets made the Bed VERY strong, it doesn’t move, not at all.
And, they are un-seen. But I do understand your “want” to use a traditional wood joint.
I still use wooden drawer runners on everything, except kitchens, I like to use joinery also, but just give it a look.

-- steve/USA

View pete57's profile


134 posts in 3953 days

#9 posted 02-20-2013 12:52 AM

I have built several beds, each being better and better, but I use a mortise and tenon joint. I us a 1/2” mortise in the leg and a tenon on the rail. I drill 2 one inch holes from the other side about 1 inch deep and then a 3/8 inch hole through to the mortise. I fit the tenon into the leg and drill the holes 1 inch more. There is a bolt online at Fastenal called a hanger bolt. I use them about 3/8 X 5 inches and do that to all 4 legs. I have a couple solid 3/8 solid capped nut to get the screw down to the washer (3/8 washers are 1 inch in diameter and back that off to put a regular nut on. The legs at the end of the bed you see I use Escutcheons to cover those. Some use one dead center but I do not like my beds to squeak at all. I could never afford those nice bed bolts and had this stuff readily available in my work. I have a tall pencil post bed now and when I want to take it down I just undo the the nuts and load it up. If I lose the nuts and washers, it is less that if you lose the bed bolts?? I have done this for a couple customers and they liked it.

-- Humble Wood Servant

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Chris P

93 posts in 2827 days

#10 posted 02-20-2013 01:56 AM

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I think a tusk tenon is just too bulky for the style of bed I’m going to be making. I think I’ve narrowed it down to either straight up hardware or a stub tendon with a bolt through the other side. I’m going to have to agree with pintodeluxe on not wanting to bang a peg out of a mortise and tenon just to move a bed. although I love the idea of using all wood joinery incorporating some sort of hardware is just so more practical. I think I have a little more designing to do before I make a final decision but as expected lumberjocks to the rescue!

-- Chris, Long Island

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4435 days

#11 posted 02-20-2013 02:43 AM

What ever floats your boat works in the end

I no longer debate the merits of what works for some and what works for others but this one works for me.

I move a lot.
My life requires me to do so.
I hate beds that break
I’m not fond of a squeeky bed
I have to be able to move it in and out easily
it cannot fail


The bed has to be able to go through hell and back

Mortise and tenon combined with mechanical fixture

In the end, its only a luxury of holding a mattress off the floor

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4435 days

#12 posted 02-20-2013 02:49 AM

that mortise and tenon, pulled together with a bolt ….its locked solid

think about it

its not much different then a nice work bench


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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Chris P

93 posts in 2827 days

#13 posted 02-20-2013 04:21 AM

Moron that’s a great way to look at it, in the end what works, works right? As far as what the needs of this project goes I think the mortise and tenon pulled together with a bolt seems to fit those needs the best.

In the end a bed that doesn’t squeak or hit the floor will help me sleep at night rather knowing that it’s being held together with some sort of fanciful journey. Now to the sketchbook!

-- Chris, Long Island

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2897 days

#14 posted 02-20-2013 07:34 AM

stopped dove tail joint on the rail. Never tried it, but it should work.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2539 days

#15 posted 03-05-2013 12:14 AM

neeshave’s method with the stub tendons and bolts is a very solid design I made one that way for the wife and I when we were younger still holding up well :-} I think rockler sells some nifty little brass bed bolt covers.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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