Jacked up

The problem with home projects is how they grow. Today, though, I managed to avoid a lot a yak shaving through the deliberate misuse of a tool.

We’re going to recarpet our second floor. My wife is in charge of picking the color; I’m in charge of getting the rooms ready. Two of the rooms need their baseboards painted before the new carpet arrives, so I started priming and painting on Sunday. This involves, of course, moving everything away from the walls: bookshelves, cabinets, lamps, and—most significantly for our story tonight—beds.

One of the rooms has a queen-sized bed with a wooden frame. As I walked it out toward the center of the room, I noticed that the connections between the headboard and siderails were in terrible shape. The connection on each side consists of a cast brass plate with slotted holes screwed into the upright of the headboard and another cast brass plate with hooks screwed into the end of the side rail. The hooks go into the slots and everything should be hunky-dory.

Unfortunately, the hooked plates are screwed into the end grain of the siderails, which isn’t the best way to make a connection. Because the legs don’t have casters, every time the bed is moved, the legs of the headboard slide across the carpet and wiggle the connections. When I pulled the bed to the center of the room to paint, I saw that a few of the screws had stripped out and both connections to the headboard were about to fail. I couldn’t leave it that way.

Now, the right way to fix this would be to take the mattress and box spring off the frame so I could detach the headboard from the siderails and reset the stripped screws. But the room was already in an uproar and there was nowhere to put them without first rearranging another room. I could see the logistics of this turning into an evening-long project of it own. So…


Yes, that’s the jack from my car with a 1×4 on top to protect the siderail—my very own There I Fixed It entry. I jacked up one side of the bed, slipped a stack of 4×4s and 2×4s under it to hold it up, then jacked up the other side. With the head of the bed up in the air, the headboard was easy to detach, so I could get at the stripped holes in the siderails. I filled the holes with slivers of hardwood cut to fit,1 screwed the plates back in place, reattached the headboard, and lowered the bed back down to the floor. Easy.

One interesting thing about the operation: Although I brought along the jack handle (you can see it in the photo), it wasn’t necessary. The jack’s leverage, meant to lift a car, was so great I could lift the bed by turning the screw with my fingers.

  1. Yes, I know that’s not the greatest fix in the world, but the original connection, crappy as it was, lasted over 25 years. My fix should last at least 15.