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

Fixing a broken bed frame can be both 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 the less handy of our readers, the process is pretty simple, just as long as you have the patience to see it through.

How to Fix Cracks & Splits in a Wooden Bed Frame

These are the most common problems with both wooden bed frames and their slats. This happens when the bed frame does not have enough support, which is super 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. If there are any boxers or containers underneath the bed, remove them as well: you’ll need plenty of working space.

Step #2: Determining the size of the crack is important before moving forward. In some cases, there might just be a small hole that needs to be filled. If you’re dealing with a small hole, you can just fill it up with putty or wood filler. Be careful with using wood filler, as it has a tendency of shrinking, in which case you will need to 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, then you’ll need to use wood glue. But before doing that, you have to make sure that the edges that are about to be glued together are clean. This ensures that you get any 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. A lot of 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 you can stuff the glue inside the crack.

Step #5: Now it’s time to use that wood clamp. Make sure that the clamp’s head is twisted all the way, just until glue starts oozing out from the crack.

Step #6: Wipe out any excess glue by using a piece of cloth.

Step #7: Leave the glue to dry. Depending on the size of the crack, how much glue you’ve used and how well the room is ventilated, this can take longer time.

Step #8: When the glue is dried, grab the sandpaper again and smoother out any uneven surfaces.

How to Fix Bad Joints in a Wooden Bed Frame

Bad joints are typical problem when dealing with antique beds. Mortise and tenon joints can loosen over time, so they need to 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 joint. They are folded at a 90 degrees angle, but keep in mind that their presence is optional, so your bed might not have them at all.

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 before, mortise and tenon joints are characterized by two blocks of wood, one of them having a part that’s inserted in the other. Once you’ve found these pieces, use a hammer or a rubber mallet to tap them apart. Only do this if they’re loose; no point in breaking something that’s 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 having measured the tenon, cut two pieces of wooden tape using a pair of 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 really 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 the rubber mallet or the hammer to pound the pieces back together. Be careful with using excessive force; we don’t want any more damage.

Step #7: Now it’s time to either put back the old metal brackets or install a fresh 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 on 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, as it really depends how meticulous you want to be with this whole refurbishing process. If you want to take things all the way, you can even purchase wood paint, paint brushes or whatever is needed to make your bed frame look brand new.

Step #1: Make sure that you work in a well-ventilated and generously-lit room. Disassemble the bed frame so that you can easily work with all parts individually.

Step #2: Before taking thing any further, it’s important to clean all the pieces of wood from whatever contaminants get stuck on the surface. Typically, stuff like grease, dust or even bed bugs can contaminate your frame. If you suspect the latter, use disinfectant to clean the frame. You can create a mixture of water and vinegar and wipe all the pieces of wood. Aside from cleaning the wood, vinegar also removes any unpleasant odors.

Step #3: Once you’ve disinfected and cleaned the wood, use wood putty or filler to take care of any cracks or dents in the frame. If there are any wooden parts that have been severely damaged, you may need to replace them altogether.

Step #4: You will also need to check all the joints and see if they are still fixed in place. To reinforce them, you can either add glue or add or replace from of the old screws and flimsy metal brackets. Make sure that 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 by using sandpaper, which is also useful if you plan to re-stain the wood. An electric sander, however, is much easier option, as it requires less brute force to achieve the best results.

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

Step #7 (optional): As part of the refurbishing process, some people choose to repaint or stain their bed frame. If you plan to paint the wooden frame, you have to start off with applying thin coats of paint primer. When the primer is all dry, you can proceed to applying paint, but also in thinner coats. Those who want to stain their bed frames, will need to purchase some pre-stain conditioner. Once the conditioner has dried, you can proceed to applying 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 just replace it instead.


The best part of this whole 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 keep in mind is to work with patience and never try to fix things on the run: you might end up breaking them further.