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I have a wooden bed frame, for which one of the sides is very slightly bent out (as shown in the picture). I would like to get it straightened because the slight bending out means that the slats that support the mattress on that side aren't held in place as firmly, so occasionally fall out. The bed is about 7 years old and unfortunately the shop that sold me the bed has gone bust in the meantime - so I don't think there's any reasonable chance of getting a replacement.

Is there any reasonable way to fix this? I don't know that much about DIY, but wood doesn't seem like a good material for simply bending back into shape.

(NB. Picture shows the bottom corner of the bed at the front of the picture not fully in place, with a gap showing. Don't worry about this - the bed was disassembled for room redecoration and I haven't yet fully reassembled it, hence the gap)

Picture of the bent frame I'm asking about

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    you need to fix that corner before bending; it seems to contribute more to short slats than the bend itself.
    – dandavis
    May 18 at 21:46
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For a slight bend (warp) like that you can try setting the board on blocks at its ends and weighting the middle. Overcompensate somewhat (weight to the point that it bends slightly the other way. Heat may help, but should be moderate and dry for a finished furniture piece - this is not something to attempt steam-bending on. But if you have a hot attic you can do it in, that's perfect. Let it sit for a few days that way.

Alternatively, if the holes in the slat rail are not engaged by pegs on the slats (which would, of themselves, serve to pull the sides together and keep slats from dislodging) it might be simplest to run wire, strong string or small rope between the sides at several holes in the middle to pull this side in towards the other one.

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    Yeah, test the weight - it may take quite a bit. Your note about the slats implies that they only go to the centre rail, not all the way across - could you attach a few from opposite sides to each other to have them be what holds the sides in?
    – Ecnerwal
    May 18 at 22:30
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    Those holes are very suspicious: my first thought is that the person who originally assembled the bed threw some bits away because they didn't appear to be needed. May 19 at 7:41
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    Agree with @Mark Morgan Lloyd about the holes in the slat support. Surely there to connect the ends of the slats to the side rails. Do the existing slats have holes in their ends? The slats must be restrained somehow or gaps would develop. May 19 at 10:44
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    If it warped once like this, it will inevitably warp out again later. Just bending it back thus doesn't help much. You absolutely need to tie the sides together.
    – TooTea
    May 20 at 8:19
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    Wire? Why not just fasten down a couple of slats to the frame.
    – Kaz
    May 20 at 17:49
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A pair of screen door turnbuckles would work well. Mount them from below with stout screws piloted into the wooden rails, one from the headboard and one from the footboard at 45° angles. Start with them just threaded in a few turns, then you can tighten to straighten the side rail.

The centerboard should keep the head and foot boards from bending.

enter image description here

_____________________________________________ _
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  ^-- headboard         ⟍                    | |
                          ⟍                  | |
                            ⟍                | |
                              ⟍              | |<-- sideboard
                                ⟍            | |
                                  ⟍          | |
                                    ⟍        | |
                                      ⟍      | |
                                        ⟍    | |
                                          ⟍  | |
                                            ⟍| |
                                             | |
                                             | |
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    A friend of mine has a bed frame with an almost identical design and this is how they solved this exact problem. Attaching the turnbuckle at a 45-degree angle meant one end was near the center of the headboard and the other was around 1/3 of the way down the sideboard, which distributes the load well and keeps everything nice and square.
    – bta
    May 20 at 18:03
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As @Ecnerwal says in the 2nd part of their answer -

Tie a bit of rope/twine/string to the hole on rail on both sides of the bed and use the twine to pull & prevent the sides from moving outward. (you might need to drill a hole, or insert a screw to tie to) Then the slats won't drop thru between the sides when you get on the bed.

The key is that this is cheap, easy, doesn't require many tools and doesn't alter the bed significantly - useful if you're a tenant.

Red line in image shows where the rope should go (obviously the other end is tied to the other side)

enter image description here

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    I'd consider a length of wire (instead of fiber) which might be more stretch-resistant. May 20 at 1:54
  • Forces here are not huge - the manufacturer of the bed thinks that some brace is not required but if you jump on the bed from the side there is enough flex that shifts everything sideways and the slats and the mattress drops through. Wire might be better, but every where I have applied this trick, cost was important. A bit of string or some scrap twine is free (or almost so) and in a bedsit you wouldn't have any wire and need to purchase some.
    – D Duck
    May 20 at 8:50
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I'm really amazed nobody suggested the fix I had to apply. My rails would tilt outward towards the bottom and fall off, so when I got married my father-in-law came in and screwed the slats to the bed frame rails. There's not a lot of stress they're having to face so the rails should fall in line.

Not only would that solve your warping problem, it would solve the issue of the slats falling out.

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    I think there is even no need to screw down all the slats, just the middle one should be enough to keep the rest in place
    – Pelle
    May 20 at 8:20
  • Agree you don't need to screw every single slat - but I'd do more than one - maybe 3 in the middle and then "the odd one" elsewhere. Once you've got the tools out, you might as well do a bit extra ;-) May 20 at 9:49
  • That may work fine, but if one rail is warped more than the other you can end up with two curved rails.
    – isherwood
    May 20 at 18:21
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First, fix the corner where we can see the exposed dowels. That's not helping you at all. Clean out the old wood glue, and then add more, and clamp it up overnight. Check the others too - if they're loose, re-glue.

Then I'd add a stringer or two that goes across the bed frame, at the middle. This could be relatively light wood, or even a strap of nylon banding into a cleat/hook which is screwed to the inside of the side-rail.

Lastly, I'd explore reinforcing that side rail where the slats rest. If you sister another length of wood on there with screws and glue, once its pulled straight by the stringers then you should be good.


Extra - consider getting your 7 year old to help. This is a great project to get them understanding how things work - after all its their bed and they are in it 1/3 of the day. And if something doesn't look perfect, well its not fine cabinetry.

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    Good ideas. Re the corner/exposed dowells - sure. That's only like that because the bed had been temporarily disassembled for room redecoration. And it was pointless properly reassembling it if I was going to immediately take it to bits again to fix the side beam. Oh and cool idea about teaching a 7 year old. Sadly, it's the bed that's 7 years old, not any human being ;-) May 19 at 10:22
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    Although, if you could get the 7-year-old bed to help with its own fixing, that would be an incredible achievement all its own! :D May 21 at 15:22
  • Yeah sorry about the mis-read. I must have conflated details with another question, and I also remember fixing a steel framed slat bed with a assistance of a young child once.
    – Criggie
    May 21 at 22:37
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I have solved this problem with a pair of truck ratchet straps and a couple straight mending plates. Attach the mending plates on the bottom of the shelf formed by the bent out bed frame rail; run the webbing loosely between the mending plates and the wood. In other words, don't tighten the mending plate screws to the point where the webbing cannot move easily.

Tighten the ratchet straps; don't over do it. You'll need a total of 4 mending plates and associated screws. Make sure the mending plate screws are short enough to not poke out on the top of the shelf, interfering with the slates. Once the ratchet straps are tensioned, consider tightening the mending plate screws a little.

You may want to take the opportunity to reinforce the center support; if the bed does not have one, consider adding a vertical support to the center rail. In addition, take a look at a generous carpet protector caster cup.

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  • Sound like this is meant to be a permanent tensioning installation? I'd use turnbuckles, hanging wire, and eyehooks instead of ratchet straps and mending plates. May 21 at 1:06

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