Could I make rails flush to legs on a bed?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by mr_b_pfister posted 07-07-2014 06:43 PM 1116 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mr_b_pfister's profile


6 posts in 1653 days

07-07-2014 06:43 PM

Hi all,

I’ve been lurking for a bit and finally am jumping in the pool. Thanks for all the great info I’ve found by searching the forums. I have a question:

I am building a bed (king). I am using sleek lines with curves and plan to have the front rails flush with face of the legs. Ideally I would like to also have the detachable side rails flush to the face of the legs as well. I cannot find an example of this anywhere, so I am wondering if there are structural considerations that make this idea a no go. I realize it would mean putting a mortise close to the edge of the leg, so I have considered moving the tennon to the back of rail, leaving more material toward the outside of the leg. Doing that raises the possibility of racking toward the inside of the frame, due to no or little shoulder on the inside edge of the tenon. Perhaps a glue block on the inside edge would stabilize it enough? Anybody got any thoughts? Go ahead and shoot it down if I’m off my rocker.


10 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1227 posts in 3083 days

#1 posted 07-07-2014 06:59 PM

Use a bed rail hanger that will offset like this,
search bed rail hanger at Amazon for these, you’ll get your design and be able to KD it.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30126 posts in 2572 days

#2 posted 07-07-2014 07:05 PM

We’re all off our rockers, that’s why we are here.

since there’s no industry standard, you can literally find 100 of fastening systems. A lot of times I search some place like Amazon to see a wide variety of choices. Then pick what does the job for me.

Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2344 days

#3 posted 07-07-2014 07:17 PM

I think a bare faced tenon on the inside would be fine with bed bolts, as would the bed rail connectors above.

I just delivered a Queen bed last week that used these:,43715,43730&ap=1 They’re a bit harder to install than some, but I like these because they can be installed to tighten a bit as weight sits on them, are invisible when the bed is assembled, and I don’t have to cut a tenon on a heavy 80” long board.

I don’t think you need the glue blocks with a bolted M&T, as you’ll have plenty of surface in the shoulder to post face M&T interface. The bed bolts would pull the shoulder firmly against the post through the front.

With a mortised metal connector, you can use the entire end face of the rail to prevent racking in the plane parallel to the side view of the headboard and footboard. I don’t see much top-view corner to corner racking, as the stresses don’t really go that way.

With a king or queen, I would add a few feet at the center of the hidden rails underneath. as all kings and many queens use two-piece box springs. These extra contact points also help eliminate racking or sway.

If you’ve got any high-end furniture stores nearby, go take a look at the various assembly methods. Since beds need to break down, higher-end factory stuff isn’t much different than you might want to do.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2603 days

#4 posted 07-07-2014 07:19 PM

I just finished a bed, albeit a twin. I think you’d be fine with a smaller shoulder on the back and a little bit bigger on the front. I think my front/rear rails had 1/8” shoulders. They each had 2 drawbores which pulled things in tight, and I don’t suspect they will have any issues with racking. You don’t say what your rail thickness is or what wood you’re using, but assuming 4/4, I would think if you left 1/4” on the front and 1/8 or so on the back, you’d be fine. I do feel like the drawboring really helped out in this application.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1914 days

#5 posted 07-07-2014 07:23 PM

If you make the rails thick enough I don’t see a issue even with though tenons. Look at some of the workbench builds as they tend to have the rails flush with the front face to create a reference clamping surface and they are very strong. You can also do offset shoulders where for instance it’s 1/2” on one side and 1/4” on the other to give you a little more thickness for your tenon’s.

View mr_b_pfister's profile


6 posts in 1653 days

#6 posted 07-08-2014 01:08 AM

Awesome. Thanks for the replies, guys. I’m not sure how much difference it will make, but I did not mention that the wood is walnut. I’ll tell you the story on the lumber so you can immediately learn to hate me now that I’ve introduced myself. I was driving through the local industrial park and noticed a sign that said Tag Sale. Who would have a tag sale in an industrial park, I wondered. Turned out it was an architectural millwork place that sells of its excess lumber once a year. I’m not exactly flush with cash, but I couldn’t walk away from an entire pallet of walnut for $100. I got 210 board feet, all in 8/4, 8 foot long boards. So, now I’m making a bed. At 8/4 I’m guessing I should have no problem making the rails thick enough.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2603 days

#7 posted 07-08-2014 12:36 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks. We all hate you.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1433 posts in 1964 days

#8 posted 07-08-2014 01:26 PM

Mr. B, hate is not good, but in this case, yep….... Welcome…...... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View bandit571's profile


21968 posts in 2917 days

#9 posted 07-08-2014 02:04 PM

I just finished tearing down a bed frame for the salvagable wood parts. fasteners are the steel plate with hooks. plate slips into a slot with two steel “pins” inside. How close to the out side of the bedpost you put these is up to you. IF you want the plates and can supply 8 pins ( about a 3/16” or so, some use 16penny spikes cut to length) let me kown, before I recycle them…in the trash can.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View mr_b_pfister's profile


6 posts in 1653 days

#10 posted 07-08-2014 06:41 PM

Thanks for the offer on the hardware, but I’m set on the mortise and tenon, I think. As far the the deal I got on the lumber, I have been on cloud nine, can’t believe my luck. I think it’s a sign. Hopefully I can do the wood justice.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics