Woodworking is more brains than brawn

A couple contacted me about fixing their king-size bed. It seems the bed rails were broken. Now I won’t tell you all the thoughts that went through my mind concerning how the bed rails got broken.

I arrived on a Saturday morning to greet a very nice, middle-aged couple. They showed me to their bedroom where the bedrails sat in pieces on the floor. They explained that they were rearranging their room and sliding the bed around on the wood floor. As you can imagine, the stress on the ends of the bed rails was too much and they split. As I examined the broken rails, I noticed a label on one that warned against moving the bed while assembled. Now, if the bed were assembled (complete with box springs, mattress, and coverings) you wouldn’t be able to see this label. Brilliance on the part of the manufacturer.

This was a rather nice bed, too. A sleigh bed that appeared to be made by a well-known manufacturer. As I examined the cause of failure, I quickly realized that the bed rails were constructed of laminated plywood and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) with a veneer covering. What a disappointment for a woodworker that a popular manufacturer would take shortcuts like that.

I brought the bed rails to my home shop and pondered on the best way to rebuild them. They use the traditional bed hooks like the ones shown here:

Bed Rail Hooks Bed Rail Hooks
Set comes complete with four hook plates and 16 pins for holding them in place…
Bed Rail Hooks

They require a slot about 1-1/4″ deep to accomodate the hooks. How could I create that slot on the ends of stock 74″ long and do it safely? After a couple of days thought, I came up with a solution. I laminated 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood between two layers of 1/2″-thick poplar. This resulted in a slot about the proper width for the hooks.

To install the hooks, I needed to drill two stopped holes for the steel pins. For this task, I made a drilling guide to properly reference the holes from the corner of the rail. With the holes drilled, it was a fairly easy job to tap the pins in place to secure the bed hooks.

Sometimes the best tool I have is the time to think about the best and easiest solution.

Happy woodworking,