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What can I do to fix my bed? The screws go through the headboard and footboard into the side bars, but the whole thing is loose. When I get into bed it's all fine as I have pushed the headboard up against the wall, but when I wake up the top of the headboard is about 6-8" away from the wall. I have tried to tighten the screws, but they just keep turning, so I take it they are just loose. Would getting steel braces that screw onto the leg and sidebar angle on all four legs solve the problem? It's quite a chunky pine bed with corner posts and knicker rail on the footboard. Thank you.

  • Do the screws terminate in the wood, or are they bolts that pass through and are secured by a nut? Because if they're bolts, you'll need to find the nut and hold it with a wrench while you turn the head. – Doresoom Dec 12 '14 at 16:23
  • Hi, they are screws that terminate in the wood. I wondered if they have lost their grip and the bed needs something extra now, that's why I thought of the steel brace. Thank you. – Fruity Dec 12 '14 at 17:13
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I'd think using the bolt designed for exactly this job would be the way to fix this, rather than following a poor design choice by whoever built the bed.

Bed Bolts are machine bolts (metal to metal threads) that mate with a cylindrical "nut" that goes into a drilled cross hole in the side rail. The bedframe to rail job is what they were designed to do (though they have other uses, once you are aware of them.)

bed bolt image from Lee Valley Hardware

Further detail - OK, those are "modern" bed bolts, for some reason I more easily found images of "old" style bed bolts with normal square nuts, which are a huge pain to actually use in a wooden bedframe than this "modern" style bed bolt pictured above.

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It sounds like the wood surrounding the screw has been stripped out. The best way to fix this is as follows:

  • Measure the location of the existing hole centers from fixed reference points, like the distance from the base of the leg and the distance in from the side.
  • Drill out the holes to a common dowel size that's larger than the screw diameter.
  • Tap in a section of dowel coated in wood glue with a mallet. It should be a tight fit.
  • Wipe off excess glue.
  • Let the glue dry the proper amount of time specified for working strength.
  • Trim off any protruding amount of the dowel with a sharp chisel.
  • Re-drill a pilot hole for the wood screws in the same place, referencing the measurements you took for the original holes.
  • Drive screws into pilots.

For the proper pilot hole size, you can use a reference chart like this one. Note that they're different for hardwoods and softwoods. If you want the headboard to stay on longer this time, you may want to consider using hardwood dowels.

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  • Thank you very much for that info. That sounds like a job for the weekend - when it's forecast to be very cold. :) – Fruity Dec 12 '14 at 18:21
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Both of the above are great solutions, but would require tools you may not have. For very little money and time, you can try simply replacing the current Screws with slightly wider and longer ones. Take one of the current Screws with you to the hardware store, and describe the problem to them. They will help you find the right size.... Just one size wider should work perfectly.

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