Picture of 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.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What you'll need.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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. ;)
davidbarcomb7 months ago

Simple and cool project. Thank you

Manny B3 years ago
Great idea. I'm always amazed by how beautiful recycling can be.
ttunstall3 years ago
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! =)
jessyratfink (author)  ttunstall3 years ago
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!
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! ^_^
sunshiine3 years ago
What an awesome idea! thanks for sharing your hard work and great talent!
prixprix4 years ago
This is gorgeous! I am definitely making this, thanks for posting it!
I love your quilt, btw!
I'm going to start on this project tomorrow after I go get some plywood, how many books did you use for this?
jessyratfink (author)  flyinggreenfurby4 years ago
Hmmm... 18? Definitely less than 20. :)
Goodhart5 years ago
I bet binder notebooks could be used for this too, with the rings removed maybe...
lozartist5 years ago
I like how the final piece matches your quilt.
kate-lily5 years ago
i love it. is the lamp on the table handmade?
jessyratfink (author)  kate-lily5 years ago
Nope, got it at Urban Outfitters a while back. :)
k80bakes5 years ago
i cant wait to try this in my room when we redecorate! how unique!
Lady Hanako5 years ago
this is probably the coolest thing ever.
zoozi5 years ago
Beautifully creative and colorful! Love it
Gjdj35 years ago
Very cool! I was just entering my project over at greenwala, and recognized yours from instructables so I voted for it. Nice job.
jessyratfink (author)  Gjdj35 years ago
Thanks for voting for me over there! I ended up in the top ten, but waaaaaay below the vote spammers. ;)
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!
Looking specifically at this, I just wish to be reassured know what exactly you use that ominous dungeon for, when not making headboards...
jessyratfink (author)  Spl1nt3rC3ll5 years ago
For baking pies!
... 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
jessyratfink (author)  Spl1nt3rC3ll5 years ago
Okay, okay, you got me. I wash clothes down there. Don't look at me like that, It's perfectly normal.
*Backs away very slow like.* :P
noahh5 years ago
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.)
jessyratfink (author)  noahh5 years ago
Haha, I've gotten over it after working with used books for so long. Seeing peed on ones still sucks, though. :P
Ermmm. (I don't know how someone could reply to that). :P
jessyratfink (author)  noahh5 years ago
Just stating the facts! :D
Creativeman5 years ago
Very nice project, but then you always do good work! Cman
jessyratfink (author)  Creativeman5 years ago
You're going to make my head big. :P
blackturtle5 years ago
This is stinkin' awesome! I think even my hubby would have this in our room! You're a genius!
jessyratfink (author)  blackturtle5 years ago
Awww geez. :D
Kathybear5 years ago
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....
jessyratfink (author)  Kathybear5 years ago
That's a really good idea! I know our local libraries and the local colleges always have books they're not using anymore. :)
whiteoakart5 years ago
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:
jessyratfink (author)  whiteoakart5 years ago
Oddly enough, I was wondering about making one of those! I want to learn grilling. So thanks for the link! :D
aimeee5 years ago
I love the concept and the colors you used! You totally thought outside of the box. So creative.
jessyratfink (author)  aimeee5 years ago
Thank you very much! :)
sherri2815 years ago
This is so great...I'm going to try this with more earthy tones...but i adore the colours in oyurs....
jessyratfink (author)  sherri2815 years ago
Thank you! :D
irrilia5 years ago
I love this! :)
klahoffman5 years ago
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...
jessyratfink (author)  klahoffman5 years ago
Yep! They were all standard publisher size books. :)
adidame5 years ago
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.
jessyratfink (author)  adidame5 years ago
I would love to see it!
thereader5 years ago
Looks like it'd make a cool table if you put glass on top.
trophywife5 years ago
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
colombine5 years ago
I love it! Great idea and beautiful colors!
nerdery5 years ago
i'd honestly just hang this up on any wall as art. it's rad.
jessyratfink (author)  nerdery5 years ago
Yeah, I'm thinking about doing a few more in different ways to put on the walls in the other rooms of the apartment. :D
I think this would be a great project for books that are unreadable--I bought a used book not too long ago that had about three pages torn out, right in the middle of the story! I should definitely save that book for future wall art now. Thanks for posting this!
LOL! I borrowed a new book recently from the library which had pages missing. Very disturbing to read along and suddenly the dialog makes no sense what so ever. I read it a couple of times and finally looked at the page numbers. It was missing about 20 pages. Flipping through it I found about 20 pages that were duplicated later in the book. I told the library worker about it and she was really happy that I said something. Two previous borrowers either hadn't found the problem or didn't report it. Good colorful instructable!
very nice idea! I can't bear the thought of tearing my books...... but i sure and rip out others' books ;-P
Have posted you on my blog.......
kyannik5 years ago
This is such an interesting idea. I love it! I usually am not a fan of projects that require destroying books but I see lots of upcycling possibilities with this one. Not sure if you know but this instructable has been featured on Apartment Therapy and it's kids site, Odeedoh.
jessyratfink (author)  kyannik5 years ago
I hadn't seen that yet! Thanks for letting me know. :D
adidame5 years ago
Clever! I will have to do this myself! Thanks for sharing your awesome idea!
eetzel5 years ago
I like this - I have bookshelves as my headboard but I may do this for the guest room
WOW great instructable! A+. Creative, relatively simple, looks great and its much cheaper than headboards these days. We were just about to buy a headboard. I have to convince them to do this instead! Great job.
jessyratfink (author)  illdoyourdrugs5 years ago
Definitely much cheaper. :) Plus, the customization is endless. You could even cut books into shapes or paint on them.
sojourn5 years ago I posted this on my blog Sojourn's Nest . Come visit me.
jessyratfink (author)  sojourn5 years ago
Thanks for spreading it around! :D
cheese105 years ago
This is a BRILLIANT idea. I mean, honestly, the possibilities are endless! Not only can you use different colors, but maybe different items as well. I would love to try this, thanks for the great instructable!
sojourn5 years ago
I like the headboard. I'm going to show it to my granddaughter, I'm hoping she'll want one because I would enjoy making this project.
yztay5 years ago
it looks great i was looking for an idea for my own headboard now i know what to try :)
smessud5 years ago
May be you could have made a headboard with bookshelves, and proper reading lights. Not as colourful though.
jessyratfink (author)  smessud5 years ago
Could have, but it would be too clunky and not as pretty. ;) My dad owned a trailer once with terrible built in headboard mirrors/bookshelves. Ugly as sin.
There's nothing like experience, especially in the family. I won't try it !!!
Sucasa5 years ago
Love it! And it looks reasonably do-able for newbie crafters... I'd like to feature it as a weekend project on on Nook, a modern home design & ideas blog.
jessyratfink (author)  Sucasa5 years ago
Yay! Thank you. :D
This deserves more views and you should add it to the cardboard contest since hard cover books are cardboard.
I entered just to see if it'll be accepted or not. I think it might be a little bit of a stretch, though. :)
This is wonderful! I'll be linking in this afternoon's Daily DIY.
jessyratfink (author)  OnePrettyThing5 years ago
Oh, thank you!
Browncoat5 years ago
Wow! Brilliant, pretty, & not crazy-expensive!
jessyratfink (author)  Browncoat5 years ago
Thanks! And I like your screenname! :D
Did you make your bed for this instructable or do you usually make it every morning?
jessyratfink (author)  Yerboogieman5 years ago
Oh, this was totally staged. :D I never make the bed.
ModrnHippe5 years ago
I am in love!! Our bed is missing a colorful headboard :)
Pancua5 years ago
This is awesome! Thank you!
Maureclaire5 years ago
Cute ! Looks great with that quilt, too !
omnibot5 years ago
Love it, must be easy to use with other stuff aswell.
ikssk5 years ago
Awsome You should be the first to enter the Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest
kelseymh5 years ago
Very nice! Looks like one of the more successful projects from Trading Spaces :-)
mg0930mg5 years ago
It looks phenomenal!
tarzioo5 years ago
that is seriously awesome!!
=SMART=5 years ago
Haha great idea ! It looks really nice :)