Bed Construction

I'm making a child bed and I'm not sure how I should connect the rails to the foot head board (Bed bolts or mortised brackets)
I bought the new issue of Fine WoodDorking and I'm still not sure what to do. I am going to use through mortise and tenon joinery for the head/foot rail to post joint. The article states that mortised brackets can loosen up over time and they are best used on "occassionaly used beds". This was the method I was going to use.
My question is: Can I still use through tenon joinery and bed bolts? The two will intersect each other in the post. Thats is, the bed bolt will need to be driven through the post and tenon. I would like to avoid using haunched multiple tenons.
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stoutman wrote:

As an aside to your question (rather than an answer) there isn't a bed I can think of that we haven't taken apart and moved a few, several, or many times. Since this is a child's bed and might be moved around, why not use the kind of brackets that are most easily taken apart and put back together again? Josie
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I think your referring to mortised bed brackets. In the newest issue of Fine Woodworking they state that bed brackets loosen up over time easily and should be used for "occassional use" beds only. I have never used them before and I was planning on using them here until I read the article. I want this bed to 'last forever' if possible :)

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I made a pencil post bed out of cherry many years ago. The posts were mortised, and I had made tenons on the bed rails. I inserted bed bolts into the ends of the tenons and cut a hole in the post for the other end of the bolts. I then cut a recess for the nuts & washers. Then, covered the holes with brass bed post hole covers, and it's worked like a charm. It's been taken apart and put back together more times than I care to remember. I believe I found an article in Fine Woodworking sometime in the early '80's that described how to do it.
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I made a pencil post bed out of cherry many years ago. The posts were mortised, and I had made tenons on the bed rails. I inserted bed bolts into the ends of the tenons and cut a hole in the post for the other end of the bolts. I then cut a recess for the nuts & washers. Then, covered the holes with brass bed post hole covers, and it's worked like a charm. It's been taken apart and put back together more times than I care to remember. I believe I found an article in Fine Woodworking sometime in the early '80's that described how to do it.
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I read that article, and I was very surprised to see FW say that about the mortised brackets. I built my daughter's bed 6 years ago using these brackets. It's built very "heavy" out of hard maple and weighs a ton. At the time I built it, I read every book and article I could get my hands on about bed construction, including at least a couple books published by Taunton Press (publisher of FW?) and articles that had appeared in older FWs, and all the things I had read which had included these brackets had never said anything about any problem with them loosening or that they were only suitable for "occasionally used" beds. These brackets are made in two different lengths (I forget what the lengths are). Not every catalogue I consulted carried both lengths, but I got the longer length, which has one or two more "hooks" than the shorter one. When you fit these babies into tight mortises and screw them down, and then hook 'em together, there ain't no way that thing is coming apart. My daughter has used the bed for six years. Admittedly she doesn't weigh very much, but she and many of her friends have sat and stood and jumped on it for all these years, without the slightest hint of wobbliness; it's as solid as the day it was built, which is very solid, and I'm confident it will remain so. I was pretty paranoid at the time about the possibility of kids playing under the bed and it collapsing on one of them, so I subjecte the built bed to lots of stomping, pushing, and worst-case-scenario abuse before I put it into service. I was satisfied that it was at least as solid, probably more so, than any of the other commercially made beds in the house. The design is such that the more force you apply to these brackets, the "tighter" the bracket locks together. In fact, it would not be that easy to separate the pieces if you were purposely trying to do so.
I used them because this was a modern design and I didn't care for the look of bed bolts. This was a cleaner design to my eye, with no visible hardware. I did follow one piece of advice which appeared in several articles when installing the part of the bracket which is fitted into the end of the bed rail. Since this requires screwing into end grain, I drilled a hole from the bottom edge of the end rail, near the end where the bracket was being mortised, to accept a hardwood dowel. That way, the big, fat, long screws I used to screw the bracket into the end of the bed rail is biting into cross-grain (if that's the right term) hardwood rather than endgrain. The dowel is not visible since it's drilled from the lower edge. Believe me, these are never coming apart.
I suppose if you were moving the bed alot by pushing it from the ends (especially over carpet or some other surface with more friction), that might put more stress on these brackets. But even then I doubt you'd have a problem, and most people don't move beds in this fashion very often. Certainly I've moved this bed across a hardwood floor a few times in six years, and detected absolutely no movement of the joint.
I guess bed bolts are ultimately the safest, and the nice thing about them is that they'd fail slowly with plenty of warning. But I really don't think you'd have to worry about these brackets.
Hope this helps.
stoutman wrote:

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Thanks! Very helpful. I think you swayed me back to the brackets. I really didn't want to mess with bed bolts for aesthetic and construction reasons.
Thanks again.

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Watch the quality. What makes them work is the wedging action, and there, all are not created equal.
If the bed loosens, and even when the wife and I were young that did not become a problem, you can tap the hook portion of the bracket closed a bit more to wedge the rail tight up against the post.

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You can use a shallow mortise, plus anchor bolt. This allows disassembly and moving the bed easily. The shallow mortise adds considerable strength. I did this with my 8-foot work bench.
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stoutman wrote:

I just completed building a bed for my oldest son and I used, what I thought was, an ingenious method for attaching the rails to the posts. It uses a bed-bolt of sorts but it is "blind" from the outside. I can't claim credit for the original idea as it came out of the book called "Beds" by Jeff Miller (ISBN: 1561582549).
It is a bit tough to describe, but I will try.
First of all, I cut a shallow mortise into the post and a corresponding tennon onto the rail to stop any twist that might be natural when downward pressure is applied. Second, I took 4 pieces of flat steel 1/4" thick about 2"x2" and drilled and tap'ed them to 5/16" to serve as oversized "nuts". I then mortised them into the BACK of the tennon that is on the end of the headboard and footboard bottom stingers. They can certainly be through-tennons as I don't think it will matter. I dry fitted the headboard and footboards and drilled 1/2 way through the post in the center of the rail mortise and tennon on the stringer. I then disassembled and cur the mortises for the nuts using the holes as a guide. You then have a hole through the post and tennon and a nut in the back of the tennon. Only thing left to do is to drill into the end of the rail (I recommend a drilling jig for this so your drill stays straight) and cut a pocket in the rail for the nut. Jeff Miller uses a bed bolt in his book and as a result he has to cut a long pocket in the rail so he can slide the bolt in. I didn't want to do this so I used all-thread instead which eliminates the need. This resulted in a rock-solid bed without having to resort to brackets or have bed bolts showing and that breaks down very easily. I realize my description might not be the best so I will attempt some ASCII art. It will also be very clear if you can get your hands on a copy of the book and replace the bolt in your mid with all-thread.
SIDE View (inside of rail)
Post | | | | Rail | |-------------------------------- | | | |--| | | | | | --------- | N|| | |Bolt | Nut | | U||============# | T|| | | | | | | | | --------- | | | | | |--| | | |-------------------------------- | | | | | |
Hope it helps
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