A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    Making a Rope Bed


    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2011-05-30

    Making a Rope Bed Empty Making a Rope Bed

    Post  Admin on Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:32 pm

    A Period Rope Bed

    Some time ago, several of our friends told us
    about a period picture one of them had found, a 13th c. Byzantine
    ivory showing a rope bed they made a version of that bed sized for
    a small child. It turned out to be ridiculously easy
    to make--about half an hour for me to build the bed, plus another
    hour or so for me and my lady wife to lace it.

    The basic problem with rope beds is that unless
    the rope is very taut, they sag. The solution in this design is to
    have the mesh of ropes fasten not to the food of the bed but to a
    horizontal dowel a little above the foot. You wrap a rope six times
    around the dowel and foot and pull. This pulls the dowel towards the
    foot with a mechanical advantage of twelve to one (minus substantial
    losses from friction and some loss from the rope not being quite a
    right angles to the dowel), tightening the bed.

    The basic construction is simple. The legs are
    oak, 1 5/8" x 1 5/8". The sides are oak dowels, 1" in diameter. Each
    leg has two 1" diameter holes drilled into it at right angles to each
    other, one a little above the other. The ends of the dowels fit into
    the holes.

    Materials for the bed as shown

    2 legs, oak, 9"x1 5/8 x 1 5/8

    2 legs, oak, 18"x1 5/8 x 1 5/8

    2 sides, 1" oak dowels, 4' long

    2 ends, 1" oak dowels, 2' long

    1 end piece, 3/4" oak dowel, 26" long

    1/4" manila rope, 1 piece 50' long (for the web),
    1 piece 7' long (to wrap around the end piece and the

    Total cost: aprox $60

    In addition to its size, this bed differs from the one shown in the
    picture in four ways.

    1. The legs are plain instead of

    2. The legs are proportionally shorter than in the

    3. The legs at the head extend higher than at the
    foot. I did it this way with the idea of eventually adding some sort
    of headboard.

    4. The holes the side dowels plug into are an inch
    and a quarter higher on the legs than the holes that the end dowels
    plug into. I did it that way because, given the thickness of the
    legs, I couldn't get sufficiently deep holes at the same height
    without having them run into each other. I don't know whether the
    fact that the original appears to have sides and ends at the same
    height reflects shallower holes, thicker legs, or artistic

    There is a fifth difference in the picture--the
    way the tightening rope is wrapped--but by the time you read this I
    will have fixed that.

    The bed is strong enough to hold our 68
    pound son although it is a few inches too short
    for him and the side dowels bow in a little when he is in the

    He made two more beds for my two nieces, with
    somewhat thicker dowels for the side pieces.

    The most recent experiment was an adult sized bed.
    I wanted a design that could be widely used by people in the Society,
    so limited myself to materials inexpensively available from the local
    Home Depot.
    Making a Rope Bed Moz-screenshotIt costs about forty dollars to
    make, including the rope.

    The legs were cut from a single 8 foot long 4x4,
    which cost less than seven dollars. With legs that big, I had no
    trouble making it with sides and ends at the same height.The head and
    foot pieces are 1 1/4" softwood dowels, probably intended as closet
    poles, but dowels that size are not really adequate for the side
    pieces. I tried using them, and
    they bowed quite alarmingly when I lay down in the bed, although they
    didn't break. So I replaced them with six foot long softwood 2x2's
    (available at about fifty cents a foot) and tapered down the ends to
    fit in the holes. That seems to work fairly well. 1 3/4" softwood
    dowels would work too, and save you some trouble, but I couldn't find
    them in the Home Depot. If you are feeling extravagant and have
    access to a good lumberyard, 1 3/4" oak dowels (about $4/foot) would
    work even better.

    If you want a bed with ornamental legs, check out your local large lumber store, Home
    Depot, or equivalent for ornamental table legs, banister pieces, and
    the like. Or find a friend with a lathe.

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    Making a Rope Bed Empty Re: Making a Rope Bed

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:39 pm

    A Transportable Rope Bed

    Making a Rope Bed Rope%20bed

    It is not so much that Terafan figured out how to make a rope bed, but
    one was offered as a prize for the "Bed Sports Tourney" in the SCA competition. After winning the tourney and using the bed for a couple of years,
    Terafan decided that the original legs were too short, so he made new ones. The
    advantage of longer legs is that now lots of stuff, transport boxes, etc. can be stored
    conveniently under the bed, out of the way.

    The bed consists of two side rails, a rail for both the
    head and the foot, four legs, and a fancy headboard. To make one of these
    beds (to fit a "double" mattress pad, you
    need the following materials:

    • Two 2 x 6 x 84" boards (side rails)
    • Two 2 x 6 x 60" boards (head and foot rails)
    • Two 2 x 6 x 30" boards (head end feet)
    • Two 2 x 6 x 24" boards (foot end feet)
    • One 2 x 6 x 56" board (fancy head board)
    • Two ropes approximately 72 ft long

    Making a Rope Bed Bed%20pieces

    If you wrap the rope around the rail a couple of times before
    starting to weave the rope, there will be no tension on the
    knots and they won't be hard to undo when you want to
    take the bed apart.It is easier to use two separate pieces of rope. One for the head-to-foot
    weaving, and one for the side-to-side weaving.
    Making a Rope Bed Bedknots2

    Here are is a drawing of the bed with dimensions. The dimensions
    can be modified as necessary. If you want the bed taller, make the legs longer.
    If you want it wider or narrowner to fit your air matress, then adjust the head and
    foot rails. Finally, if you want a shorter or longer bed, you can adjust the side

    Making a Rope Bed Ropebed1

    Making a Rope Bed Ropebed2.

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