How to Build a Bed

Readers of “Penina’s Letters” may recall Salty talking about sleep. In the short excerpt below, he would have us believe he can sleep anywhere, anyhow:

But one thing I had learned in the Army was the useful skill of how to sleep. I had written Penina I could now sleep in private or in public, in a bed or on a floor, with blankets, in a bag, fully dressed including boots or naked, amid noise or in silence, in the dark or under a light, stomach full or hungry, head to toe or hanging upside-down from a chandelier. I could sleep under water if ordered to. But what I wanted now was to curl to sleep with Penina. I didn’t know I’d soon be sleeping with Penina head to toe.

We awoke uncombed, our sleep disturbed, disrobed and distraught, un-wombed. We climbed downstairs. All the beds upstairs. Why not a bed in every room? Where the cats make their beds, now here, now there, anywhere.

Joyce’s Bloom’s bed is built with springs, like the spring, in Bloom’s description, used in a ring toss game. When did you last quoit?

No. She [Molly] didn’t want anything. He [Bloom] heard then a warm heavy sigh, softer, as she turned over and the loose brass quoits of the bedstead jingled. Must get those settled really.

Beds can be awfully noisy at times.

We used to make tables, desks, beds using the same, simple, two-by-four construction design. A 2X4 frame supports a slatted or plywood top. Tools needed: hand saw, hammer, and nails. Nails allow for quicker assembly, but screws allow for easier deconstruction – so add a screwdriver. Parts needed: 2X4’s, plywood, or slats, nails, screws. Sandpaper for very rough spots, but this is not cabinetry work, not furniture, but practical and economical and time-efficient. The pieces are made to easily deconstruct, an important feature in our nomadic days.

I made a futon frame bed this weekend. I made the base, or platform, in two parts, so easier to move up or down stairs, around corners, easily strapped to the roof of a car.

The wood used was purchased years ago, having previously been used in the making of an extra long twin bed, and a desk with bookshelves installed against a wall (not so nomadic, that project). I’m not sure what the wood cost new would be today, and it’s possible that you might be able to pick up a frame unit lighter and cheaper at IKEA or some such store. If so, the utility of this bed construction design is already disappearing, like newspapers. But there are several deconstruction and recycling stores in our area where one can pick up used wood materials cheaply – as well as used tools, nails, and screws.

Note that with a futon mattress, no box springs are needed (the lower mattress in the common, two mattress bed set). And the futon itself is much simpler than the standard mattress: it’s made of cotton, can be rolled up, smells delicious, conforms to your body’s sleep design. The futon also can be deconstructed, though it should last a very long time.

The wood may be hand-rubbed with coconut oil to soften, protect and preserve, and add a flavorful scent to the bedroom digs.


  1. bristlehound says:

    Always liked the expression “Going to bed”.
    We don’t necessarily say “Going to table” or ” Going to bus) unless we are English.
    Sleep is a wonderful thing and one of the great social accomplishments.
    Most of us, sleep at the same time as our country people. This is a general shut down of movement and working ( exceptions of course). It allows for peace and re-building of energies. A great achievement.
    Off for a nap now Joe.B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Going to think about sleep as a social accomplishment and an achievement. But my first thought is yes, right on – where there is sleep deprivation (whatever the reason) there is social unrest. Very interesting, B.


  2. johndockus says:

    This is great: “We awoke uncombed, our sleep disturbed, disrobed and distraught, un-wombed. “ I really love that. Un-wombed is the damn truth after a night of twisting and turning. One goes fishing and comes up empty, oneself caught in the net. Sleep deprivation can lead to desperate and even reckless behavior. It’s not for nothing that it’s used as an interrogation technique.

    I wish I was able to sleep deeply and in all places. Sometimes I have bouts of insomnia. As I’ve gotten older the nap has become important to me. I’m amazed at how replenished I can be after just a ten minute nap.

    I came across this a while ago:

    Leonardo Da Vinci

    “The Renaissance man reputedly slept almost exclusively in power naps: 15-minute siestas every four hours, equaling a shockingly low total of 1.5 hours a day. While we can’t be sure he actually slept this way, research has proved it could be possible. Claudio Stampi, a sleep researcher, found that the catnap sleep schedule is possible to follow, but not for long. Da Vinci most likely could not have slept this way for more than two months, or he would not have been the scientist, mathematician, and artist we know him as today.”


    1. Joe Linker says:

      The short nap works wonders. Also walking, getting the body and brain moving at the same speed. In sleep, something gets unlocked, un-clutched, or slips out of gear, the mind spinning on, the body still. A special music or sound sometimes enables sleep, sometimes prevents it. There’s probably no rote formula, but a lot of factors at play. Speaking of play, did you see how many “beds” were in that sentence you quoted?


      1. johndockus says:

        …cot, hammock, sleeping bag, futon, adjustable bed, air bed, bassinet, box-bed, brass bed, bunk bed, loft bed, camp bed, canopy bed, daybed, four poster bed, hospital bed, infant bed, iron bed, Murphy bed, Ottoman bed, pallet, platform bed, rollaway bed, rope bed, sofabed, state bed, toddler bed, trundle bed, vibrating bed, waterbed…

        And let’s not forget the tub and some say barrel Diogenes the Cynic slept in, and the no doubt fabled oven Descartes slept in and had his great awakening in.


        1. Joe Linker says:

          With that methinks thou hast put the subject to bed!


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