A canvas platform bed is comfortable. It offers more support than a rope bed and less rigidity than a wooden platform. Taking your rope bed frame, you use a hemmed canvas rectangle about 6" shorter than the inside measurement of the frame with grommets at intervals corresponding with the frame's rope holes. "Sew" the canvas into the frame with rope, it takes a bit less time than stringing the rope bed did. Your mattress of choice, air, futon, stuffed straw, featherbed, whatever. This is what we're taking next year, with regular king size mattress.From: (Jennifer Guy)

On beds- we built ours on the Osburg Ship bed design and love it, but then we have the slats covered by two futons (people at Pennsic have a tendency to toss out perfectly good futons if they've gotten wet- but driving them home 600 miles at 55mph on the roof dries them beautifully) topped by 3 feather beds. Ah, feather beds. If you haven't tried them- you don't know what you're missing!

But the trick to rope beds is don't skimp on the rope. Another thing there is always in the trash at Pennsic is rope bed frames. People make them with 6 or even 8 inch centers, and then toss them out. Don't try less than 4-5", and use 4" if you are heavy. Still, slat beds go together much faster for weekend events. Spruce slats have a good spring to them. (When my mother complained about my housekeeping, I told her I couldn't possibly make a bed more than once a year- I'd end up with too many beds! That usually diverted the discussion.) A daily tightening trick which works, although I don't know how old it is. On the outside of the bed between two of the holes carve a verticle notch, about 1/2" wide and 2-3" long. Get a really sturdy stick that rests neatly in that notch, and insert it under the rope that crosses it. Each morning you can give the stick a twist and let it sit back into it's notch, and that will take up a bit of slack, without disassembling the whole bed to tighten it.

We used to put our bed up inside our Dodge van behind the first wide seat, and stick all the chests under, and the bedding on top. Three kids rode in the seat, an infant seat was attached to the floor between the front seats, and the tent poles went on the roof rack. I loved that van. --Tchipakkan


No actually, I have something to say about the ubiquitous plastic bin. I know that one of the big reason that so many people prefer them to wooden chests which look better and are sturdier (so you can sit on them safely) is because they keep your stuff dry. Truth is, that when the ground gets wet, it does tend to soak into wood, and what's in the chest is then at risk. Two things- the first is feet. When we first looked at contemporary representations of medieval chests we assumed that maybe the reason so many of them seemed to have legs was that it made them easier to tie to a pack animal, or style, or it was easier to pick up if you were stiff... Nope. The feet keep the chests off the ground. You can have non footed chests indoors, but when camping feet REALLY help. There are many designs for feet, BUT, we run into the problem that we aren't tying to mule back, we are putting them into the backs of cars and trucks. If you don't want to lose the car space or to generate detachable feet, try this. Lay a couple of sections of 2x4s under the chests before you put them on the ground. Even that 2" will help a LOT.

Second- wood grain. Some patterns (we are very fond of viking chests in which the feet are part of the end pieces- while you can more easily get a piece of wood with the long grain going the "wrong way", it's worth your while to make sure the grain runs crosswize to the ground on the leg pieces. Be aware of course, that this will make it more easy for the legs to snap off if hit wrong- but, if the grain runs up and down rather than across, it sucks the water right up. Another learning experience- when you cut a notch in the bottom of the board to make the board end into two "legs", don't make it an easy two saw stroke V, get a brace and bit and round it. That's where you tend to stick your fingers when you are picking up the chest, and it can begin to hurt if there is any weight of gear in the chest at all!--Tchipakkan

A simple, period pattern is a 6-board chest. If you join it with dowels, and either some leather straps or steel 'strap' hinges, then it'll be pretty darn close to authentic.The benefits of the 6-board chest are:

1) It's real easy to make 2) It looks nice when it's done 3) You can make all sorts of different sizes without changing your methods. 4) It's very strong, and can be used as a stool or a bench

Here's a rough explanation of how it's put together:

Get a board. The board's width should be a little more than you want the interior height of the box to be, and its length should be about 6 times what you want the exterior width of the box to be.

Now, cut the board lengthwise so that you get 4 equal parts, and 2 parts that are equal to each other, but can be slightly longer or shorter than the other 4 pieces. So, a 10ft board would end up being 4 - 20 inch long pieces, and two pieces just under 20 inches (have to account for waste from the saw blade, especially if using a table saw blade with thick teeth), and the same width as the original board.

The 4 equal pieces are the lid, floor, front and back. The 2 remaining pieces are the left and right sides.

Now comes the part that takes more careful measuring. You have to cut 'notches' in the front and back pieces, then cut corresponding notches in the side pieces.

The side pieces are oriented width-side up, rather than length-side up like the front pieces. This allows the box to be held off the ground a few inches.

Now, about those notches. You're taking off a width of material equal to the thickness of the board. So, if your board is 3/4" thick, the short part of the notch's "L" shape is 3/4 inch long.

Be careful cutting the notches - measure twice, then measure again, then cut.

Now you can slap the thing together, kind of like a puzzle. Screw or dowel the boards together at the ends, attach the top with your hinges or straps, and then.. oh yeah, the bottom.

Right now your bottom piece is too long by twice the thickness of the board you're using (because the side pieces are now 'inset' by that amount due to the notches). So, cut that amount off the bottom piece. Now, you have another choice - you can either attach it the way it stands right now, or you can reduce its width by twice the wood's thickness as well, so it slides in place 'inside' the chest, rather than laying 'under'.

Whaichever way you go, attach that sucker securely, 'cause otherwise you'll drop something heavy in the box, hear a "crunch", and see everything spill out the bottom of the box.Oil finish the box, or paint it, or whatever you choose. Maybe drill two holes in each side and attach rope handles. You're now ready to store stuff.Have fun!In service,-Bill Schongar-- <

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