David Fay Custom Furniture
Image of hidden bed-rail-to-post connection

From Fine Woodworking Frame-and-Panel Bed article

by David Fay

Decorative caps made to cover bolt holes in bedposts work fine, especially when used on traditional-looking furniture. But I didn't want a cap to detract from the fluid shape of the posts of this bed. A friend, Mike Laine, showed me how to get a strong joint using mortise and tenons coupled with captured nuts and bolts. The joint is secure and leaves no trace of mechanics once the bed has been assembled and a mattress or futon installed.

Refer to the drawing in p. 76 for the sized and location of the joinery, which is cut while the stock is still square. Clamp and dry-fit the posts to the lower rails of the headboard and footboard, one at a time. Then, on the drill press, align a drill bit with the already drilled bolt hole in the post and drill through the tenon of the rail, being careful not to drill too deeply.

Remove the lower rail and thread the bolt through the hole and into the nut. Scribe the outline of the nut onto the tenon. The mortise for the nut captures only half its thickness; any more would weaken the tenon. To make room for the protruding half of the nut, enlarge the mortise in the bedpost around the nut with a small router and finish up with a chisel.

The bolt is housed in a dado cut into the lower rails, centered between the two tenons. Mortise around the head to give you enough clearance to reach in with a hex wrench and cinch everything down. Check the joints for fit, then epoxy the nuts in place, being careful not to get any glue on the threads.

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