Torsion box for bed

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dino drosas

Dino
Corporate Member
Has anyone built a torsion box to replace the box spring that supports the mattress? I have a reproduction "Charleston Rice Bed" and thinking of doing just that. As you can see from the picture, the box spring is well below the bed rails and the mattress surface is quite high. I feel that I can correct both of these problems with a torsion box and get better support to boot. Any experience or advice as to size, materials and etc; would be helpful. Thanks, Dino Drosas

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Alan in Little Washington

Alan Schaffter
Corporate Member
Dino, I haven't made a box spring, but I think you can build one that is light and plenty strong enough from 3/16" thick hardboard.

Below is an 8' X 18" X 2.5" torsion box I whipped together from just some 3/16" Masonite and yellow glue for my assembly table article (I ran out of 3/16" so used some 1/4" pegboard for some of the web). It was VERY light yet plenty strong and rigid, holding over 300 lbs of bricks at mid-span in the pic. (It didn't handle water too well when I used it as a scaffold to wash my porch ceiling, however! :BangHead::BangHead::BangHead: )

I used a dado blade and a simple jig on my tablesaw to quickly and easily cut halved joints in all the web pieces, which just slipped together.

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jhreed

New User
james
If you like a really firm mattress follow Alan's lead. A box spring is pretty much what it says, a box of springs so it has a certain amount of give with it. The torsion box will have about as much give as concrete just much lighter.

That aside, I love the beautiful bed. Also, I am wondering about the house. Looking at the moldings I suspect an older house. Are you sure it is not in Charleston? Bet there arre hardwood floors under that carpet.

Love old houses, mine was built in 1940

James
 

jarrett

New User
Jarrett
Agreed with above--I think the torsion box would make a very stiff base without any give.

Have you thought about making a slatted base instead? It could be as simple as slats of pine secured together with a piece of webbing--that is the type I have bought from IKEA. On my current bed, I am doing the same and just used wood I got from the borg. The flexibility of the wood you use will give it a bit of a spring, and you can lower your bed by the entire height of your previous box spring.
 

dino drosas

Dino
Corporate Member
Thanks for the replies.

Alan; A torsion box build for an assembly table is in the near future. As for using one as a box spring; I think a slatted platform as Jarrett suggested might suit my needs better and it lowers the mattress a greater amount. Only problem both solutions cause is that the bottom edge of the headboard will be well above the top surface of the mattress.

James; The bed was made for me by a close friend who lives here in Myrtle Beach and has since stopped stopped all woodworking. He is a self taught woodworker and one of the best craftsman I have ever seen. As for the house; it is here in MB and was built in the 1930's as a summer home. It is located a stones throw away from the site that was once the Ocean Forest Hotel, one of the east coast's most magnificent hotels which unfortunately opened in 1929. I purchased the house in 1979; totally refurbished it and am continuing to do so. My Goal now it to replace the furnishings with either ones I have built or built by other contemporaries.

http://www.scencyclopedia.org/oceanforesthotel.htm
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Staff member
Corporate Member
Be advised that when using tempered hardboard (masonite sheet) for the top, the box will be very slick. If the mattress sliding around while making the bed is an issue you may want to consider unpainted 1/4 B-C or A-C plywood as a top. It will help the mattress adhere to the box. Of course you could also get a rubber rug mat and lay the mattress atop that.
I made a similar box for our bed using 1 x 8 white pine for the sides with 1 x 4 vertical slats dadoed, in 1/4" deep ~ 12" o.c. glued & screwed & covered with paneling. If it is fitted close to the rails & set atop slats on the bed rails it should have no strength issues.
 

jarrett

New User
Jarrett
Well, you could just make a small base for the slats to rise up the mattress to the height you need. My bed right now is basically a box with slats across the top; a shorter version could do the trick for you.
I think you'd probably want a midbeam and two sets of slats for anything bigger than a twin (I'm guessing the bed is a full from the pic?)
 

Alan in Little Washington

Alan Schaffter
Corporate Member
Thanks for the replies.

Alan; A torsion box build for an assembly table is in the near future. As for using one as a box spring; I think a slatted platform as Jarrett suggested might suit my needs better and it lowers the mattress a greater amount. Only problem both solutions cause is that the bottom edge of the headboard will be well above the top surface of the mattress.

Ok, so the issue is after removing the box spring, with just a mattress sitting on slats or a torsion box, the top of the mattress is/will be lower than you want in relation to the bottom edge of the headboard.

First, I assume there is some sort of bed slat cleat running the the full length of the inside of each bed rail. If not, and if possible, remove whatever is being used currently to support the box spring and add cleats to support slats or a torsion box and put the mattress w/o box spring on that.

If there are slat cleats but they are too low, either add a new set or go with an appropriately sized (thicker) torsion box. If you use a bed skirt the torsion box can actually stick up above the tops of the rails.
 

mshel

New User
Michael Shelley
Dino,

When I built our bed, King Size pencil post, we purchased a box springs (actually two) and a pillow top mattress. With all the items in the bed, it was way too tall and when laying on the mattress, it felt like you could reach up and touch the ceiling. :eek: So, to lower the mattress, we took out the box springs and I sized two pieces of 3/4" ply to fit within the confines of the frame. The plywood fit right to the edges and layed on the "L" brackets which were mounted on the rails, footboard, headboard. In order to keep the ply from separating in the middle, I made a 5th leg that sits on the floor and supports the plywood right in the center of the bed. We then put some egg crate foam on top of that and then put the mattress on that. Been sleeping on it for many many years and it is solid as a rock. With the thickness of today's mattresses, ours was about 14" thick, box springs are kind of a waste in my book.

Certainly not the most elegant fix, but just as solid and from a monetary standpoint just as frugal.

MIke
 

froglips

New User
Jim Campbell
To add to the mix, from uncomfortable personal experience.......

I put my inner-spring mattress on the floor, removing the box spring. Long story (dog had knee surgery and I didn't want him jumping).

I ended up with all sort of pains. Turns out the springs in the mattress become like boulders poking up.

I restored the box spring and my pains went away (well, the pains from the mattress :)

So, I suspect the mattress works with the box spring to make for a "comfortable" experience.

Were I to do a torsion box spring (ha, new term?), I'd not want an inner-spring mattress. A space foam or maybe something like a Shiki Futon would work better.

Oh, I did try a topper (mattress on floor), that did not help.

Of course, these are just my theories, based on experiences that could be totally unrelated to reality. I never let reality get in the way of a hair brained theory!

Jim
 

dino drosas

Dino
Corporate Member
Re: Torsion box for bed - conclusions

First, let me elaborate on my thoughts and then my plan of action. The bed rails are a full 2 1/4" x 4" tall. Whatever the solution, the support platform for the mattress has to be hidden within the confines of the rail. As it stands now, the mattress is supported by the traditional "L" brackets (there is no cleating on the inside of the rails) and the bottom of the box spring hangs 4" below the rails. I have never liked the looks of this (been about 20 years now, LOL) and I do not want a bed skirt to cover it all up.

This is what I have come up with. I am going to make up some steel "T" beams using 1 1/2 x 3/16 flat bar and use them in place of slats. The "T" beams will rest on cleats, slotted and notched, so that the bottom of the beams will be flush with the bottom of the rails. Finished 1/2" plywood will be placed on top of the beams. This will give me a finished and hidden platform and lower mattress height by 2 inches. If this reduction in height is not enough, I can always get a thinner mattress - current one is 12" thick.

Other alternatives: 1 -If I really wanted to do something radical; I could cut off the spaded feet and lower the bed a full 4" - don't really see that happening.:nah: 2 - I could build a set of steps, but those are always in the way and can get very tricky in the middle of the night after a brew or two.:eek:ccasion1 3 - I could always do another twenty years of not liking the looks of it - the last twenty sure were easy and quick too!:gar-La;
 

Alan in Little Washington

Alan Schaffter
Corporate Member
Easy fix- adjust the size of the "L" brackets for the proper mattress height, then wrap the box spring that extends below the side rails with Harry Potter's "Cloak of Invisibility" or something from David Copperfield!

:rotflm::rotflm:
 

DavidF

New User
David
A bit late to the party, but I am 3000 miles away! I did make a torsion box for my asian style bed and also did not want a central support showing underneath. I made an 1 /1/4 thick box using 1/8" ply skins on 1" core. I used an 8" temporpedic mattress on that, which, if you ever try one, is the best thing for sleeping and doesn't need any other support. My bed was a 60 x 80 Queen and I made two boxes each 60 x 40. The boxes were supported on their edges by 1" strips set into a dado in the side rails.

Hope all is well with everybody!
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I only make platform beds after making a couple traditionals with boxed springs. I am an amateur but have built 5 platform beds so far. The most comfortable is my daughters twin with about 4 inch wide slats of 3/4 baltic birch plywood. It is plenty strong enough for two people. The slats are held up by cleats on the rails that have 5/8 dowels to position each cleat.

My son's queen sized bed has a 3/4 plywood platform supported by cleats on the rails. I think it is a little too firm but he thinks it is fine. If I did it again, and I may for my daughters queen sized bed I need to start, I will make wide cleats, probably 12 inches wide. Should give it a little more give.

The bed I use is a queen sized bed with a very rigid platform made of plywood. I needed to raise the matress so I have a simple web of vertical pieces the height I wanted, they are around 6 inches wide, with 1/2 plywood on top. It is not very heavy and is completely rigid.

The other couple platform beds are older kids beds with a 2x frame of 2x4s topped with waferboard and they have little 2x2s under the wafer. They are plenty strong but kind of crude. And the platforms are heavy.

I would put a cleat down your rails to support the platform. Drywall screws or a similar screw from McFeeleys are all you need to attach the cleats. Will only take a few minutes. Hardwood is nicer to work with and look at by a piece of 2x lumber would work. The design of the platform is a function of how much height you need above the cleat. If you can just put slats of 3/4 plywood between the cleats, I would do that. If you need to raise the mattress some, I would make a frame of 3/4 plywood the necessary height and top it with 1/2 plywood. To use thinner stuff on top requires too many cross rails IMHO. I would put them on about 18 inch centers and use 1/2 plywood. If the mattress is a little older or softer than you really like, I completely rigid platform will firm things up. For a new mattress that is pretty firm, I prefer some give in slats. Wider slats give less. You could start with them as wide as the width of the plywood, 4 feet, and split them if it seems too firm.

Jim
 
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