I want to have two tables at the same height over a column in this case to build a bed frame, but I guess this would apply to many other uses: enter image description here

I have to make some cut on the tables to screw them into the column, and I was wondering what is the best way to do this in order to maximize the strength of the structure.

This was my first idea: enter image description here

But I don't know if there is a more clever way of doing this.

Some additional information: The columns are 15x15x300cm The boards I'm not sure yet, but I think something like 200x15x2,4cm or if I can find something thicker maybe 3 or 4cm. I'm not really sure what kind of wood would it be, but probably pine. This is just going to be a base for a tatami like this: enter image description here

  • If those pieces are real wood (i.e., not plywood) then you also need to consider how that end-grain will move over time. (This is why you ought to tell us some basic info like type of wood you are using and the rough dimensions. You can edit your question and add this at any time.)
    – user5572
    Jul 20, 2021 at 16:59
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    Also, it's unclear what you mean by "tables". If this is a bed frame and the orientation of the rails is as we see here (i.e., flat planks much thinner than they are wide) then I don't think they are going to safely support any mass.
    – user5572
    Jul 20, 2021 at 17:03
  • Thankyou @jdv, I have added that information. I'm kind of new on working with wood. The term "table" was a mistake, is a false friend from my mother tongue I guess the right term is board.
    – nck
    Jul 20, 2021 at 17:08
  • @jdv, cross-grain dimension here is 15cm.... in freedom units that's almost dead on 6". If you were thinking movement issues they're, ah, unlikely at this width.
    – Graphus
    Jul 20, 2021 at 23:04
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    @nck, the use of tatami makes me think you will at least want to walk on these, and if so you need to completely redisign, because the proposed plan you have here just won't work the way you want. I don't want to under-stress this, what you've sketched here is hopelessly under-strength. You need to be designing much more along the lines of standard floor construction....
    – Graphus
    Jul 20, 2021 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


I think you might need to take a step back and revisit your design. My opinion is that the overall design is flawed even before you consider the joinery.

Your first step is to simulate what this bed might be like once you build it. Take an example of the rails (the pine boards) you intend to use and place it across two blocks, roughly the largest distance you expect to span.

Now, sit on the board and bounce up and down a little. I suspect you are going to get a lot of deflection, and maybe even some ominous splitting noises. Unless you use many legs so the spans are very short this is going to be a problem with any design using planks as load-bearing rails.

There are ways around this by using the wood how it is strongest (on edge, like a floor joist) and combining that with another piece to make an L-shaped rail. Obviously, there are many other ways to do this, like using metal, or putting the rails on a proper carcase (or frame).

I recommend looking at more bed designs and seeing what I mean. Even store-bought flat-pack furniture can give you lots of ideas.

To answer your question: if you fasten ordinary pine on edge like this, with the fasteners through the end grain at the ends, it'll split and tear out of the fasteners in a season or two. Ignoring the problems with the design, a half-lap across the feet to tie the structure together, along with fasteners that allow for grain movement might be better.

In fact, I wouldn't use fasteners through the rails/boards at all. I'd use the fasteners that are used to hold table-tops to the apron or legs, which are designed to allow the table-top to move with seasonal changes. Fasteners through pine like you show would also weaken the rails, and encourage any potential shakes (splits inside the board) to emerge.

  • Thank you, I will have to redesing and see more examples.
    – nck
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:43

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