Log Bed Question

Hiya Folks, My latest projects aren't what you'd call fine woodworking but nevertheless, involve wood! I'm building some log furniture and am currently working on a queen sized bed. I've got the head board and foot board built and am getting ready to get the rails installed. I'm planning on putting a 3" diameter x 2" high tenon on each end of the rails and mount these into 3" diameter mortises (holes!) in the legs. Additionally, I plan to come from the other side of the legs with a lag bolt to tighten it all up (need to keep it so I can break it down....so no glue). This presents a situation where the lag bolt will be going into the end grain of the log rail. The logs are about 7" in diameter. A previous bed I built, I used 1/2" x 6" lags and it seems to have worked ok although it does wobble a bit with a bit of effort. I must say, I tightened the lags up somewhat gingerly as I was afraid I'd tear out of the end grain. So I'm wondering a couple things. A) I could drill out a hole in the bottom of the rail and fill it with a hard maple plug (2" diameter x 2" h) for the lag to bite into. This would present edge grain for the lag to bite into. Will this buy me anything or is end grain plenty strong to hold the lags? B) I plan to put longer lags in, say 8" instead of what I did previously (6"). Will this really buy me much? Thanks much for the help! Cheers, cc
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Teh short answer is yes, screwing through the side grain of a plug would be preferable to end grain. However, using a bolt (machine threads) into a captured nut is going to allow you to really torque things down. Google "bed bolt".
-Steve

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Good idea about the maple plug, as end grain will loosen up over time, or just install a nut and washer in the hole you drill and use a bolt? I don't think 8 will buy much over what 6 inches will, into end grain. Also, a lot of strength is aquired by the shoulders of the tenon, and with your using logs, it makes it tougher to get that mechanical advantage. Tom
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You should learn about bed bolts. They are built specifically for this operation and don't depend on threads holding in the wood. It is a fool proof mechanical solution that can be tightened up to kill all of he wobble.
Fine Woodworking magazine had a comprehensive article on this a whle ago.
Look here http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/product_details.cfm?offerings_id=12 look on the more info tab for a diagram.

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You should learn about bed bolts. They are built specifically for this operation and don't depend on threads holding in the wood. It is a fool proof mechanical solution that can be tightened up to kill all of he wobble.
Fine Woodworking magazine had a comprehensive article on this a whle ago.
Look here http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/product_details.cfm?offerings_id  look on the more info tab for a diagram.
Hiya, I'm aware of bed bolts. Was just looking for something a little stronger. With lags, I can go 1/2" diameter. I may combine both and use 1/2" bolts with nut/washers though. This is in Pine so I figure I'll have to get in pretty far to avoid any sort of pullout down the road. Cheers, cc
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stronger.
While lag screws have there uses, bolting together a bed is not one of them.
What you can do is to make a tapered blind mortise in the post and in the rail drill a 1 inch hole to accept a metal rod that has a tapped hole in it. Now you can use a cap screw with a washer to snug the rail to the post. As the wood shrinks you can re-snug as needed. To disassemble remove the cap screw and tap with a mallet.
By trying to do this with a lag screw into the wood you are asking for failure.
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">

I got the idea for lags from a Log furniture book I bought a few years back. I have one bed already built this way with no additional support for the lags (ie. inserts etc...). So far so good......5 years and no worries. But I understand the concerns with lags....they're certainly not ideal. Cheers, cc
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OK then if you want to make the lag work better you can do a cross dowel similar as is done with bread board ends some times. Just bore a 2" round hole from the inside face of the of log rail 1 1/2 inches from the end. drill 3/4 of the way through the log. Then pound in a 2" round dowel into the hole. Now when you lag in from the end you'll cut into the side of the dowel so you don't have an end grain situation.

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OK then if you want to make the lag work better you can do a cross dowel similar as is done with bread board ends some times. Just bore a 2" round hole from the inside face of the of log rail 1 1/2 inches from the end. drill 3/4 of the way through the log. Then pound in a 2" round dowel into the hole. Now when you lag in from the end you'll cut into the side of the dowel so you don't have an end grain situation.
Thanks. That's what I just finished doing as a matter of fact. About to go bore my pilot holes and bolt it together. Far from fine furniture but it'll be functional! Thanks for the help. Cheers, cc
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Cubby wrote:

Not sure why you'd need heavier than 3/8" but if you do, then how about timber bolts and the appropriate sized dock washers? For examples of each go to http://www.jamestowndistributors.com and search on "Timber bolts" and "Dock washers"--I started to do the links but they came out about ten lines long.
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.

The biggest reason for not wanting to do a bolt/nut setup is I really didn't want to try to mortise out a slot for the bolt that was 4" deep (logs are about 8" diameter). Maybe I didn't mention it earlier but the logs are mortised and tenon'ed together with 3" diameter tenons. I just need something to hold it tight as I'm not glueing these. I've gone ahead and installed inserts of wood into the logs so the lags will engage non-end grain. This should be plenty strong I believe. I'm about to go out to the garage, er shop, and put it together so we'll see. Thanks much. I handn't heard of "timber bolts" before. Cheers, cc
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For those interested, here's a follow-on to my original post. I ended up putting in inserts into the bed rails and used 1/2" x 10" lags. I ended up using the longer lags to allow for placing the inserts off the end by about 2". Anyway, I put it all together and I have to say, this is the most solid bed I think I have ever seen. Doesn't move an iota when rocked. So now I'm thinking of retrofitting the one I built a few years ago to be similar. Are lag bolts ideal? No, but they worked for this application. Thanks much for everyone who gave thier ideas. Cheers, cc
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