View Full Version : Sorta OT: Fixing a Wooden Bed

07-02-2011, 08:53 PM
I sleep on an oak sleigh bed which is roughly 100 years old and the other day the wooden lip which the slats for the box spring rest on, gave way, dumping me to the floor. In dismantling the bed I found that the wooden lip had broken in one spot, and that the glue holding it on had failed (the nails holding it on were still intact).

Times being what they are, I don't have the money to turn it over to a professional to repair the rail. I bought a pine strip which is slightly larger than the original to replace the lip that I removed. I've got it back together using nails, wood screws, and Gorilla Glue (just using nails wasn't enough I discovered :mad: ). Nobody can see my jerry rigged repairs, but I'm not entirely confident that they'll hold. I'd also like to be able to do something a little more professional looking so that if I ever decide to sell the bed I can get a decent price for it (not likely that I'll sell it or get a lot of money for it, of course).

At the moment, I don't have ready access to anything more than basic hand tools. I might be able to take it to work and use the Bridgeport they have there, but I don't know how they'd feel about me doing that. Any advice folks might have would be greatly appreciated.

Mike Burdick
07-02-2011, 09:06 PM

Would you mind posting a picture?


07-02-2011, 09:07 PM

Would you mind posting a picture?


Mike beat me to it. Yup, a picture would be very useful.

07-02-2011, 09:31 PM
How about trying some deck screws. Gary P. Hansen

07-02-2011, 09:36 PM
I'm not a big fan of gorilla glue, but no matter- what you did sounds fine, except I probably would have used an oak strip, or even maple. Screws, pre-drilled pilot and screw shank holes, mating surfaces brought to bare wood before gluing, and scrape out excess glue. This last step might be required if you're going to do any finishing on it.

07-02-2011, 09:36 PM

Would you mind posting a picture?

It'll be tomorrow before I can do it.

07-02-2011, 09:38 PM
How about trying some deck screws. Gary P. Hansen
The only ones I could find had torx heads on them and I'm religiously opposed to those.

J Weber
07-02-2011, 10:21 PM
Done repairs like this before. First off I would use a hardwood for the replacement part.I bet the original one was Ash or Poplar. A common secondary wood on old furniture.To re glue something you need to scrape off all the old glue.They used hot hide glue back then.New glue will not stick worth a dam to the old stuff.Yellow glue is my choice.Gorilla glue will work but the trick to using it is to wet the wood first.A damp rag is prefect.Dry wood glued with Gorilla will fail.The holes in the lip should be clearance sized.The bed rail holes a hair over root sized.#8 wood screws will be fine as the glue does most of the work

07-03-2011, 06:30 AM
Gorilla Glue is NOT! the thing to use to repair an antique! Anything you do to repair an antique should be reversible, which means using something like hide glue.

A picture would indeed help, but if I'm imagining this correctly, I would have done essentially what J Weber suggests: a hardwood strip, held by woodscrews and hide glue, after cleaning off ALL the old glue. Now that you have used Gorilla Glue, cleaning off the old glue is going to be even more of a pain than it might have been.

07-03-2011, 10:09 AM
SGW is absolutely correct. If your bed was built before 1911 then it is accepted as a genuine "antique." That was BEFORE you repaired it. Now it is just an old, repaired bed; very nice example, but NOT an antique.
According to MOST conservators, (that, by the way, is an expensive name for a furniture repair person,) repairs must follow original construction as closely as possible with regard to both materials and methods.
If you really care, then sometime you should undo your repair and redo it properly. That is remove the screws, nails, wood and all traces of Gorilla glue. Then get a piece of wood of the same species, (probably yellow poplar or something similar,) and a bottle of Titebond hide glue. If you can match the nails that were used, great. If not, dont use nails at all, (or screws;) use clamps. Even back in "the good old days" manufacturers did not have time for clamps, hence nails. It is difficult to understand that the nails ONLY clamped the pieces together until the glue dried. Liquid hide glue is NOT as strong as hot hide glue, nor does it set as fast, but it is FAR stronger than this job needs.
Now you have a "conserved antique." Possibly not quite to the "original" standard required by a museum buyer, but a dealer would find no fault.
I know whereof I speak. In the past, I converted many Canadian Pre-Confederation, (that is our magic timeline,) antiques into "repaired furniture," simply because I did not know what I was doing.
Too soon old-too late smart!:D

Black Forest
07-03-2011, 11:14 AM
First thing to do is go on a diet!!!!

Or post a picture of the woman in volved in the broken bed!!!!

I am interested in what a sleigh bed looks like. Please post a picture of the bed.

07-03-2011, 11:50 AM
Or post a picture of the womeninvolved:D

Mike Burdick
07-03-2011, 12:13 PM
My curiosity couldn't wait for tuckerfan's photo...

So here are one or two examples ;)


07-05-2011, 10:59 PM
Okay, finally got around to tearing the bed apart and taking the photos. I should mention that the original owner of the bed (my parents got it from his daughter in the 80s, she was about 60+ then, and her parents had had the bed for as long as she could remember) had cut down the headboard and turned it into the footboard, so there's no way to get the maximum value out of the bed, but I'd like to keep it from being worth more than firewood value.

Here's a shot of the bed with it slapped back together.


Here's a pic of the broken lip.


Here's my jerry rigged repair.


Its not easy to tell from the photo, but I couldn't run the screws all the way in because they're just too long, and the only other size I could find would have been too short to go through the piece of pine.

Its hard to make out in this pic, but the pine strip is sticking below the bed rail by about 1/4 of an inch.


I originally tried fixing it with just nails, but they broke (turns out that the nails were cast steel). I realize that my jerry rigged repair isn't great, but I needed something to hold it together until I can figure out how to do it right. Hopefully, the other side won't give way any time soon. If the original wood was hardwood then I'm going to have to find a source for that. The closest place to me is one of the big box home improvement stores and while they might be able to order it, given the fact that most of the employees I've interacted with have been little more than drooling idiots, I'm not hopeful that they could get the order right. (I was surprised that they were able to cut the piece of pine down to the length I needed without screwing it up.)

07-05-2011, 11:00 PM
And here's the person responsible for originally breaking the bed.


She hopped on to the bed to play with her cat. The kind with fur. And four legs, and the bed broke.

Joe Rogers
07-06-2011, 07:08 AM
I think it will be real tough to "undo" the Gorilla glue. It will probably outlive the other joints that have original glues. I'd plan on living with the repair.

Mike Burdick
07-06-2011, 02:23 PM
The repair looks good! You might consider, taping or tying the original part to underside of the bed for safe keeping. This way one will not lose the part, and if sold, the buyer can restore the bed if he feels the repair hurt the value.

07-06-2011, 07:06 PM
I think it will be real tough to "undo" the Gorilla glue. It will probably outlive the other joints that have original glues. I'd plan on living with the repair.

2nded. I would go further and say it is entirely possible you will cause more damage trying to undo it IF the Gorilla glue has in anyway fastened/held like it can.

IMO, with good glue (polyurethane is overkill) it should have worked with just the glue and even dowel/wooden pins (as opposed to nails or screws) provided it was all held in place tightly until the glue was dried/cured.