Adding the cap pieces and hardware

For those following the blog, I apologize in advance for the flurry of posts you’ll get notified about. I was in the zone on working on the bed, so the blog is catching up to the production.

I was a little intimidated when I was planning out the cap piece that was going to go on this head/footboard. At first blush, it sounds simple. Just glue the piece on and clamp it. While that would probably work just fine, there is a slight chance it could cause issues later. I have two kids, and kids love to hang on things. If they were to hang on the lip of it, the leverage might be enough to pop the glue. So, after seeking some advice on reddit, I settled on using glue and wooden dowels. The dowels would help provide some rigidity to the cap, while the glue does most of the work.

Start by cutting down some 6/4 lumber. I chose to go 4.5″ wide, so I would have a half inch overhang on the front and back of each board. I also decided to make it 83″ long, one inch longer than the width of my head/footboard. Again, it’s just for aesthetics.

I went and purchased this handy kit from Menards, though I’m sure you can find identical kits elsewhere. The goal was to drill two holes, centered on the cross beam, 9″ in on each side from the outside post. Then, on the cap piece, measure 10″ in on each side (9″ plus the 1″ overhang”) centered, and drill another hole. It’s VERY important that these holes be drilled square; if they’re angled at all, the dowels won’t set right. My hands aren’t that steady, especially with a power drill, so I bought this. If all goes well, the board should sit symmetrically.

Hole on cross piece.  I purposefully left some of the wood unstained so the glue could adhere properly
Hole on cap piece.  Note that I left some of the wood unstained for glue to adhere

Then, measure in about 26″ from each side, drill a hole, and insert the metal pointer piece pictured below. When you place the cap on the dowels in the first two holes, tap the cap down gently and the point on this will tell you where your last two dowels should go.

Once everything is laid out, add a generous amount of glue to all eight holes, press the dowels in, run a line of glue on the top of the board, and put everything in place. Use two ratchet straps to pull the cap down onto the board.

At this point, it’s time to add the hardware that will hold everything together. I decided to purchase two sets of these hardware kits from Rockler. This will allow us to disassemble the bed, and will also provide a strong connection for all the piece and make sure everything stays square. Yes, I know, they use screws. I really tried not to use screws! But this hardware is specifically made for this purpose, and we’re even doubling up the amount of hardware, so I think we’ll be OK. You’ll also need to purchase this to help attach the center support. On a king size bed, this is 100% necessary, otherwise the slats will sag far too much. I’m not sure on a queen or full size, but you could potentially avoid using that center support. I’ll tackle this in the next (and final!) post in the king bed series.

Start by taking the rail hardware, and attaching it to the siderails. I put a 1/8″ inset on the top bracket, just to ensure it wouldn’t be visible. Make sure when you line it up that you won’t be drilling through a dovetail.

Place the second one somewhere below it, above the bottom dovetail. Drill 1/8″ pilot holes, then secure the brackets using 1″ #8 wood screws. I used Spax brand for these, but I really like the Rockler ones as well. Spax can be found at Home Depot. Just don’t go cheap here.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love having both a drill/driver and an impact driver in my shop.  If you’re looking to get one, I recommend the kits.  I was able to have the drill setup with a drill bit, and the driver with a square bit.  I didn’t have to switch tools, and the impact driver set the screws really well.  I don’t get any sponsorship from anyone, so this is an unbiased recommendation, but I really like my Rigid set.

We know the top of the rails will be 20″ off the ground. Since the top bracket is set down 1/8″, we know that on the headboard and footboard the top bracket will need to be 19 7/8″ from the bottom of each post. The space between the posts on the boards is 74″ wide. A king bed is 76″ wide, so I decided to make the total width 77″ wide. That means we need to place the bracket on the posts so that the outside edge is 1.5″ off from the inside edge. See picture below.

Use the same method to screw in the bottom brackets to the posts. Where the brackets attached near a tenon, I used 1 1/4″ #8 screws. If there was no tenon and depth wasn’t an issue, I used 1 3/4″ screws.

Here’s what it looks like assembled, without the slats:

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