After dropping off some stuff at the Erie City Mission, Melanie and I walked through the display floor
to see what was available. We've gotten some good things there in the past, including
a Queen Anne chair and a china hutch. We've
been looking for a used, full-size bed for the spare bedroom to replace the twin bed
that used to be our daughter's. Fortunately, the Erie City Mission had recently acquired
a turn-of-the-20th-century rope bed that, according to lore, used to belong to the owner
of a defunct local brewery (Kohler?). Heavy pine is used for the entire framework. It
was in fair shape, with expected dings and scratches from 100+ years of use. Rather than
undertake a total restoration project at this time, I decided to just do what was needed
to make it serviceable. A few of the rope pegs were missing, and the sacking bottom was
missing. Pieces of plywood had been attached across the frame rails, with a cotton-stuffed
mattress on top.
A replacement sacking bottom and the missing pegs were ordered from
Weaving Haus Antiques in Zoar,
Ohio. You give them the inside dimensions of the frame rails and the number of pegs on
each side, then they make the sacking bottom out of sail canvas and mail it, along with
enough rope to do the job, to you. The side rails have tenons that insert into mortises
in the headboard and footboard, then lag screws tighten from the outside of the headboard
and footboard. The holes for the screws in the ends of the side rails were totally stripped
out, so I used Gorilla glue to hold in concrete lag anchors for the 5/16" lag bolts.
It made for a very robust screw receptacle that could be torqued down securely. I should
have taken a picture of them.
The sacking bottom installed without incident, while working to keep it centered between
the frame rails while tightening the rope. It will need to be re-tightened in a couple
weeks after giving the rope and canvas time to stretch to its new shape.
We pulled all the old cotton out of the canvas mattress and had a piece of high density,
5" thick foam cut at House of Foam and Fabric here in Erie at a staggering cost
A standard full-size bed mattress is about 2 inches too long to fit between the headboard
and footboard, but the width is just right. The top of the frame rails are at 19 inches,
so if you put even a minimal box spring and mattress on it, you'd need a step stool or
trampoline to get into bed! The 5 inch thick foam mattress puts the top surface at 24
inches as it is. Our total investment for the bed, sacking bottom, 5"nthick foam mattress,
2½" thick Memory Foam, and miscellaneous hardware and pegs was about $800. Ouch!
Rope Bed Frame & Sacking Bottom
Even with the sacking bottom rope pulled as tight as I dare, the center still sagged
fairly substantially with two people on it. So, I cut a piece of 1/2" thick plywood that
was about 12" narrower than the measurement around the inside edge of the bed frame,
then ran a mesh of 1/4" sisal rope under it as shown in the picture below. The rope was
wrapped around the same frame pegs as the sacking bottom rope (also 1/4" sisal). The
result is a moderately firm surface that no longer sags in the center. It is very comfortable
with a 5" thick foam mattress on the bottom and a 2" Memory Foam layer on top.
1/2" Plywood Support Under Sacking Bottom
Posted March 5, 2012
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