Introduction: How to Make a Book Headboard

My apartment doesn't have much on the walls. I've always wanted a headboard. I love books.

Answer? Book headboard.

Step 1: What You'll Need.

  • a large assortment of book covers, carefully cut from the pages using an exacto knife or something similar. (These can be found at used book stores or thrift shops.)
  • Elmer's Glue-All or something similar - needs to be able to stick to wood and paper and dry strong and clear.
  • polyurethane spray for finishing.
  • pens or pencils for marking
  • something heavy to weigh the books down while they dry
  • 3M picture hanging strips for, well, hanging of course!
  • a large sheet of smooth plywood that's a 1/4 inch thick and as wide as your bed. Mine was 50 inches wide and around 30 tall.

Step 2: Start the First Layer.

This works best in layers going from the outside in. I decided to separate my covers by color and work with them that way.

I chose to do purples and blues for the outside layer. My books overlapped the edges of the plywood by about five to six inches in most places in order to fit them nice and snug around the edges.

As you can see in the pictures, I messed with them until I liked where they were, and then used a pen to trace along where their edges were. This way, once I started gluing, I could get them back where they needed to be.

To glue, I'd just lift up a book, apply a glue swirl to the wood inside the lines, and then place the book back where it needed to be. Make sure to apply pressure for 30 seconds to a minute afterward just to make sure it's set. You don't want them moving on you. Try to get the spines as flat as possible, too.

I started with one corner and worked my way around.

Once you have the outside done, you'll need to weigh the books down and let them for the recommended cure time. This will vary from glue to glue, but I watched an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman between layers and it worked just fine. ;)

Step 3: Middle of the First Layer.

Take two of the larger, uglier books (or ones that don't fit your color scheme as much as you'd hoped) and glue them down in the middle of the outer layer. Try to make sure the amount of space around them is pretty equal.

This will give your top layers something to adhere to and ensure that they'll be nice and level.

When gluing down the middle books, it works best to put the glue on the inside of the covers instead of on the wood. Better coverage, and no glue where you don't need it.

This is also a good time to check the outer layer and make sure all the books are secure and that the spines aren't sticking up. If they are, add more glue and weight! You can see that I had a couple of problem books, but I whipped them into shape.

Go watch another episode of Dr. Quinn and come back.

Step 4: Decide the Placement of Your Top Layers.

The goal here is to add a bit of depth and cover all of the gaps in the bottom layers.

I chose my prettiest covers for this, as well as the brightest ones.

I just sat down and played with them until I had what I wanted. I took a picture of the finished placement to see where they all went.

Now, start gluing down the bottom layers and working your way up. The more overlapping, the better. Let them cure between layers. (I did the large green, the maroon, and the pink as the bottom layer, then the left yellow and the blue/tan as the next layer, then the large yellow and finally the little green.)

This will require mulitple episodes of Dr. Quinn. Make sure to add weight during the dry time of every layer.

Once you're done, flip the whole thing over and add a ton of weight. Let it sit overnight. Now you're ready to seal it!

Step 5: Seal the Headboard.

This will make it easier to clean, less likely to fade, and waterproof it in just in case.

I took the headboard down to my dungeon (apartment basement, actually.) and gave it a few good coats of polyurethane with proper ventilation and safety measures, of course. Remember to follow directions. Most times you need to let it sit a little bit between coats.

You can see it has a bit of shine to it now!

Let this dry overnight as well. :)

Step 6: Hang It!

We used two packages of 3M medium picture hanging strips.

You could screw it into a wall, but my walls are quite crumbly and my boyfriend at the time was worried about putting large holes into them.

These things are pretty nifty. I've used them for all the photos in the living room with no problems. I'll keep everyone updated as to if it falls down or not. It seems VERY sturdy at this point. The headboard is about 6 or 7 pounds, I'd say - so I think we'll be fine. :D

Comments

author
Beverly Earnhart-Osborn made it! (author)2016-09-12

Just curious...what do you do with all the pages you tear out of the books? Thank you

author
davidbarcomb made it! (author)2014-11-30

Simple and cool project. Thank you

author
Manny B made it! (author)2012-06-19

Great idea. I'm always amazed by how beautiful recycling can be.

author
ttunstall made it! (author)2012-06-09

This is utterly amazing. I'm sure your apartment must be beautiful. :) I'm going to have to take a trip to Goodwill and stock up on some old books. I hope it turns out as nice as yours! =)

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-06-09

Awwww thanks! We're trying to make it beautiful again. :D

Good luck with yours! And try flea markets if you have any around too, they tend to have more of the prettier, older books for cheaper!

author
bettinasusca made it! (author)2012-03-08

This is so awesome! It's a pretty big task, but I think I'm gonna have to try it. Will post a photo if I do! ^_^

author
sunshiine made it! (author)2011-07-18

What an awesome idea! thanks for sharing your hard work and great talent!

author
prixprix made it! (author)2010-11-01

This is gorgeous! I am definitely making this, thanks for posting it!

author
lieslieslies made it! (author)2010-10-03

I love your quilt, btw!

author
flyinggreenfurby made it! (author)2010-07-14

I'm going to start on this project tomorrow after I go get some plywood, how many books did you use for this?

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2010-07-15

Hmmm... 18? Definitely less than 20. :)

author
Goodhart made it! (author)2010-06-10

I bet binder notebooks could be used for this too, with the rings removed maybe...

author
lozartist made it! (author)2010-04-16

I like how the final piece matches your quilt.

author
kate-lily made it! (author)2009-11-12

i love it. is the lamp on the table handmade?

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2010-01-11

Nope, got it at Urban Outfitters a while back. :)

author
k80bakes made it! (author)2009-11-27

i cant wait to try this in my room when we redecorate! how unique!

author
Lady Hanako made it! (author)2009-09-24

this is probably the coolest thing ever.

author
zoozi made it! (author)2009-09-15

Beautifully creative and colorful! Love it

author
Gjdj3 made it! (author)2009-07-23

Very cool! I was just entering my project over at greenwala, and recognized yours from instructables so I voted for it. Nice job.

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Thanks for voting for me over there! I ended up in the top ten, but waaaaaay below the vote spammers. ;)

author
seamster made it! (author)seamster2009-09-15

Ouch. (I hope that wasn't directed at me?) I really got a ton of votes on my submission, and I didn't tell anyone, not even my Mom! By the way, I REALLY like this idea. I hadn't looked at in detail till today--very nice!

author
Spl1nt3rC3ll made it! (author)2009-09-04

Looking specifically at this, I just wish to be reassured know what exactly you use that ominous dungeon for, when not making headboards...

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-04

For baking pies!

author
Spl1nt3rC3ll made it! (author)Spl1nt3rC3ll2009-09-04

... But I see no oven, kitchen, or other cooking appliance. >.>

Now you are really getting me worried. O.o

That basement photo is rather eerie, just what is your colorful headboard hiding... :P

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-04

Okay, okay, you got me. I wash clothes down there. Don't look at me like that, It's perfectly normal.

author
Spl1nt3rC3ll made it! (author)Spl1nt3rC3ll2009-09-05

*Backs away very slow like.* :P

author
noahh made it! (author)2009-07-17

Very nice, but it's a bit painful to look at books ripped apart. :P (I'm only sort of kidding. But really, it's very cool.)

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Haha, I've gotten over it after working with used books for so long. Seeing peed on ones still sucks, though. :P

author
noahh made it! (author)noahh2009-09-01

Ermmm. (I don't know how someone could reply to that). :P

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-02

Just stating the facts! :D

author
Creativeman made it! (author)2009-08-15

Very nice project, but then you always do good work! Cman

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

You're going to make my head big. :P

author
blackturtle made it! (author)2009-07-23

This is stinkin' awesome! I think even my hubby would have this in our room! You're a genius!

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Awww geez. :D

author
Kathybear made it! (author)2009-07-23

Check with your local library and see if they have books that they'll be weeding out of the collection. Our recycling will take the pages, but the covers have to be stripped off first. If you volunteer to strip the books and take the covers, you might be in good with the library director, who will save a few library dollars by getting rid of the covers. Just a bit of advice from a public library employee....

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

That's a really good idea! I know our local libraries and the local colleges always have books they're not using anymore. :)

author
whiteoakart made it! (author)2009-07-23

Nice job. Simple and effective. Every so often I run into books at garage sales that are in bad shape: bindings broken, pages torn. Now I may start collecting them.

Save the pages to start your BBQ fire without lighter fluid by using a little chimney, like this one:
https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Charcoal-Chimney/

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Oddly enough, I was wondering about making one of those! I want to learn grilling. So thanks for the link! :D

author
aimeee made it! (author)2009-07-17

I love the concept and the colors you used! You totally thought outside of the box. So creative.

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Thank you very much! :)

author
sherri281 made it! (author)2009-07-17

This is so great...I'm going to try this with more earthy tones...but i adore the colours in oyurs....

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-09-01

Thank you! :D

author
irrilia made it! (author)2009-08-25

I love this! :)

author
klahoffman made it! (author)2009-08-14

Were the covers in the bottom layer all the same trim size? I can't quite tell, but it looks like that might be the case...

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-08-14

Yep! They were all standard publisher size books. :)

author
adidame made it! (author)2009-08-05

Done. Mine looks awesome! I did a 5ft X 4ft for a queen bed and hung it with two rings on the back and two 50 lb picture hangers. Thanks for making my bedroom phenomenal! I can post a picture when I get my boyfriends camera back.

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2009-08-05

I would love to see it!

author
thereader made it! (author)2009-07-28

Looks like it'd make a cool table if you put glass on top.

author
trophywife made it! (author)2009-07-25

FINALLY!!! something to do with the books i collected just 'cause they were pretty on the bookshelf, and were only good for one rainy day

author
colombine made it! (author)2009-07-25

I love it! Great idea and beautiful colors!

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Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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