Period bed center rail


(revised to get rid of the funny characters)
Looking for a little help on a period bed detail.  I'm in the midst of a Sheraton Field Bed build, queen sized.  I lost the battle and will have box springs, and in this case it will be a split set - can't make a turn with a full queen box spring.  I'm using bed irons.
It dawned on me I haven't fully figured out the center support of the box springs.  I planned a head to foot center rail with bed irons attached.  If you use a rail with off the shelf split box springs it seems that the box springs will extend beyond the width of the top mattress.  Maybe it's not a big deal but it seems like I need to figure it out.

I believe I have a few options:
a) Use a very narrow center rail, like around 3/4".  It can't twist or roll over when it's between the two box springs so perhaps it's ok.  I have a custom piece in mind to bracket to the lower rail at head and foot.   That minimizes the difference.
b) Ask for custom box springs to account for the difference.
c) Use a double angle iron (a 'T' shape).  Weld on plates to replace the bed irons or simply weld the irons onto the T.
d) I don't have a plan D.

I'm interested the logical answer as well as the most "accurate" if such a thing is possible for a period bed made in 2012.

The mattress set is not yet purchased but it is selected.  I own enough bed irons to place them on the center support rail.  Jeff Headley did a great session on this at WIA and I've used most of his advice (especially about pillow eating headboards); but I don't remember if this was discussed beyond the need for center support with larger beds.  Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you
Paul Sanow

I'm not sure I exactly know what you are asking but when I make a bed with two b/s (like a king) I use 3 angle irons on each side and two on each of the head and foot rails.  These I place so that they support the inside corners of the b/s.  I then bolt a support bar to the under side of the center side irons (left to right) for added support. 

The problem with using a b/s is that it hangs below the rails and then a dust ruffle must be used to hide it.  If you drop the rails closer to the floor so the irons are flush with the bottom of the rails then the bed can look out of proportion (in my opinion). 

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
Thanks Dennis.  That's a good idea.  What do do you use as a "support bar"?  Is that a metal shape like angle or lumber?

I've managed to find a fairly thin box spring at 5" which has helped in terms of bed height and reduce the exposure, but in the end I think it will need to have the dust ruffle.

For a support bar I use whatever is around my shop.  Typically 5/4 or 4/4 x 5-6" wide.

Dennis Bork
Paul, I ran into this problem befor on my own bed.  Whatever you do will not be period.  I got rid of the box spring and just mounted the mattress on a melamine sheet that was supported by notched 2x4 s dressed on jointer and planer down to an inch thick and notched to fit over the bent metal supports that we're screwed into the sides and ends and dropped down below sides so a box and mattress would fit but not rise up too far and ending up being too high and looking off.  Then we got a new mattress that was like 18" thick and ended up using a spring board to get in bed. And the nice headboard disappeared behind mattress ,pillows etc. after going to just mattress the sheet was supported by 4 boards going side to side on top of the metal  L ' s that we're held in place by a dressed 2x4 with notches sitting on top of the side to side boards.  It is flush with those.  The melimine sheets were cut to fit and just lay on top.  With this setup the mattress is at correct height, just above side rails.  Course I had to get rid of fancy 2000 dollar mattress and now have sleep number that is only 6" thick and looks more like old fashioned straw stuffed that would be period.  Also 30" wide headboard is now visible.  Good luck!
Centre rails are common on period double/king size beds, and necessary too.

I have made several exact copies of large beds (and currently sleep on one), all of which have a centre rail and slats across the frame. I throw the mattress straight onto the slats which are quite springy and replace the action of the box spring and also allow the mattress to breathe.


  • Geo_III_mahogany_bed_c1795_01a.jpg
    95.7 KB · Views: 71
When I built my periodish bed I bought the mattress first to get the measurements.  The fellow at the store looked at me kind of funny when I told him I would be making the bed for the mattress.  It seems that this is sort of unusual these days.  Anyway, the relevant bit here is that he told me that unless you support the center of the mattress with something it will void the warranty.  He told me that most modern bed frame have a piece that goes from the bottom of the frame to the floor, like a fifth leg.  I too have a split b/s and used some old bed rails on the sides to support the slats, then stuck a hunk of oak under the center slat.  So hopefully my warranty is still in force!
Jack Plane said:
Centre rails are common on period double/king size beds, and necessary too.

I have made several exact copies of large beds (and currently sleep on one), all of which have a centre rail and slats across the frame. I throw the mattress straight onto the slats which are quite springy and replace the action of the box spring and also allow the mattress to breathe.

This is exactly how my bed is made.  It is a king size, and I had to do some arm twisting to talk my wife out of the stupid box springs (they are really boxes nowadays, no springs.)  One of the selling points was the under bed storage opportunities.  My bed is 14" clear of the floor.  Shown are some temporary fabric boxes.  Probably will make some nice mahogany boxes soon.

The structure of my bed (made of home center 4x4's) and 1" oak slats, is more than strong and stiff enough, even for me (I'm a pretty big guy.)



  • period_bedstead.jpg
    26.5 KB · Views: 73
Thanks everybody.  Try as I like, I've had no luck convincing my wife on the platform bed vs. box springs.  She's a traditional gal and is convinced that we need to have the box springs.  Even the mattress store salesman agreed with me that we could go without but still she's just convinced we need it.  So any other ideas about dealing with the split box springs?


I have made a few and my Dad has made hundreds of beds, many of them kings with box springs.  He has l brackets bent that hang down and support the perimeter of the box springs and connect across the bed side to side with angle iron and sometimes with channels.  Pretty inexpensive, easy to put together and will never fail.  Cal
Here is a bed frame to support the modern king size box springs.


  • Dog on it! King size bed frame.JPG
    Dog on it! King size bed frame.JPG
    157.5 KB · Views: 99
Here is another picture without framed support. Please realize that all mattress manufactorers have there own warrenty requirements and they won't cover handmade beds!!!


  • King size bed supports.JPG
    King size bed supports.JPG
    127.5 KB · Views: 113
Was there even such a thing as a period king size bed?  I have never seen a period bed bigger than a sort of full size.  Maybe for a actual King or Queen in a palace.  So would not the supports be in the style of whatever but not period repros?

Did you design/make the bracket that holds up the center rail? I looked on Horton Brass' website and they dont have such a bracket for center rails and I was wondering where I can get one for a king size bed I am building for the wife...
I have a center supports for the dividing box spring support rail for a King size bed. I have them made from a local welding shop. I do remember your request but I have to much on my plate. I can have some made or show you what you need. 

Assuming I understand you, I make my support out of poplar and bolt it to the support bar.

Dennis Bork

When you have time could you explain how you do it...I am using 4" bed irons for the box spring(s) & thought of taking two bed irons and welding a 1/4" plate to turn it into a bracket.  I was thinking of using 5/4 stock for the center rail...what size is your center rail?

Your words are greatly appreciated, thank you so much...
John, Think of the 4" bed iron on either side of your 5/4 center rail and then weld a 1" center metal support between the two bed irons as a support for the center rail.