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Thread: Steel brackets for headboard

  1. #1
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    Steel brackets for headboard

    The new bed is just about ready, but I need to make some metal brackets to hold the headboard on. The design is something roughly like the attached photo. I'll use three steel struts like in that photo and my wife would like them to be as thin as is reasonable (to give the appearance of the headboard floating). Suggestions on type of steep and minimum width and thickness? I'm thinking 1 1/2"x3/8" or so?

    Also note that the headboard is slightly tilted backwards. I would love to bend the brackets, but don't have access to good equipment to do that. That leaves me with welding as the likely solution, but I'm worried about the strength of it when pressure is put on the headboard. That said, I'd prefer to just have the clean bar and not add any additional dart or structure which changes the shape, but maybe it will be necessary to add some sort of brace for strength?

    Open to ideas. also suggestions of best steel for this.

  2. #2
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    Aaron - I think 1 1/2" x 3/8" thickness will be fine. Either hot rolled, cold rolled 1018, or stainless steel. Your photo shows them as a silver color. Is that to be a natural finish, or painted? You could easily bend "by hand" using a bench vise, dead blow hammer, and soft jaws in the vise so as not to mark up the metal. You could also maybe figure out some method to let in the head board with slots at an angle so you wouldn't need to bend the metal. If you have a friend or local shop with a press brake, that could be another avenue to pursue for nice clean bends. Welding would also be fine, assuming quality welds. These welds could be ground down and metal finished before painting so you wouldn't really know that they are even there.
    David

  3. #3
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    Thanks David.

    I considered cutting slots in the headboard, but given that it also needs hidden bolts/screws to hold it on, it seemed like that was going to be too thin.

    I'll get an extra length of steel and try the bending to see if I like the results. If not, then welding it is.

    My plan is to simply spray paint them - I've found that it can look surprisingly good for being very easy and affordable, especially for a few bits like this. I'd powder coat, but can't really justify the cost for something that's usually going to be hidden by pillows anyway.

  4. #4
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    Aaron,

    I've bent mild steel about that thickness by heating and with a hefty hydraulic press. If heating (acetylene or mapp gas) it's hard to confine the bend to a narrow area so you might get more of a curve than you want. A press can bend in a narrower zone but may need some tricky rigging to end up with two flats with a clean bend between. I think welding would be easiest even with the grinding/smoothing needed afterwards. An oscillating drum/belt sander might clean it up nicely.

    But even easier would be to get someone else to do it! A metal fabrication shop should be able to bend it nicely. (The edges may be slightly distorted depending on the angle.) I haven't had bending done but one near here would shear steel for me. I know they can bend thick steel because I bought some "scrap" once about a foot wide that had a nice 60-deg bend. (I used to buy offcuts and short drops from them at nearly scrap prices - I'd dig through the scrap bins and make a pile of what I wanted, The owner would come out and eyeball the pile and give me a price.)

    JKJ

  5. #5
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    Thanks John - I think I'll be able to get what I need with welding given that it's not going to be in plain sight anyway.

    While I'm here, does anyone have any recommendations for how to attach the struts to both the bed and the headboard?

    1. Big wood screws
    2. Epoxy nuts in to mortises and then bolt them on
    3. Cut threads in the wood for bolts

    This is a bed for our house, so my guess is the headboard will go on and it may well not be removed for 15 years. That said, the screw option just seems inelegant.

  6. #6
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    I would consider going to a welding/fabrication shop and show them what you need. With the right tools the bends should be easy and uniform. Without the right tools I would have a hard time making the 3 pieces uniform. I am guessing you have a lot of money tied up in materials and work tied up in building the bed? Would spending a little to have these pieces built for you be a good investment?

    Have you considered 3 straight pieces going to the middle of the headboard and putting a hinge there? That way you could tweak the angle if you wanted to.

    It seems like the bars should be held off the boards by 1/4" to 1/2" thick spacers? Just seems like it might add to the floating effect and match the modern design element of the bed?

    I think brushed stainless or brushed aluminum would look the best. Or maybe brass might look nice depending on the wood you are using?
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 12-10-2021 at 2:44 AM.

  7. #7
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    My next door neighbor is an accomplished welder. I'm confident that I can produce three identical struts with his assistance via welding. The hinge is a cool idea. I'll discuss with my neighbor to see if there's a nice way to accomplish thisl

    We're going with painted steel due to the desire of the customer (the wife).

    Michael: You're thinking spacers to give the headboard some distance from the struts? I can see that looking nice and it's definitely worth at least trying.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Liebling View Post
    ...
    Michael: You're thinking spacers to give the headboard some distance from the struts? I can see that looking nice and it's definitely worth at least trying.
    I like considering that idea. Either the upper or lower spacers (or both) might be angled to avoid bending the steel. The spacers themselves, angled or straight, could easily be cut from solid steel blocks allowing attachment to the straight pieces by tapping for flat head or recessed socket head screws.

  9. #9
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    I do a lot of metal fabrication and welding would not be my first choice. Flat bar that size will bend relatively easy in either vise with soft jaws or a typical hydraulic press.

    Have you considered stainless steel? It may provide the color that you want w/o the need for painting. Usually you can find short pieces for sale on e-bay, or from Metal Supermarkets.

    If not stainless, cold roll will have a nicer surface than hot rolled steel.

  10. #10
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    I have considered stainless and just going with bare metal.

    Regarding bending, it's absolutely my preference, but I'm mainly concerned about getting three matching pieces. We're in Oakland, CA - we live in a light industrial area by the port and there's lots of metal fabrication around. I'm sure I could find someone to do it for us, but I also really like completing my own projects.

    Also, if 3/8" bar bends relatively easy, should I worry about it supporting the headboard without bending further? My friend had recommended adding some darts t strengthen the struts, but I'd prefer not to from an aesthetic standpoint.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Liebling View Post
    I have considered stainless and just going with bare metal.

    Regarding bending, it's absolutely my preference, but I'm mainly concerned about getting three matching pieces. We're in Oakland, CA - we live in a light industrial area by the port and there's lots of metal fabrication around. I'm sure I could find someone to do it for us, but I also really like completing my own projects.

    Also, if 3/8" bar bends relatively easy, should I worry about it supporting the headboard without bending further? My friend had recommended adding some darts t strengthen the struts, but I'd prefer not to from an aesthetic standpoint.
    I wouldn't say that 3/8" thick x 1 1/2" wide stainless steel (or 1018) bends "relatively easy". You can heat it with a torch along the bend line to make it bend easier. Heat to red/orange color, then bend to make it easier. For me, I would do it in my small press brake with air over hydraulic assist. I've got a digital readout installed to facilitate repeatable bend angles. I think you would tear out the wood where the metal brackets are attached to the wood before the actual metal brackets would bend. For me personally - this would be a simple task - either bending or cutting/welding. But I do lots of metal fabrication so this sort of thing is "routine" for me. If anything, make some "practice" pieces to get the feel for it and to help make a decision if this is something you can accomplish yourself or if you really need to farm it out.

    David

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Liebling View Post
    Regarding bending, it's absolutely my preference, but I'm mainly concerned about getting three matching pieces.
    One possible way to get three matching pieces might be to get someone with the right machine to bend a single wide piece then cut it into three identical pieces.

    JKJ

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Liebling View Post
    Michael: You're thinking spacers to give the headboard some distance from the struts? I can see that looking nice and it's definitely worth at least trying.
    Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking. You could make square spacers out of the same stock you make the struts out of. If it doesn't look good it would be easy enough to remove. It was just a thought to spur further ideas.

    I might consider 4 medium sized screws instead of a single big lag bolt a each connection point. This seems like it might be stronger and spread out the clamping load a bit? I am sure I don't have to remind you to pre-drill any screw holes. Just throwing some ideas out there to consider and pass on at your discretion.

    It you are going to go with welding I would consider cutting a V notch at the bend point about 2/3rds of the way through the stock. Bend it then weld it. A good welder will know to cut the V wider than the bend leaving a gap to fill with weld after the piece is bent. Just another thought to consider.
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 12-12-2021 at 7:46 PM.

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