I'm building a king-sized bunk bed using a loft/joist design. Basically, I've got (see below):

  • slats nailed into joists
  • joists joined to headers with blind tenons
  • headers joined to posts with blind tenons

My current goal is to build it without glue, so I need some way to keep the frame in tension. I was originally thinking dovetail joints or tusk tenons, but I just had the idea of using turnbuckles, instead.*

I'd run cables between turnbuckles and eyehooks, one head to foot and the other side to side. The head-to-foot cable would thread through 1/2" holes drilled into the centers of each joist. So:

  1. Is this done, or am I making up something problematic?
  2. Will the eyehooks pull out of the joists?
  3. Will the holes in the joists weaken them substantially?
  4. Am I overly concerned about my ability to make long-lasting dovetails or the difficulty of making tusk tenons? Those are aesthetically more pleasing anyway, so should I just bite the bullet and use one of them?

* I really the idea of a dovetail, but I'm concerned that between my novice craftsmanship and the wood shrinking, they'll eventually pull out. I was thinking of using a tusk tenon when I realized that that joist would only really be good for tension, and if tension is the goal... cables can do tension...

Frame top Frame top, zoomed

  • If you are going to put cables you may want to consider placing them from corner to corner. In this manner you will get the tension where it does way more good (at the corners) AND you get X bracing of the structure to keep it square.
    – Michael Karas
    Nov 17, 2013 at 7:06
  • Definitely do the corner to corner arrangement, though I would use welded, closed loop through eyebolts with a countersunk nut and washer. Drilling through the frame is a requisite, to center the stresses on the members properly.
    – Jack
    Nov 17, 2013 at 14:30
  • That is awesome, though I'm a little sad the joists will all have to be drilled differently. To confirm I've got this, I'm going to produce another diagram and ask it as another question. If one of you wants to turn your comment into an answer, I'll select it so people know we're done. Otherwise I'll post something myself.
    – LoftyGoals
    Nov 17, 2013 at 17:30


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