Introduction: Bed Slats Improvement

About: Hello. I'm a freelance designer who makes a lot of different things for fun.

Recently I saw a guy building a bed at our maker space, and I liked his method of distributing bed slats using a rail with slat insets (see drawing).

My bed at home has a much worse design, which is a strip of fabric stapled to each slat. This method is not stable (they move) and the slats get tangled easily when trying to move them. You can see my photo of how uneven they get!

I was inspired to build perfectly sized spacers and glue them in position. I noticed an improvement immediately upon laying on the mattress, so if you have a similar bed, please follow along.

Step 1: Measurements and Math

You are going to make spacers to put in between every slat on the bed. Before you can cut anything, you need to measure the bed and a little math.

Measure the cleats (the support inside your bed rails that the slats sit on):

  1. How long is it?
  2. How wide is it?

Measure the slats:

  1. How wide are they?
  2. How deep are they?
  3. How many are there?

In my case, the cleats are 73¾" long (L) and about 1" wide.

My slats are 3¼" wide (W), and 5/8" deep, and there are 14 of them.

Now, figure out your total negative space (N) -- the space between the slats. That's the cleat length (L) minus the number of slats (S) times the slat width (W):

N = L - S*W.

(for me, N = 42¾")

The number of spacers on one side will be the number of slats minus one. So, the spacer length should be the negative space divided by the number of slats minus one, or N / (S-1).

For me, that worked out to 3¼".

You'll need spacers for both sides, so (S-1)*2, of them. For me, that's 26.

In summary, I will need 26 spacers 3¼" long, 5/8" high and 1" wide. How about you?

Step 2: Chop Chop!

Now the boring part is over. It's time to hit the woodshop!

Recall I need 26 spacers 3¼" long, 5/8" high and 1" wide. I found some cedar boards that are 5/8" thick, so that's one measurement taken care of.

I then ran them through a table saw to get lengths that are 3¼" wide. So finally, I can make my repetitive cuts at the chop saw, making 1" thick wood spacers. Measure your first cut, then clamp a wood stop to the end, and you can quickly do the rest.

Once you have your spacers, take them to your sanding station and give them all a good sanding, removing any rough edges. This will also help the slats fit in easily.

Step 3: Get Glueing

Remove the fabric strips and staples as needed.

Get your preferred wood glue. For this project, Gorilla glue is great because of the short open time. Once my eighth clamp was in place, my first clamp was ready to use again.

Place your first slat in place, then the first space beside it. Then place your next slat and alternate until everything is spaced out perfectly. Once you're satisfied, begin gluing. Lift up the first spacer, glue the bottom (spread it evenly), and clamp it in place. Continue gluing until all your clamps are busy. If you need to let the first batch dry, come back and continue later.

Once your glue is set, throw your mattress back on the bed and enjoy!

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