Beds are large cumbersome furnishing and since the beginning have been constructed with "Some assembly required" as a given. A typical bed breaks down at minimum into headboard, footboard and bed rails. A variety of fittings are available to join these parts together, some are more satisfactory than others.
Bed bolts are usually 6" or 7" long bolts 3/8" diameter with a square drive head and integral washer. They are supplied with a square or rectangular nut. This type of bed fastener was common through the 18th furniture periods and no other connection has yet improved upon it for solidity and durability. The bolt is drilled through the bed post and continues on into the end of the bed rail to a point where it engages with the nut. The nut is held captive in a mortise cut into the inside face of the bed rail. The head of the bolt is usually recessed below the face of the bedpost into a counterbore. To disguise this structural device a decorative cover is screwed in place over the bolt head. To prevent the bed rail from rotating it's end should be set into a shallow mortise in the post or the bed bolt should be partnered with a dowel pin as shown in the illustration.
Most older bed bolts use a 14 thread per inch pitch whereas modern convention tends to 16 threads per inch. Our bolts use a 3/8" square head and we supply suitable wrenches.
Because bed bolts can always be tightened this system provides for the best long term attachment of bed components. The same characteristic makes bed bolts the best way to assemble workbenches.
Relevant HardwareBed Bolt Covers
Bed fasteners of the type shown above are a solid and unobtrusive alternative to the bed bolt. These cast iron interlocking parts wedge together with satisfying effect. The female part is mortised into the bed post while the male part attaches to the inside of the bed rail. Once installed these parts are out of sight and, if fitted properly, out of mind.
Some points to consider if you are planning to use this kind of fitting:
The female part should be offset to the inside of the bed post as the inside face of the bed rail will end up around 1/2" to the outboard of its center line. The female part is securely held in its mortise by three large screws under tension, the male part is simply face mounted by two screws whose length is limited by the thickness of the bed rail and are also under sheer stress. This is the weak point of these fittings and is addressed to some extent by a flange cast into the back of the part behind the screw line, when fitted against the bed rail this flange adds some resistance to movement. A thicker bed rail will allow the use of longer screws.