Bed Bolts


The photo shows the three major threads used for bed bolts. The top two bolts are machine made on a lathe. The threads are cut using a V shaped cutter held in a carriage that travels along the lathe bed while the bolt is being rotated. Gears coordinated the speed of the travel with the rotation of the rotation of the bolt. The method for cutting precise threads was developed in 1797 in London. The top bed bolt is a modern bolt with Amreican standard thread. The second bolt is the old standard bed bolt, 3/8' diameter with 14 threads per inch. This is the type you can purchase from us.antique bed bolts with various threads

The three bolts lower in the photo were made using a die. A die is similar to a nut with a cutter or cutters placed in it. The die remains stationary while the bolt is rotated and forced into it. There was no thread standardization at the time and each blacksmith made his own dies. Compare the bottom bolt with the earliest bed bolt found in America.

During the 19th century 3/8" by 14 thread became the most common thread for bed bolts. Long after the 16 thread per inch standard was adopted, bed bolts continued to use 14 threads. We still carry the 3/8" by 14 thread bed bolt on our hardware page.


The two top bolts have upset heads. These are made by driving a die (mold) onto the heated end of the round bolt. Tremendous force is needed to upstet the iron and force it into the die.

The three lower bolts have forged heads with a washer swedged onto them. To make this type head the blacksmith hammers the heated bolt square then drives a washer onto the heated square. The earliest know American bed bolt was made using this technique.

bed bolt with screw cap headSeveral other type bed bolt head were also used. The screw cap head on the left used a large screwdriver blade to tighten it. It had the advanage of being low profile so it did not need to be counter sunk into the wood post.

The bolt on the right could be tightened with wrench, a screwdriver or a bed bolt with three way headmetal pin. The pin hole was a special adaptation for bolts that were located inside the bed rail with the nut in the post.



The Country Bed Shop
Dan Harju
328 Richardson Road
Ashby, MA 01431
(978) 386 - 7550