Slightly O.T. but still within the realm of a home...
We have an old four poster bed that wiggles a lot. It appears that
where the side rails fit into the posts (metal hooks that hang over
steel pins in the post slot) it has become sloppy over time.
I thought I saw a long time ago that there are shims or metal springs
that can be wedged into the slots to help squeeze the hooks when
If anyone is aware please advise as best you can. Also, if anyone has
any ideas, other than carpenter's glue, please share because I cannot
be the only one with this situation?
I will be eagerly awaiting all answers. Thanks
I stole this without permission from:
"Bed shims comprise a plurality of bed shim units including flexible
front and rear plates and a rigid central plate, the plates being
secured together, the rear plate having a flat surface including a
peel-off adhesive backing, each bed shim unit includes two circular
holes extending therethrough, two parallel longitudinal perforations
extending between the circular holes of each bed shim unit, the
parallel longitudinal perforations defining a generally rectangular
area between the circular holes, the generally rectangular area of
each bed shim unit adapted to be punched out to define a generally
oval shaped hole extending therethrough."
In English, I think they are suggesting nothing more than a shim that
is shaped similiar to the end of the bed rail with slots cut for the
hooks. You would essentially be extending the bedrails, but not the
hooks, so that the hooks grab tighter and there is no gap or play.
Buy using some type of hard foam/flexible material, you would be able
to compress the shims somewhat for a tight fit. In addition, a
flexible material would eliminate any squeaks caused by wood-on-wood
contact should the bed start rocking back and forth for any reason.
The shim material should be as hard as the wood. There's a lot of
force being applied on a small area. Think of the leverage of a bed
post being resisted by a force applied to the end of a bed rail.
As the patent, and common sense, would suggest, a U-shaped shim that
was slid down over the pins/hooks from above would be necessary so
that the shim would stay in place. The thickness of the shim will not
be that great - probably on the order of 1/16".
I would disassemble the bed and inspect each of the connections to
make sure that something hasn't given way. Examine the hooks and pins
for wear. Tighten anything that can be tightened. Reassemble the bed
and cut some plastic U-shaped shims of different thicknesses. A
single shim of the correct thickness, instead of several built up to
that thickness, is more likely to provide satisfaction.
The plastic should be tough material, not brittle so you can cut it
more easily, and hard enough that a fingernail pressed into it with
force doesn't leave an impression.
Upon further reflection, the U-shaped shim is not as good as a
rectangular piece with a hole cut out. I was thinking of wedging the
U-shaped shim into place after the bed is assembled, but the hooks
will do the wedging as they slide down over the pins under load. The
shim thickness is also less critical that way, plus the shims will be
a lot easier to install.
I see that you changed your thoughts on the U-shaped shim, but I am
curious about something.
You said "As the patent, and common sense, would suggest, a U-shaped
Where in the patent do you see a suggestion for a U-shaped shim?
Even the picture at the site shows a rectangle.
Again, just curious...
I did it again! I just clicked on that patent picture link and that's
for a bed with bed bolts. With that setup you could use a U-shaped
shim just as easily - more easily as you wouldn't have to disassemble
the bed, but the rectangular with a slot is still better for the OP's
Armstrong is doing pretty well for an old guy in the Giro, but Menchov
is just too strong, and Di Luca is on a mission. In case anyone is
I put 6 cinder block bricks under the box spring. 3 on each side and 3 along
So the box spring is firmly supported and the head/foot boards are just
sitting around this - not supporting anything.
The cinder blocks are spaced out and this leaves little "compartments"
between the bricks under the bed. My dog loves this to go hide under there
and peek her nose out an opening (to keep an eye on me to see if I am going
toward the refrigerator or any source of food...)
Metal tends not to wear over time, but wood does. You'll have to
inspect the bed closely to see what your root cuase is. From your
description, you have one of a few possible situations:
1) the metal hooks or the pins have become loose, creating play
Solution: replace the hardware: if it is a screw that's loose, use a
longer/wider screw. If the pins are loose, try using larger diameter
pins (redrilling is necessary). If neither work, remove the hooks and
pins, go to your local big orange store, and buy some new hardware.
Solution 2: drill shank holes in the post, and guide holes in the
rail, and attach the rail using really long screws. This is not
ideal, as you will have play again in 5 or 6 years.
2) the wood where the bed post meets the rail is worn
If this is the case, it's due to a not-so great design of the bed.
Completely replacing the hardware is a good idea again. You can also
try to resquare the wood, and attach a piece of aluminum to replace
the thickness lost due to the cut (only if you have a tablesaw or RAS
saw -- I don't recomend this otherwise!).
Check out this for an idea for hardware:
re : If neither work, remove the hooks and pins, go to your local big
orange store, and buy some new hardware
Does your local big orange store carry bed hardware? I don't think
I searched for bed hardware on their website and got a whole bunch of
door knobs and a few pick-up truck tool boxes.
I would also avoid surface mounted bed fasteners such as the ones at
the Lee Valley site.
I've built all of the beds in my house (2 sets of bunks, standard and
L-shaped, and a queen size bed) I've tried various types of surface
mount bed fasteners and have never been happy over the long term.
They're really easy to install, but they just don't hold as tight.
I eventually replaced all of the fasteners with these and haven't had
a problem since:
Yes, I had to rout out the recesses, but now that they're installed,
it takes a rubber mallet to assemble/dis-assemble the bed. Once I made
the jigs for the rails and end-boards, the routing took a matter of
I have an old four-poster that has slats across from frame to frame to
hold the spring and mattress. Seems to me that if you have the same
set-up, cutting some new boards that fit tightly would solve the problem.
How would the bed slats under the mattress stop the bed from rocking
back and forth?
You could screw a sheet of plywood to the rails with a thousand screws
but if the connection between the rails and head/foot boards is loose,
the bed is going to wiggle.
He's implying that this would put enough sideways stress on the hooks to
take up the slop.
We're all just guessing here, without pictures. OP described it clearly
enough, but the words may mean different things to him than they do to
us. Unless bed is an heirloom/valuable antique, this falls in the
blacksmithing category. Take the mattress and box spring off, stare at
it awhile, and see what isn't fitting tightly, and find some way to
fine-tune reality. Depending on if the wood side rails showed or not,
I'd be inclined to graft the headboard and footboard onto a modern
bedframe. If the side rails were part of the design, I'd find some way
to graft some big L brackets in there to make tight solid corners. If it
is like the hook-into-slot(with pin) bed frames I have dealt with,
adding a metal or wood shim to the contact points would likely fix it,
at least for awhile.
This is what the OP has:
Assuming the wood isn't split and the pins are still tight in their
holes, shimming the end of the rails is by far the easiest thing to
I apologize for not being more specific in my earlier responses, but
it was a very interesting day at the Giro d'Italia.
Lots of answers (and some fun). My take is it is loose so there's wiggle
room 'side to side' where the hook goes into the post slot. I'm assuming
that there is no other problem from your post.
Grin, get a box of toothpicks and fill the excess on the inner side so it
doesnt show, until they are tight.
Yeah I know, the guys want you to replace the hardware and that's probably
more 'elegant' but if your bed is like my old queensized one with that
problem, I fixed it with 50cents worth of toothpicks.
Hehehe just had to have a little fun with all the guys here and in fact,
that solution *did* work for us on a side to side 'shimmy' that made noise
when hubby and I were doing 'adult stuff' and the noise was making the
'kidlit' want to investigate...
Really, it worked.
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