This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
A simple yet comfortable trestle bedstead is shown in Fig. 590, which is an end view looking at the head. The frame consists in the main of 2 lengths of deal a, about 3 in. by 2 1/2 in., planed off to the sectional shape indicated in the figure, into which are mortised 3 sets of cross legs b, formed of hard wood 2 in. sq., with the feet cut sloping as at c, and joined at the centre by a bolt and nut d. To allow for the legs crossing each other, it is obvious that the mortices in the rails a for receiving the ends of the legs b must not be opposite each other, but exactly the width of the leg apart. The pairs of legs are situated one at each end and one in the middle. Throughout the whole length of the bedstead, coarse sacking e is strained tightly across from one rail to the other, and brought round the corner, where it is securely nailed. This sacking prevents the legs opening too wide, and forms the support of the bed and its occupant. An additional solidity and finish is given by attaching a head-board f, on which are screwed 2 strips of iron g brought to a pin form at their free ends, and dropping into holes bored for them in the rails a. By removing the head-board f, the bedstead may be shut up so as to occupy very little space.
A foot-board may be added in the same way, and will further strengthen the structure.
Equally simple in constructive detail, only requiring more wood, is the ordinary 4-post bedstead. As to material, almost any wood but deal is suitable, e. g. beech, birch, ash, mahogany. The joints are all simple mortices and tenons, with the addition of a special feature in the shape of a bed-screw. Dimensions vary with requirements; 6 ft. long by 5 ft. wide to 5 1/2 ft. by 4 1/2 ft. forms a "double" size; 5 1/2 to 6 ft. by 3 1/2 ft. is a " single " size; and cots are made smaller for children. The section of the frame timber may run from 4 1/2 in. by 2 1/2 in. to 3 1/2 in. by 2 in., according to the size of the bedstead. These measurements refer to the rough timber, and are reduced considerably by the planing down and perhaps turning. The legs may be 3 1/2 in. sq. in the rough. Their length will depend upon whether there is to be a foot-board, head-board, tester, or other addition to the frame. The height of the frame above the floor varies from 12 to 18 in., and the posts should in any case stand up some 12 or 18 in. above the frame, both to enclose the bedding and to afford sufficient material for the mortices which have to support the frame.
When the legs are of minimum length they need only be planed smooth and square, and covered with a piece of chintz or other material, corresponding with that which is hung around the sides and ends to fill up the space between the frame and the floor; but when the legs are prolonged upwards to support head-board and foot-board, it is almost imperative to turn those portions which intervene between the mortices, or the appearance is very mean. The plan of the bedstead having been decided on, the 4 pieces for the legs and the other 4 pieces for the frame are planed up smooth and square. On the sides of the legs are marked where the mortices have to be cut for the reception of the ends of the frame, remembering that in each case there will be 2 contiguous sides of the leg to be mortised. Before proceeding to cut the mortices, which need only be 3/4 in. deep, it is essential to mark the spot where a hole is to be bored for the insertion of the bed-screw.
Now, each post contains 2 mortices, as at a, Fig. 591, and a screw has to be inserted through the back (not side) of the mortice and into the end (not side) of the tenon; consequently the hole for the screw must be exactly in the centre of the post so far as its width is concerned, and this is ascertained by drawing diagonal lines, the centre being their point of junction, as at o. But as there are to be 2 screws inserted in the post, one b for the mortice which is hidden in the cut, and another for the mortice a, these holes must not be on the same level, or they would cross each other in the middle of the post - one must be at least 1 in. higher than the other. To ensure these holes being bored quite straight, it is well to mark opposite sides of the post, and bore half-way from each side. The size of the holes should be such as just to admit with ease the bed-screws available for the job, several sizes being made. At the outer surface of the hole a recess is cut to allow the head of the bed-screw to drop in out of the way. When the holes are completed, the mortices may be cut; and after this the legs may be turned according to any desired pattern, so long as the portions carrying the mortices are not interfered with.
Next the tenons are cut on the ends of the frame-pieces and fitted into their respective mortices. Whilst in this position, each hole which has been bored in the posts is continued into the end of the frame-piece corresponding to it, as seen by the dotted line c, the hole being carried a little deeper than the full length of the bed-screw when its head is recessed. The holes will be alternately a little above and a little below the centre of the tenon, to admit of the screws crossing each other, and not in the exact centre. When a hole is finished, a notch is cut into the side of the frame-piece, as at d, with a sharp chisel, just large enough to receive comfortably the nut of the bed-screw, which must lie so that it is central with regard to the hole for admitting the bed-screw. The nut is made quite tight, so that it shall not revolve when the screw turns in it, by wedging in a little slip of wood, previously glued. When all these preparations have been completed, the bedstead is put together by inserting the tenons on the frame-pieces into the mortices in the legs, and screwing all up tight and firm by the bed-screws. If there is to be a foot-board, it is recessed a little into the legs, and a rail is then generally added above it to connect the tops of the legs.
The head legs may also be of a height (5 or 6 ft.) to carry a canopy, the frame of which is mortised into the legs and further supported by angle irons. The recessed ends of the bed-screws are covered by little turned wooden cups made for the purpose.