Introduction: Headboard From Wooden Pallets

Picture of Headboard From Wooden Pallets

A few things the reader should know:

This is my first Instructable.

I am pretty much learning as I go with wood working which is why, along with the pleasing aesthetics, I began using reclaimed wood from old pallets.

I will welcome any constructive comments that will help me better my skills.

Parts you will need:

About 2 wooden pallets worth of wood (I called around to lawn and garden stores and factories in the area to find my wooden pallets.  Most places are happy to part with a few)

Preferred color of wood stain (I used Miniwax Golden Oak)


Screws (dependent on the thickness of your wood)

4" Bolts

Black latex paint (optional)

Light fixture (optional)

Black Spray Paint (optional)

Tools You will need:

Circular Saw

Reciprocating Saw (optional but will make things easier)


Electric Sander (also optional but will make things easier)

Step 1: Get Some Reclaimed Wood and Supplies

Picture of Get Some Reclaimed Wood and Supplies

After disassembling the pallets (by hand at first until I bought a reciprocating saw which made it much easier) I laid the wood out to get a general idea of how much space I could cover.  For my bed it had to start two feet off the ground and be about 4' by 3'.

Step 2: Cutting and Sanding (lots of Sanding)

Picture of Cutting and Sanding (lots of Sanding)

After sketching out the shape on paper and figuring out the dimensions it was time to cut the wood and sand it.  Once the wood was cut and smooth I began to assemble it into it's final shape.  I have limited space and had to construct it in my driveway which meant I had to move the wood when not working on it.  To remember where each piece went I numbered them with pencil on the back.

Step 3: Screwing It Together

Picture of Screwing It Together

As I said I'm not the most experienced wood worker and have been learning as I go.  I thought about how to attach all the wood and decided to use four boards cut just under the height of the headboard to screw to the back.  This worked well and ended up being pretty sturdy too.

Step 4: Staining, Painting, and Applying Polyurethane

Picture of Staining, Painting, and Applying Polyurethane

Now that it is all put together I applied the stain (Miniwax Golden Oak), sketched and painted the design (with black latex paint) and applied two coats of Miniwax Gloss Polyurethane (sanding in between the first and second coat of gloss). 

Step 5: Adding the Light Fixture

Picture of Adding the Light Fixture

I thought it would be cool to have a reading light for the headboard so I purchased a light fixture. After salvaging an inline switch and cord from an old Halloween decoration, I wired it to the lamp fixture.(Note: the neutral wire in the cord is the one with a slight ridge to it).

Step 6: Attach the Legs and Enjoy!

Picture of Attach the Legs and Enjoy!

I wasn't exactly sure how to attach the legs but after walking around the nuts and bolts aisle long enough I found some heavy duty 4" bolts with rounded heads.  After spray painting the heads black (to match the nails, design, and fixture), I drilled two holes per each leg (matching them to holes drilled in the headboard) and bolted it together.

I'm pretty happy with the end result, especially since I learned as I went.  Hope you like it and feel free to let me know what you think.


summerof48 (author)2016-09-23

Why isn't the back shown. It would help tremendously or is that part of the premium download?

darrenmparr (author)summerof482017-11-28

This was also my observation as I read the tutorial. I agree with summerof48; could we have an image of the rear too, please? Great intstructable all the same and a fantastic end result, well done.

lifenovice (author)2015-12-29

Love it! You give novices hope!

ericmorrissey made it! (author)2015-10-04

I actually adjusted the design to make it fit our film studio and it worked great! Took less than 2 hours start to finish. The most tedious part was sawing through the nails on those darn pallets.

CJSchecter96 made it! (author)2015-05-07

Nice job. I Made one and it was pretty simple. I don't have the height set yet because I don't have the final be frame yet but the build process was simple enough.

rustrocket84 made it! (author)2014-08-13

Pretty easy to do. My belt sander, random orbit sander, and jig saw were great for this. Used my miter saw on all the ends just to have some square ends in the middle. I used 4 long pallet boards for supports on the back that I will attach to my bed frame that will get done tomorrow. Used Rustoleum Dark Cherry stain. Easy to appy and covers great with single coat.

tkotlarz (author)2014-06-13

well done! Love the look! Thanks for sharing!

prewdaddy (author)2014-02-12

Very nice! I think I'm gonna have to try this one.

SirPhobos15 (author)2014-01-29

awesome job on this. I enjoy seeing stuff made from shipping pallets .....and enjoy making stuff from them as well. keep it up and hope to see more from you.

DIY Dave (author)2013-12-06

That's awesome, I really like the light built into the headboard

DIY Dave (author)2013-12-06

That's awesome, I really like the light built into the headboard

cainn (author)2013-10-01

Looks amazing!! Something like this would look awesome just hanging on a wall as a piece of art!!

PaleoDan (author)2013-09-24

Liked this so much, I made my own. I got some (free) scrap cedar baseboard trim, an old outdoor light that I spray painted and some stencils along with a little left over stain and here you have it...

Thanks for the inspiration.

Gates1954 (author)2013-09-18

This is pretty cool! I'm looking to make a headboard for my queen size bed, but I'm thinking I want a shelved headboard. This may work, just put a frame around it and add some shelves! Thanks for the instructable!

jackOrip (author)2013-09-16

awwww. I was making this very Instructable and you beat me to it! haha Since I had no idea what to stain it with, I kept putting it off. Thanks for giving me the exact brand name and color because that is EXACTLY the look I was going for. I even have a silhouetted tree painted on the bedroom wall that matches your painting. If I didn't know better, I would ask my wife how you got in our bedroom. LOL. Great first Instructable!!!! Keep it up.

dedosplendido (author)2013-09-14

Absolutely gorgeous! I've been looking around for an idea to make my own and I just found it. Thanks so much!!!

Adam Beaver (author)2013-09-13

Stunning and inspiring design! This is the best I've ever seen pallet wood treated for interior, since it's all too often installed as-is -- straight from the pallet. That can look pretty gross...
Great work!

sosclosetsandfurniture (author)2013-09-13

Looks great! The head board turned out really nice! I've done a couple of headboards before. An option is to skip the legs and mount it directly to the wall behind the bed.

zomfibame (author)2013-09-13

I've done a number of odd little projects with pallets, but I never thought of this. very nice.

kminer49er (author)2013-09-13

Great first Instructable! The design and accent elements really add to it's appeal.

KOJohnson (author)2013-09-13

Again, be VERY careful with pallets! Most are impregnated with pesticides, many with arsenic compounds--remember, not all are made in the United States. Besides, you never know where the pallets have been, what they've been immersed in, what leaked onto them. You may have noticed that you can't get Tylenol any more--because it was being shipped on toxic pallets. It's best to get your lumber from some other source that you're sure of. Sealant or no sealant, I would never sleep every night with my head a few inches from pallet lumber!

kminer49er (author)KOJohnson2013-09-13

Actually, most pallets are not treated with pesticides or arsenic compounds. That may have been the case many years ago, but in 2001 the EPA abolished the use of arsenic in the treatment of soft-wood pallets. Oak or other hardwood pallets used for domestic shipments are not treated. After 2006, most international shipments use heat-treated pallets, so pallets coming in containerized shipments do not contain toxic pallets. Over a thousand pallets a day pass through my business from both domestic and foreign sources and I have over 24,000 pallets used to store product in my racks and none were treated with pesticide. Yes, there will be some old pallets out there that were made before the ban even though the average life of a shipping pallet is less than two years. But it is very easy to determine if you have a 'safe' pallet. There will be a stamp, in black ink, on side or end of the pallet with the letters "HT" for 'heat treated.' There are some pallets out there that were treated with methyl bromide, a particularly nasty chemical, but they will have the letters "MB" stamped on the side. Leave these alone but I haven'e seen any of these in years.

PaleoDan (author)2013-09-13

Really like what you did here - great job!

kaladar (author)2013-09-12

Looks amazing! I'd be interested to see a shot from the back too, please.

Madrigorne (author)kaladar2013-09-13

I would also like a shot of this all set up with the bed too, please. I am loving this instructable.

gumper1 (author)2013-09-12

Good job! As previously mentioned....
A shot of the back of the headboard assembled would be nice.

buttermere4 (author)2013-09-12

Great looks really professional -- I will copy this but make one for a King Size Swedish bed I think and will add maybe 2 lights - thanks for the lovely idea.

Just wondering about the sanding -- did you have to do it all with an electric sander? I assume you went down in grades?

JB :)

buttermere4 (author)buttermere42013-09-12

Also was just thinking maybe I would try to make curves at each of the ends so as to avoid any 'sharper' corners.

infantemary (author)2013-09-12

Wow!! Great job! I really like the look. Learning as you go is the best way, I think. You learn all the tricks that the "pros" tell you can't be done!!

Oscelot (author)2013-09-12

Awesome instructable. My only suggestion would be that it needs more detail on the support structure and the legs. Even just a photo would help. Can't wait to see more instructables from you!

bwallace5 (author)2013-09-12

Neat project but with deep respect, A note of CAUTION! Using salvaged wood from industrial pallets is not too healthy. The pallets are soaked with chemical to ward off insects for years, NOT too good to breath air coming off the wood. User may contain the chems to the wood by coating with it with a sealer and varnish. Do not breath the saw dust. Keep children from touching the wood. Best to keep this reclaimed wood on the outside of the home.

John Sphar (author)bwallace52013-09-12

Additionally, the companies who use the pallets often spill even worse chemicals on them. I speak from experience of someone who was in manufacturing for 25 years. I would not use a pallet, unless I knew exactly what it had been used for and where it came from

bwallace5 (author)John Sphar2013-09-12

John, very good point. I know my company use to send all the returned plastic re-useable pallets thru a special dish-washer just because of not knowing what was spilled.

astack229 (author)2013-09-12

Love it! Great job!

adbkwhitley (author)2013-09-12

LOVE the look!! Well done.

Cheese Queen (author)2013-09-12

I love your "Nightmare before Christmas" tree limb graphic. Makes your charmingly rustic headboard a stand-out!

msteers (author)2013-09-12

This is awesome. Definitly going to give this one a shot.
I'm thinking I'm going to add some of the boards sideways for small shelves and possibly throw in a couple USB ports for phone/tablet chargers too!

Cheese Queen (author)msteers2013-09-12

Treated wood pallets are so marked, in my experience. Very few in this area treated- the vast majority are just raw wood.

Phiske (author)2013-09-12

Love it! I always love asymmetrical wood work. And using reclaimed wood is always a plus.

DavidM45 (author)2013-09-12

Great Job! Brilliant Design!

someone should try one with wine barrel stays run vertical, I'd love to see that.
thx David

canida (author)2013-09-12

This is beautiful!

I love the idea of attaching things directly to the headboard, too. Looks great!

bakunin (author)2013-09-12

Spoooky! I love it.

David Catriel (author)2013-09-12

Very nicely done! Thx for sharing.

drook75 (author)2013-09-12

This is awesome. I want to do one just like this, but without the light and with an original art design. Your design is great. This is a very organic looking piece and would look great in our bedroom. My wife would love it, and I would love making it! Thanks for the great idea! I also have recently started woodworking. My father in law bought a second hand table saw which helps a lot. So far I've built a bookshelf, matching nightstands for my wife and I, and am now working on a linen closet. When that's done, this is next on the list!

tomstearns (author)2013-09-11

Wow! This is a fantastic idea!

antioch (author)tomstearns2013-09-11


AmateurHour (author)2013-09-11

Thanks for all the support and positive comments! I've been busy with a few other projects but I will try to upload some pictures of the back of the headboard. For those who are curious about their placement I positioned them vertically behind the board. I tried to place them where the sides of the boards came together and then one where each leg would go.

jbrooks22 (author)2013-09-11

What mmama said: can we see the back? I know you said 4 boards on the back but did you add them horizontally or vertically? I'm gonna have to have my son do this for me 'cause I'm disabled and I'm trying to come up with questions he might have. I LOVE this and how you added the graphic. The light fixture was brilliant and something I'll need since I do a lot in bed. Thanks and GREAT JOB!

The Rambler (author)2013-09-11

This is awesome! The curvy top adds so much to the overall shape of the piece and I love the added touches with the lamp and the swirly detail. It looks like the branches/vines are growing towards the light. Keep up the good work!

yellowcatt (author)2013-09-11

I need a new head board for the bed in the guest room and something like this would look good.

About This Instructable




Bio: To see more of my work, be it wood, painting, or other stuff, find me on Instagram at AMATEURHOUR87.
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