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For strength, hardwood is far preferable to softwood. Most big box stores have pieces of oak, often in the stair parts section. If nothing else is available, poplar would be preferable to softwood such as pine, fir or spruce. You are right that you need to predrill to avoid splits.


1

Bed joist seem to not suit to the job here. Different kind of structure work. Your vertical element here works now as cantilever, while in former role (as a ladder as I suppose) it was supported as a continous beam, which part was hanging up (if Your bed is upper one) or was to be tied as end of that ladder (if Your bed was lower one). Similiar tensions, ...



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