Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Oops, I Snapped the Bed!

It is with some slight discomfort that I must admit to having sat down on my bed (well my wife's actually, but what's hers is mine, yes?!) one evening last November to hear a loud cracking sound. I don't believe that I sat down particularly heavily on this occasion; in fact I had just put my youngest son in his cot and I was about to lay down next to him in order to try and encourage laying down as the generally positive action that it is, so I was trying to move fairly gently. Yet crack it did and up I very rapidly jumped!

Despite the gentle sitting and the rapid jumping, the damage had been done. Here it is from a few angles:

A broken bed

A broken bed

A broken bed

This happened in the evening, children were getting ready for bed and parents were already feeling tired. Clearly trying to sleep in this bed was not going to be a wise decision; an temporary plan was needed. We use the space under our bed as storage for all sorts of rarely used items and while our bedroom is large, it isn't quite large enough to keep this storage space and move our mattress elsewhere to solve the immediate problem of a suitable sleeping location.

We do have a "guest bedroom" (one side of my home office) which is fully equipped with a sofa bed. However it was (and still is actually) also fully equipped with a very large amount of "stuff". This stuff varies wildly in form and includes empty cardboard boxes awaiting a new use, old printers, computers, vacuum cleaners, irons, children's toys, a bouncy chair, a TV aerial (no, not connected - it should be in the loft and as it isn't, we haven't received any TV in over a year; but that's another story), several trees worth of paper and a number of things that I can't currently identify. Having read that list you can probably guess the problem - the sofa bed is unfortunately at the back of the room, behind (and under) the great horde of stuff. We weren't going to be sleeping in there.

The issues surrounding our guest bedroom aren't particularly new (although they do seem to be getting worse) and hence we have already created another guest solution - an inflatable mattress. We normally deploy this in our lounge in order to allow our guests a little privacy but for it to work on this occasion it would need to fit into our bedroom - so that Thomas remained in sleepy earshot. Thankfully our inflatable bed is much smaller than our normal bed and with some moving of furniture and stacking of things we managed to inflate it within our bedroom.

Problem solved.

But sleeping on an inflatable bed just isn't as comfortable. I felt sure I should be able to sort out a better temporary, one night solution. After all the bed hadn't completely snapped, it was just cracked a bit. If only I could find a way to support the wood around the crack then surely we could still use our normal, comfortable bed. I was right.

Bed hotfix 1

At this time we happened to be fairly well stocked with nappies and baby wipes - obviously the perfect bed repairing tools. It was a slight hack, a hotfix if you like, but it did work. In fact it worked so well that we left it there for several days, until I had a little more time at the weekend.

Bed hotfix 2

After those few days is was becoming clear that this solution wouldn't last for ever. Not only were we getting close to needing the components within the support but those components were also showing signs of depression, along with a small but somewhat worrying re-opening of the crack in the bed.

A new, better solution was clearly needed.

Soon after this had first happened Liz discussed it with he parents and her father suggested that we could use metal straps to hold the remaining wood together and hence repair the bed for continued use. This sounded like a fairly sensible idea so I took a trip to a local DIY shop and purchased the longest metal straps I could find (not actually very long though) and some suitable looking screws. I also took the chance to buy some wood glue (probably wouldn't hurt as an extra) and some varnish to coat and reseal the wood to avoid splinters.

I then spent most of a day rearranging the room, dismantling the bed, repairing it and then putting everything back again. The end result seemed pretty good. I'd glued and squished the crack back together, sanded off the rough outside bits where the wood had actually split and of course screwed several metal plates across the back of the broken wooden beam.

Bed strapped

With everything back in place and the bed made again, it was possible to (very gently) sit and lay down on the bed without there being any nappy based support underneath. The split in the wood did seem to strain ever so slightly under the pressure but everything held and looked strong.

The bed worked. We slept in it as normal for another week. When I say normal, during this time it did feel a bit different. I couldn't really say exactly what it was, perhaps just worry, or perhaps a very slight sloping.

By the next weekend it was clear that the bed was not fixed. The crack, while changing only very slightly each day, had now very definitely started to re-open. Strands of glue could be seen stretching and thinning between the wooden sides and manually supporting the beam provided a couple of millimetres of closure in the split.

A new solution was needed.

Supporting the broken beam from underneath had seemed to work pretty well even if nappies and wipes were not a good long term support material. This led me to the idea of making an extra bed leg. I had some 1.5" x 1.5" strips of wood in the garage that I thought might do the job a little better.

At this point I should perhaps explain that I'm really not a DIY or general physical maker person. I can picture how I'd like things to go, how they should turn out, in my minds eye. Yet trying to get my hands to actually produce a realistic representation of these mind images generally does not go according to plan. This isn't to say I can't DIY anything - I can build kits and things that use specific parts or building blocks - Lego, Meccano, computers, self-assembly furniture, hanging cupboards/hooks/curtains and replacing plumbing components are all fine. Physically sculpting, crafting and creating with artistic flair is however mostly beyond the talents of my hands.

So the new bed leg I had in mind would be practical rather than good looking. In fact, you can see the proof as this - here is the finished article holding up the bed.

Extra bed leg

You might now be thinking "that's just a block of wood, anyone could measure and cut that", and while you're probably correct about anyone being able to create it, there is a little more to it.

Extra bed leg 2

I did actually manage to get it to be roughly the right shape and most importantly the correct size; and on my first attempt too. Not only is the step the correct height to perfectly support both the outer and inner wooden beams of the bed but I also managed to get the overall height correct, including allowing for it sinking slightly into the carpet, so that it keeps the beam perfectly supported and nicely level.

Prior to fitting the third leg on this side of the bed, the beam at the point of the crack was approximately 3cm closer to the ground than it was at either end! That's with the metal straps in place. With the extra leg doing its job there is no difference in height at all. The bed has felt entirely normal again, no worrying about possible collapse and no strange sloping feeling. The new leg is still in place, is working well and hasn't had any issues with coming loose or moving out of place - the pressure from the bed has been sufficient to keep it in place. There have unfortunately been a couple of stubbed toes but I'm sure we'll get used to the extra leg being there eventually!

If you're still reading this you may be wondering why I bothered writing quite so much about a slightly broken bed. Well apart from it being a thrilling adventure from my recent life, for some reason the topic of the broken bed and how I had/should have repaired it was a persistent conversation with my father and father-in-law over Christmas; so I thought I'd document it all for them to help provide some reassurance that I hadn't done quite as bad a job as they both seemed to expect. Plus of course, I have to write something!



On March 9, 2019, 9:19 p.m. Laura said...

Simon, this is brilliant. No really.

I've just sat on my bed and heard an almighty crack and realised I've cracked the frame. After doing the same mental arithmetic of what the hell I do now because I am not equipped to fix the bed, I did what any normal person would do: I sured up the cracked bit with a stack of comics and then googled to find out how I fix the damn thing. And everything else seemed to suggested a proficiency in woodwork that I don't think anyone of my generation, aside from my cousins who are builders, actually possesses.

And then I landed on this blog post. Thank goodness. A normal person explaining in normal language what they did and what the best result was. I'm off to my local home improvement shop tomorrow, to look confused and buy some supplies.

So, thanks for bothering writing quite so much about a slightly broken bed, it's been really helpful.

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