How to Fix Broken, Splits, Bad Joints and Refurbish a Wooden Bed Frame

Fixing a broken bed frame can be a useful way to save some cash and a good way to spend an evening if you’re into fixing stuff and DIY home projects.

Even for our less handy readers, the process is pretty simple as long as you have the patience to follow through.

How to Fix Cracks & Splits in a Wooden Bed Frame

These are the most common problems with wooden bed frames and slats.

This happens when the bed frame does not have enough support, which is important considering the amount of pressure it’s exposed to every night.

Tools Needed: If you want to fix a cracked wooden bed frame, you’ll need the following items:

  • Glue manufactured specifically for wooden use;
  • Cloths;
  • A putty or a craft knife;
  • Wood clamps;
  • A piece of sandpaper;
  • Wood filler or putty.

Step 1: The first step is to remove the mattress from the bed, exposing the bed frame.

Remove any boxers or containers underneath the bed; you’ll need plenty of working space.

Step 2: Before proceeding, it is important to determine the size of the crack. In some cases, a small hole might need to be filled. If so, you can fill it with putty or wood filler.

Be careful when using wood filler, as it tends to shrink, so pack it tightly.

Don’t be afraid to go over the surface of the wood, so when the filler shrinks, it can perfectly cover the hole.

Step 3: If the crack is bigger, use wood glue. But before doing that, you have to ensure that the edges that are about to be glued together are clean.

This ensures you get results and avoid getting frustrated over loose ends that won’t stick together.

Grab the piece of sandpaper and start wiping the edges clean.

This way, you can also prevent air pockets from forming when putting the glue into the equation.

Step 4: When the edges are clean and smooth, it’s time to apply the glue. Many people use normal wood glue, but some prefer a much stronger adhesive, like epoxy.

You can use the putty knife to smear the glue over the entire surface or stuff it inside the crack.

Step 5: It’s time to use that wood clamp. Twist the clamp’s head until the glue starts oozing from the crack.

Step 6: Wipe out any excess glue using a cloth.

Step 7: Let the glue dry. This can take longer depending on the crack size, how much glue you’ve used, and how well the room is ventilated.

Step 8: Grab the sandpaper again when the glue is dried and remove any uneven surfaces.

How to Fix Bad Joints in a Wooden Bed Frame

Bad joints are a typical problem when dealing with antique beds. Mortise and tenon joints can loosen over time, so they must be reinforced or replaced.

To shed some light on the situation, a mortise and tenon joint typically connects two pieces of wood and was, for a long time, considered to be a simple and strong way of keeping two blocks together.

If you’re facing this problem, the easiest solution would be to reinforce these joints by replacing the metal brackets and reinforcing the joints.

To do this, you will need the following items:

  • Wood tape;
  • Scissors;
  • Drill;
  • Rubber mallet (if you don’t have one, you can use a hammer);
  • Wood glue;
  • Metal brackets (only if you plan on replacing the old ones).

Step 1: By using a drill, remove the screws keeping the metal brackets in place. These metal brackets are typically found on the mortise and tenon joints.

They are folded at a 90-degree angle, but remember that their presence is optional, so your bed might not have them.

Step 2: After having removed all the screws that keep the metal brackets in place and the metal brackets themselves, it’s time to reinforce the joints.

As we’ve mentioned, mortise and tenon joints are characterized by two blocks of wood, one with a part inserted in the other.

Once you’ve found these pieces, tap them apart with a hammer or a rubber mallet.

Only do this if they’re loose; there’s no point in breaking something functional.

Step 3: If there is any dried glue, use the chisel to scrape it up.

Step 4: Assuming you’ve removed the tenon from the mortise, it’s time to reinforce it.

After measuring the tenon, cut two pieces of wooden tape using scissors. Grab the glue and stick the wooden take to the tenon. This will make it thicker and prevent any wobbling.

If need be, you can add another piece of wood tape, but this time, place it on the other side of the tenon.

You should only do that if the joint is sloppy.

Step 5: Grab the glue again and add it to the receiving slot, where the tenon slides in.

Step 6: When you put the tenon back in place, use a rubber mallet or a hammer to pound the pieces together. Be careful when using excessive force; we don’t want more damage.

Step 7: Now it’s time to either return the old metal brackets or install a new pair. The process is the same, no matter what you choose.

You also have a choice of either drilling new holes for the screws or using the old holes and repositioning the brackets the same as they were before.

A fresh new pair of holes might be a better idea. Whatever the case, make sure you drill the screws in tightly to avoid any metal bracket movement.

How to Refurbish a Wooden Bed Frame

Sometimes, refurbishing the entire frame is the optimal solution in the long run.

But for this particular project, you’ll need a lot of patience and time, plus the following items:

  • Screwdrivers and wrenches;
  • Cloths;
  • Disinfectant;
  • Vinegar;
  • A clean bucket;
  • Wood filler;
  • Wood glue;
  • Sandpaper;
  • Electric sander.

Of course, not every item on the list above is mandatory, depending on how meticulous you want to be with this refurbishing process.

If you want to go all out, you can purchase wood paint, paint brushes, or whatever is needed to make your bed frame look brand new.

Step 1: Ensure you work in a well-ventilated and generously-lit room. Disassemble the bed frame to easily work with all parts individually.

Step 2: Before proceeding, it’s important to clean all the pieces of wood from any contaminants that may get stuck on the surface.

Grease, dust, or even bed bugs can contaminate your frame. If you suspect the latter, use disinfectant to clean the frame.

You can make a mixture of water and vinegar and wipe all the pieces of wood. Vinegar cleans the wood and removes unpleasant odors.

Step 3: Once you’ve disinfected and cleaned the wood, use wood putty or filler to remove any cracks or dents in the frame.

If any wooden parts have been severely damaged, you may need to replace them.

Step 4: You must also check all the joints and see if they are still fixed. To reinforce them, you can either add glue or add or replace the old screws and flimsy metal brackets. 

Ensure you leave the repaired sections overnight to dry off the glue.

Step 5: When these repairs have been made, it’s time to even out the surfaces. This can be done using sandpaper, which is useful if you plan to re-stain the wood.

An electric sander, however, is a much easier option, as it requires less brute force to achieve the best results.

Step 6: Once everything is sanded and smoothened, you can grab a clean cloth and wipe out any excess sanding dust.

Step 7 (optional): Some people repaint or stain their bed frame as part of refurbishing. If you plan to paint the wooden frame, apply thin primer coats.

When the primer is dry, you can apply paint, but in thinner coats. Those who want to stain their bed frames must purchase pre-stain conditioner.

Once the conditioner has dried, you can proceed to apply the stain.

Step 8: Once all repairs have been made and all pieces have been painted, it’s time to reassemble the bed frame.

If there are any rusted screws or metal brackets or whatever other piece of hardware, don’t try to reuse it, but replace it instead.


The best part of this tutorial is that pretty much any adult can fix a bed frame.

If you don’t have the required tools around the house (like a drill or a rubber mallet), maybe you can borrow them from a friend or a neighbor if you don’t want to spend money on a new item for yourself.

The important thing to remember is to work with patience and never try to fix things on the run: you might end up breaking them further.