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Bed Rail Fasteners in Plywood?

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Forum topic by jcox posted 02-19-2014 02:06 AM 2101 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jcox

17 posts in 1710 days


02-19-2014 02:06 AM

I am building a king-size platform bed with a frame that is essentially three seamless columns (not sure if that is the right word considering that they will run horizontally, and not vertically, but hopefully you all get the picture) that will join to a headboard. My plan is to miter cut walnut-veneered plywood, glue them up into the columns with 2×2 screwed/glued to the inside of the joint for strength, and then attach the side columns to the front column and head board with bed rail fasteners such as those found here: http://www.rockler.com/heavy-duty-wrought-steel-bed-rail-fasteners-4-pack-select-size

I would like to use this type of bed rail fastener to keep the hardware hidden and also allow the bed to be easily taken apart, but I do not see anything in the reviews or instructions for their use about installation in plywood as opposed to solid lumber. The hooks at least would be mortised and installed into the end-grain of plywood – does anyone know if using plywood would affect the strength of the frame or make it more likely that the fasteners would tear out of the frame under great weight (e.g., me stepping on it directly when getting into bed)?

I know it’s kind of a random question, but I’d appreciate any insight anyone might have. Thanks!


10 replies so far

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jcox

17 posts in 1710 days


#1 posted 02-19-2014 02:29 AM

To clarify a bit, the bed will have legs at the corners, so the frame will be suspended in the air except for the legs. The plan is also to build this around a basic metal bed frame that will hold the slats and mattress (and is already in place in our bedroom…I assured my wife two years ago when we bought the mattress that I would build a bed for it soon)...the fact that the side portions of the frame will be suspended in air is what has me worried…any thoughts?

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Grandpa

3256 posts in 2135 days


#2 posted 02-19-2014 03:39 AM

I personal don’t like the idea of plywood for the rails. I think you will find they will splinter on the top edges. I just think there will be splinters in your legs in the future. That might just be my hang up but so be it. I would be for using a solid lumber for the rails and maybe using a veneer on them. I have taken some bolt together beds apart and they are a chore but how often do you intend to do that? Another thing, if you haven’t thought about it, is a king size bed has a leg or nor in the middle. Mine has 2 sets of box springs in the system. My metal frame has one foot in the middle but my daughters bought headboard has about 5 legs in the slats. I recently moved her bed and some of the legs were really leaning so I am not sure that is a good system for long term use. I read the reviews on the rail locking system from Rockler. Some came without screws. Don’t know if they all come that way or not. I would want to use some good screws in those locking systems. I guess I am think I might put an extra leg at the top and bottom in my king bed then put an extra rail down the center. I could be doug fir I suppose. I just think I would want something to really thread right to hold the screws for those ends or locking systems.

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Nicky

695 posts in 3551 days


#3 posted 02-19-2014 03:58 AM

+1 for grandpa.

I don’t think it would last a week. If I read your post correctly the reinforcement only helps with the stresses side-to-side. A box spring, mattress plus occupants will exert a great deal of force in a downward direction. They would easily break through the plywood.

-- Nicky

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jcox

17 posts in 1710 days


#4 posted 02-19-2014 04:17 AM

I am attaching an image of a bed somewhat similar to what i am trying to do. The framing will be about the same width on top, but will be longer on the vertical panels…I believe I have it at six inches for the tops, 9 inches for the height of columns, and approx. three inch high legs that will be stainless steel blocks. The rear headboard will be very different than what is in this picture due to a variety of lights, electrical sockets, and shelves that will be intergrated into the headboard and the side tables, but perhaps the picture provides better perspective of what I am going for.

With the way I am building it, it will literallly slide around our bed (which sits on an unattached metal frame with slats), so the bed itself will not be putting pressure on the frame. This should make the issue of additional legs beneath the center of the bed moot, as those legs are already in place in the frame/slats we currently have, and will not be affecting the load placed on the platform bed frame. However, I have a one year old, a dog, and my wife and I all of whom I expect will be using the platform bed as a step and/or play space, so would like to make sure it is solid. If plywood is not strong enough, is there any problem mitering together plywood and walnut lumber into the columns, with the lumber being used to mount the bed fastener rails? Not sure if plywood and hardwood joined into a column/box would encounter problems with the wood moving differently from each other? I’d really prefer to use plywood where I can, if only because my jointer/planer is out of commission while I get rollers recovered, and I imagine getting walnut stock in identical widths and similar color might be difficult (plus more expensive!)

Thanks again for your thoughts so far, looking forward to any other advice!

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tool_junkie

293 posts in 1989 days


#5 posted 02-19-2014 05:50 AM

jcox,

Not long ago, I was (and still am) pondering upon the same question in my head. When time permits, I also want to build a King size platform bed similar to the picture you posted. I was also thinking of making columns out of 3/4” ply using lock miter joints and further reinforcing them from the inside of the column. For me the primary reason for taking this route is to make it lighter and cheaper than it would be if made with solid wood. As far as attaching the rails to the foot and headboards go, I have been thinking about doing what they show in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=h_6v1hZUM9s

I would also appreciate if people with more experience can weigh in on the pros and cons of this approach.

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woodman88

127 posts in 2108 days


#6 posted 02-19-2014 01:02 PM

I am with Grandpa I wouldn’t even think about using plywood. It will not hold up.Solid wood is the way to go.

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tool_junkie

293 posts in 1989 days


#7 posted 02-19-2014 03:14 PM

Even if the rails (or columns as referred to in the OP) are made like a torsion box, they wouldn’t hold up?

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jcox

17 posts in 1710 days


#8 posted 02-19-2014 03:56 PM

Tool-junkie – that’s an interesting way to put the sides together, I wonder if the internal braces (on which the foundation lies) are necessary to maintain the structural integrity/shape of the frame? they wouldn’t work with my plan to use a metal bed frame inside of wood frame, but perhaps I should reconsider that aspect of the design.

On strength of the frame, I am somewhat confused. My concern was whether the bed rail fasteners would tear out of the ends of plywood more easily than solid wood, but it sounds like people think the entire rail/columns themselves would fail if made out of plywood and not solid boards? I could see that if it was just going to be a single piece of wood being used as a rail, but I’m not sure I understand why a mitered box/column would be significantly weaker due to being made out of plywood rather than boards. I hadn’t even considered that strength of that box/column would be an issue.

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tool_junkie

293 posts in 1989 days


#9 posted 02-19-2014 04:18 PM

jocox,

If I understood your post correctly, the weight of the mattress would be resting on metal frame with slats on it. The wooden part is just a faux frame to hide the metal frame and no significant weight will be put on it, correct?

In my mind, either way whether you put weight on it or not, torsion box style rails made out of ply wood should be able to hold the weight. Mind you, this is just my theory, and I welcome anyone who can correct me on this.

As far as attaching the rails to the foot and headboard, I am not sure why using solid wood would have any advantage over plywood. But I think if you use ply wood, you would have to beef up the area behind the fastener with at least another layer of ply; because the fastener would need to be put in a 9/64” deep mortise. And we all know the 3/4” ply is actually thinner than 3/4”.

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Grandpa

3256 posts in 2135 days


#10 posted 02-19-2014 07:29 PM

If I understand you and after looking at the added photo, the bed rests on the metal frame and the wood head board, footboard and rail will only support themselves and whatever steps on them. I still don’t think the rails would support me even if you used 2 pieces of plywood and glued them together. Plywood is strong but it also flexes more than solid wood because half the grain is turned cross with only half the grain running the length of the rail. This is approximately half. Plywood does have “grain” and the grain is the same as the surface layer of veneer. Do you plan to support he floating frame and rails with the slats across the metal frame supporting the wood frame also? That would add some strength.

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