Introduction: Make a "new" Headboard From an "old" Window

Is your headboard getting squeaky and wobbly? Lucky you!  

Actually an old loose headboard is more than a little annoying, not to mention unattractive.  Clearly, you need something beautiful, homemade and recycled to impress your "friends".  This instructable will show you how to make a frame and panel design headboard with a minimal amount of effort.  This design is highly customizable to fit your particular bedframe and color preferences.  You can also customize what you put in the window frame (Plywood, Acrylic, ?).  If you want to get fancy you could create a light-box in the window frame or laser etch the panels.

The basic idea here is to find an old window and make a simple frame, glue it together and attach it to the bed.  No need for complicated joints or routers. Read on...

Step 1: You Will Need Some Things.

Parts and prices
1. One old window - sturdy, wood, approximately 18" x 60"x1.5". I purchased this at my local recycled building materials store.  Most large cities will have a similar store.  Don't worry if the glass is broken, you will remove it = $0-$20
2. Wood to frame this window. The type of wood is up to you.  I used 10 feet of 8/4 Ash = $50. If you used pine 2x4s or douglas fir this would be considerably cheaper.
3. Wood glue (I like Tite-Bond II) = $4 
4. Wood screws #6 x 3/4 (about 20 screws)= $5
5. Assorted steel wool (or wire brush) to remove old paint = $2
6. Plywood 1/4" thick 4x8 sheet. The final size will actually be the size of your window, exactly (this is the backing). This doesn't have to be pretty, just sturdy = $11
7. Plywood to fill the window panes (or other material, like acrylic) = $20
8. Spray paint (optional) $2
9. Bracket to attach the headboard to your frame.  You may already have one on your current frame or there are many types available (see picture for a few options) = $12 (optional)

total: $125 (about $100 if you use pine 2x4's)

1. Tablesaw or bandsaw- it would also be possible to use a circular saw or handsaw but this would be a bit cumbersome.
2. Clamps for glue-up
3. Electric screwdriver or drill
4. Tape measure

*you should have a current bedframe that could be bolted to this headboard.  
** I don't have a garage in San Francisco so I made this at the tech shop.

Step 2: Find an Old a Window!

Ok, this is the part to think ahead about details.  I hate measuring so I tried to design these instructions so you only have to take a few measurements.  

1. Pick your favorite attachment method (bracket or bolts).  There are many options for attaching your headboard and this will depend on your particular frame and preference.  I'll describe how to do the project using the Surface mounted keyhole brackets on an existing wooden frame.  If you choose a different bracket, adjust these plans accordingly.  This may also change the size of window you choose.

2. Measure the distance between your existing side rails and call this measurement (a).  Calculate (a)-2".  You are ready to pick out a window!  Try to get a used window between (a) and (a)-2" long.  My window was 60" long x 18.5" wide x 1.5" deep.  

3. Choose a window width based on how tall you want your headboard (and adjust these plans).  Choose a window that feels structurally strong and is made of wood.

4. Many old windows are about 1.5" think - this is perfect. Look for something less than 2" thick.

* I found my window here, in San Francisco:

Step 3: Wear Protection. Beautify.

1. Remove the glass.  This is usually done from one side of the window (let's call this the back).  There are often small nails holding trim in place around the glass.  Remove this trim and pull out the tiny nails.  Then remove the glass. 

2. Wear protection.  There might be lead in that paint so cover your lungs for this step.  Use steel wool or steel brush to remove loose paint.  You don't need to remove all of the paint.  If your window already looks pretty skip this.

3. Paint your window and let dry (obviously).  I used Black semi-gloss spray paint.  

Step 4: Cut and Sand.

Next, you will need to cut four pieces of wood to fit around your window.  I used a tablesaw for the straight cuts and a bandsaw for the taper.

1. If you are lucky, you will find a window that is exactly (a)-2" in length.  This means you don't need to cut little notches in your "sides".  If this is the case, just mill all your wood now and make the sides 2" x 2" x 40".

2. However, if you are like me and your window requires little notches in the sides (so that your brackets align with your sides), there is an easy way to do this without measuring.

Simply cut you're "sides" to 2" x 3" x 40".  Also cut your "bottom" 2" x 2" x (a)-2".  This "bottom" piece essentially sets the distance between your sides.  Lay out on a big table and make square (clamp to table if necessary).  Now lay your window on top and trace it to determine where to cut your notches. Check out the picture and this will make sense.

3. Cut notches. Cut a foot taper (optional). I used a bandsaw and tablesaw.

4. Cut the "top" piece equal to the length of your window.

5. Sand your wood.  Use increasing sandpaper grit #s 80, 120, 150.

6. Trace your window onto a piece of 1/4" plywood for the back if the headboard.  Cut, put aside for later and save some plywood scraps.

Step 5: Glue!

Do you remember your 1/4" plywood scraps that you saved in step 4?  Or did you ignore me?  At this point, chop some thin strips to use as spacers behind your window.  Place window on top of these when gluing up.

If you already know how to glue-up, skip this or you will be bored. Otherwise, read on.

1. Check that the edges of your window are free of paint, nails, and debris.  You could even run over them with a sanding block to make the edges nice. You are now ready to glue!

2. Do a mock glue-up.  Check that everything fits together and practice your technique.  You want to be able to get all clamps in place in 5-10 minutes.  Friends are helpful, here.  So are cauls.  Most of these clamps had nice little rubber feet that didn't dent my wood so I skipped a lot of cauls. 

3. Glue one piece at a time and clamp in place.  There are lots of tips I could give about gluing but let's be brief.  Use a  high quality wood glue and a glue brush.  Have some paper towels on hand for unexpected messes.  Try to find a flat surface to work on... but DON'T DO THIS ON YOUR MOM'S DINING ROOM TABLE!  Brush glue onto both wood surfaces (not just one).  Get everything clamped up in 5-10 minutes.  Wait 1 hour before you remove clamps (or check your glue bottle for drying times).

4. Go relax and daydream about quiet, pretty, homemade beds.

Step 6: Awesome. I'm Excited.

Your window is glued up and looking awesome.  

1. Flip it over and cut plywood pieces (or other material) to place in the window panes. Thickness depends on your window.  Window had an inset about 3/8" thick.

2. Insert your little squares. No need to glue (they can "float").

3. Grab your 1/4" plywood rectangle for the back, the same size as your window frame. Screw in place using your #6 x 3/4" wood screws.

Step 7: Finish Your Wood.

Use your favorite finish. I like Watco oil and a paste finishing wax, applied with an old cotton tee-shirt. This brings out the natural texture and colors of the wood with very little effort.  Beautiful.

Step 8: Add Your Brackets

There are many bracket optins and all install a bit differently.  I chose these because they are easily disassembled and don't require chiseling notches into my headboard.  Here is a picture of my setup.  I put wood glue on my screws so they are less likely to loosen over time.  

Install the headboard and you are done! Happy sleeping.
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