Things That Go “Bump” in the Night

By , January 19, 2015

Very early Sunday morning, we felt a familiar jolt in the bed, the small shock of the cat arriving in our midst from some nighttime errand.

Except, the cat lay nestled in Michelle’s arms. The jolt came from something else!

We listened for the sound of our wine glasses ringing, our surest indicator of an earthquake, but they remained silent. We turned on lights and looked around, but saw no evidence of anything that might have fallen on the bed. Then we looked underneath it.The slats of the bed and their supporting runner sagged noticeably on my side. The bed was falling apart!

Soon after moving to the homestead, we dismantled the homemade master bed that came with the property and built a new one out of dimensional lumber. We looked at bed plans in books and on the Internet, then designed our own, a simple mattress box of 1X6″ pine, with doubled 2X4″ legs and crosswise slats of 1X4″, secured with drywall screws.

The newly constructed master bed (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The newly constructed master bed, before adding central stringer (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We’re very pleased with the results. It only took a day to construct, including tearing the old bed apart. We tried it for a few nights, and found that we needed to add a bar up the center of the bottom to better support the slats beneath the mattress. We could have let it go, but we’d end up flipping those slats occasionally to keep them from bowing too much. We then had an excellent bed that lasted for many years. The space underneath is much larger without the having had to raise the bed platform higher than the old bed, so we can shove plastic tubs of clothing under it. We kept the usable bed length while shortening the overall space taken up, allowing more floor space around it.

Our success inspired us to build a bed for Aly. A single bed in our new design gave her a lot of extra space in her tiny bedroom. As a bonus, since we cut up 8-foot lumber lengths for our bed, the spare lumber accounted for all the materials for her bed except two long boards on each side. We built two new beds for about $30 each, not counting the mattresses. We got those from a local furniture store, simple mattresses with no box springs, under $90 each. They’re light to move and very comfortable.

Eventually, though, use broke the drywall screws, probably one by one. The last one probably accounted for the pop we heard when I arose the morning before. The slat runner, which we’d fitted well between the legs on my side, held in place for another night before slipping out, awakening us with a thump in the night.

We got up and grabbed tools from the shed: a power drill, more drywall screws, and bar clamps to straighten and hold the sagging runner in place until it could be reattached.

So, yes, we did in fact get up in the middle of the night to make the bed . . . .

In about half an hour, we had a sturdy, quiet bed once again.

When I laid down, I felt the improvement immediately. My side must have sagged for more than a year, but we had returned it to its former firmness.

After recovering the night’s sleep, we improved Michelle’s side, not only to strengthen its aging fasteners, but to quiet it, as it had become, by default, the noisy side of the bed.

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