Even though we are complete laymen, we have a thing for industrial materials: the mysterious raw materials used by various industries that were traditionally off-limits to the public. Years ago, we learned that if we could find a source, we could buy them like anyone else. In those days, we used a Business-to-Business phone book to find zinc fabricators for an kitchen island top, or a guy to forge a table base out of steel angle irons. Recently, we had an adventure and lesson in the vast possibilities of rubber products (and made some big discoveries we didn’t expect).

When a mysterious vibration started shaking our bed, and us, awake at night, we started investigating a replacement for the mesh metal file crates the frame was perched on. We liked this rig because it allowed us to store all sorts of big flat files and art materials under the bed, and hide them neatly with a linen bedskirt. But the metal file crates amplified the vibration and a friend advised repacing them.

Canal Rubber street view

An exhaustive search online taught us the confusing basics of vibration dampening materials. It turns out there are all kinds of vibrations and hence very specific materils to deal with them, for sudden high impact shocks for exampe, or repeating shocks (ours).  So we called Marty at Canal Rubber a store that has been selling all manner of rubber products on Canal Street in New York City for 50 years. Marty said NO to the White FDA Nitrile Sheeting that seemed like a possibility because it was used in sneakers: it will AMPLIFY vibrations. He advised Open Cell Sponge Rubber, dense, black spongey stuff that comes in big rolls and 12-inch squares.

Sally Schneidefr
Sally Schneider

So we bought a bunch and hauled it home (it’s heavy). Then we cut it to fit the dimensions of the yoga blocks we’d ordered as bed legs, hoping that layering the rubber in bertween would dampen the vibration. We used our trusty Olfa utility knife and a T-square…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

…We removed the mesh metal file crates (freeing them up for closet storage)…


Bed fix 1 metal crates

…and replaced each with a stack of two jumbo black yoga blocks with our rubber slabs underneath and on top…

How did we lift the heavy steel bed frame (which was really our former Murphy Bed in hiding)? We ordered a $20 red Torin Scissor Jack that employs a simple crank to jack up loads up to 1.5 tons.

scissors jack

It would lift each side of the bed so we could place the blocks and pads exactly how we wanted them.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Our makeshift linen bed skirt hid the ugly rig…

Bed fix 3 dust ruffle

…out-of-sight, out-of-mind…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

…Then we went to sleep. Our solution lasted for a while, damping the vibration so much that we could barely feel it…until…the vibration got worse. We’re at it again, looking for a solution, this time with an acoustical engineer. Further research is making us wonder if we should have tried Sorbothane is a proprietary, visco-elastic polymer that’s supposed to be good to dampen vibration as are folded WASHCLOTHS!!

No loss though. In the process we discovered that inch-thick Open Cell Sponge Rubber works wonderfully in preventing leg-fatigue, the most common complaint of people who work at standing desks. Our friend tested it out, and worked for 12 hours with no leg aches. We NEVER would have found it out if we hadn’t had our bed problem.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

And the Torin Scissor Jack has come in handy for lifting all sorts of heavy things when we’re working one our own.

We LOVE industrial materials!!!

And if anybody has any brilliant ideas for our pesky apartment vibration, please let us know…


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