This consisted of a frame with a headboard, footboard and side rails, all held together by handmade bolts (as they all were in the early Federal era) that passed through the bedpost and engaged a nut implanted in the side rail.
As the bolt was tightened with a bed wrench, the post was held snugly to the side rail, and the periodic adjustments needed due to wood expansion and contraction were relatively simple compared with the contortions required for a rope bed.
With the advances in manufacturing techniques during ,the 19th century, the beds became more elaborate.
But rope beds are singularly uncomfortable, and the rope suspension must be periodically restrung to take up the slack generated by the stretching of the rope — thus leading to the origin of the phrase “sleep tight.” All in all, it was a cumbersome solution to the problem whose only virtue was its elevation off the critter-infested floor.
Another solution was the type of hardware and frame found in many late-18th century and early Federal-era beds.
The great advantage of the brass and iron beds, apart from their cheapness, was that they could be easily dismantled and great quantities were exported to the colonial markets.
The illustrated catalogues of the period show that the brass and iron bed was virtually a standard household possession until the late 1920s, and the designs show relatively little change over those made half a century before.