Introduction: A Pallet Wood Headboard

About: I'm a DIYer and creator likes to build, capture, and share my creations.

Now I normally make Youtube Videos on my builds, but this was before all of that, and only lived as an article on my blog. However, I loved this project and still appreciate it to this day, so I wanted to share my adventure and process with this making community!

BACKSTORY: We had been wanting a new bed for a long time - something that was less Ashley Furniture meh and something more in line with the style of our apartment. I had nearly everything tool-wise at this point to make something awesome, so cue the research, design, sourcing of materials, and construction!

Step 1: Gather Materials

We decided a pallet bed frame would be the coolest option. People say no to pallets, that they're unsafe. Yea - I hear you. But I have had this be a year and I'm still alive.

The wood is easy to source on craigslist, easy to clean if needed, and can be broken down rather quickly. I only sourced heat treated pallet wood, as chemically treated can be harmful to your health long term. I found five pallets on craigslist for $20 from one guy in relatively great shape. I'm sure I could have found free ones somewhere, but $20 is nothing and I'd rather find good ones that are cleaner and properly labeled to be safe...



Step 2: Break Down Your Pallets (And Break Down Your Body)

Breaking down pallets...can really suck!

It took me about 3.5 hours total to break down five of them, include cutting, ripping apart, removing nails, stacking, and cleaning. I found the best way to break them down is to run a circular saw along the edges of them, thus making it so you only need to rip off the pallet from the center nails. There were a shitload of nails in those things!

I was unbelievably sore after this for the next four days. My legs, back, and butt felt like I had been hit by a semi-truck.

Step 3: Purchase Lumber

Once I recovered the following weekend, I was off to Home Depot, a place where, if given free reign, would accidentally spend all of the money I have in the bank.

Refer to Step 1 for all of the materials in the photos above!

Step 4: Make Your Cuts / Build Your Frame

I built my bed to the dimensions of a queen bed.

I made the following cuts:

4 x 4's

  • 2 x 21"
  • 2 x 56"
  • 2 x 9"

2 x 4's

  • 1 x 83"
  • 4 x 58"
  • 4 x 32"
  • 4 x 13"

2 x 8's

  • 2 x 83"

2 x 2's

  • 2 x 80"

1 x 6's

  • 7 x 61" (which I then ripped in half to make 14 x 61" pieces)

Step 5: Frame Assembly

My go to for assembly is always pocket holes. They're wicked strong and incredibly easy to cut with the Kreg 5 Pocket Hole Jig and a semi-powerful drill.

For anyone unfamiliar with what a pocket hole is, it is a hole that is cut 15° into the wood that allows you to drill at an angle to attach wood. The length of screw is contingent on the thickness of the material. Regardless, they're super strong, faster than biscuit jointing/gluing/clamping, and they can be hidden underneath and behind projects so the connection looks clean.

Picture 1 shows how you cut them in the jig. Picture 2 shows freshly cut Pocket Holes

Front Bed Frame (Picture 3) is made from the following cuts (from previous step):

  • 4 x 4's: 2 x 21"
  • 2 x 4's: 4 x 13", 2 x 58"

Headboard (Picture 4) is made from the following cuts (from previous step):

  • 4 x 4's: 2 x 56"
  • 2 x 4's: 4 x 32", 2 x 58"

Step 6: (Re) Gather Pallet Wood

Remember these guys? Want to hear a funny story. I strained my neck and chest muscles by trying to carry them all at once down to my driveway. That felt awesome for the rest of the day and throughout the night...

The next step is a series of photos of me laying out the wood to the design I liked.

Step 7: Rip, Square Up, Lay Out, and Assemble

Here is how this went down:

Picture 1
Lay out pallet "look" I liked based on Variety

Picture 2
Rip one side of EVERY piece of wood to have a straight edge. If you have a straight edge / taper jig, this will make things more cleanly cut, faster, and above all, safer. I believe I ripped all of my wood to be about 3.25" wide. Next, you can move your table saw fence in to 3" (this is up to you how thick you want your pallets to be), and square up the OTHER side of EVERY piece so that you now have nice, equal 3" pieces with square edges

Picture 3
Lay out freshly squared up pallets again so you have it all ready to go to attach to your frames

Picture 4
Apply glue to all of your frame surfaces, and then one by one, lay out your wood onto the bed and secure using your brad nailer. Picture 5 shows the final headboard after the glue up. I chose to line everything up in the middle, but you can stagger if you want a different look.

Picture 6
Repeat the same process for your front bed board (I don't know what the name is for this haha)

Step 8: Square Up the Sides (Optional)

Then, I squared off the sides using my circular saw, a makeshift straight edge from whitewood, and clamps. If you want your headboard to not be as "clean", you can skip this step and have a more free form boarder.

Step 9: Cover Up Your Frame

Lastly, I added pieces to the front and sides of the legs and tops of each piece, and they were done! I sanded the fronts and edges of everything with my orbital sander w/ 60 grit paper, just to take the rough parts off. I didn't want to lose any of the color variances.

Step 10: Full Bed Frame Assembly

Next, time for final assembly in the bedroom.

I added a center support piece (Picture 2) that spanned the length of the bed and was attached on top of the bottom 2 x 4 of the front bed board. I used the following cut pieces:

  • 4 x 4's: 2 x 9"
  • 2 x 4's: 1 x 83"

To make the side framing supports (seen in Picture 3), I used the following cuts:

  • 2 x 8's: 2 x 83"
  • 2 x 2's: 2 x 80" (I attached these to the inside of the 2 x 8's with wood screws to serve as platforms for the horizontal slats
  • I found the hooks in Picture 1 on Amazon through a separate DIY blog that were recommended for DIY beds. They allow you to attach your outside supports to your two frames - and it is quite solid.

Picture 4 shows the seven whitewood slabs that I ripped in in half to make 14 x 3" all laid out and screwed down.

And then I was done!

Step 11: Enjoy Your Bed!

Next up for us are new curtains (cause the ones we have are just awful )and we are going to paint both our nightstands white and distress to fit the more rustic theme we have throughout the apartment.

Thanks for reading! This was a challenging project to assemble and build all in one day. That being said, I'm stoked at how it came out.

As stated before, I normally do build videos, but this was a project from last year I really wanted to share! Check out my new Youtube Channel for other projects!