How to Make a Barn Quilt Headboard

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About: I enjoy repurposing and restoring old furniture and making woodwork projects that are not seen every day. I make most of my projects using wood that is either, recycled,reclaimed and love to repurpose and re...

I was asked by my daughter if I could make her a couple of wooden headboards. She has just bought a new house and wanted all the rooms to look nice as we all do. He budget did not allow for her to buy beds for all 4 bedrooms so I volunteered to make her some. I had seen the barn quilt wall art on Pinterest and loved them, but I wanted to make mine as a headboard and make my own design. Being my first time, making one this big in hindsight was a bit ambitious and not without its faults. I made a headboard using old kitchen cupboard doors which turned out stunning and it was so easy to do. I thought this one would be the same.

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Step 1: Measure Out the Base

I started by measuring out a big piece of plywood for the base. Mine was 1900 mm x 900 mm x 12mm, using a pencil mark out your size. It is important to make sure your measurements are accurate or your design will not fit.

Step 2: Set Up Your Machines

This was not the most important step when making a barn quilt. All your equipment must be check and set to the correct setting. This was my biggest error when making this project. I did not check that the laser on the drop saw was set to zero, it was only after cutting lots of wood that I noticed. I got my son to set the laser correctly and then carried on cutting only to notice the laser was set to the wrong side of the blade. The laser was then changed again. So as you can imagine I now had a big mixture of wood that was cut at different "45-degree angles". So Check that your laser is set correctly before you start or you will end up with gaps as I did. This was not the end of the world but it was very disappointing, but I was into deep to start again.

Step 3: Cut Your Wood Stripes

I used scraps of 12 mm plywood for my pieces. I used an orbital sander and sanded them smooth first before cutting. Cut the plywood into strips of 50 mm wide, then start cutting the strips at a 45-degree angle. What I learnt from making this project is that you should cut all your wood at the same time so the setting on the table saw and drop saw are the same.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Shapes

I cut lots of wood the same size at first, but as long as the angles are all the same different lengths will all slot into place. It is a good idea to use a stop block so all your pieces are cut the same size. This was only a small amount of the blocks I cut. This step took me about 2 hours to do using the drop saw. Don't get lazy and try and cut 2 pieces of wood at once as I did, which resulted in a piece of flying wood just missing my face from a kickback.

Step 5: Divide the Headboard Into 8 Equal Parts

I divided my headboard into 8 blocks, then using a pencil I made a line from corner to corner and down the middle each way. This will help you keep the design straight. The idea behind this design was if I design one square first I would just duplicate the design for the other 7 squares. In theory, this would work great but because of the issue, I had with my laser I had to keep changing the design to try and cover up some of the gaps.

Step 6: Create Your Design

I used only basic shapes for this project like squares, triangles and parallelograms of different lengths. I spent the next few hours moving the design around to make it unique to me. I still changed it a few times after this picture was taken. Most barn quilt designs start with the arrows pointing to the centre like the painted one here. Then you just keep added shapes to fill in the gaps creating a design you like. Once you are happy with the layout, it is a good idea to take a photo so you know how it all fits together.

Step 7: Glue Your Centre Design

This is the basic design that goes along the length of the headboard. Using the lines as a guide glue the pieces down using a hot glue gun. I glued it in place then painted it with a paint roller which did not work so well. The paint filled in the gaps which did spoil the look a bit. I went back with a marker pen and added fake lines, which is the image above this one. Unfortunately, they must be painted before being glued down. I would imagine you would not have this issue using wood stain.

Step 8: Paint All the Pieces

Painting the pieces can be very time consuming doing them one by one, so I came up with this little hack to help. I glued the first 2 shapes in place in the "V" shape. Then slotted all the same pieces underneath them. You can add as many as you have a place for. Then glue the last 2 shapes in place which will hold them all down. Next, using a paint roller paint them all at the same time. This saved me hours of painting. Once dry release the glued pieces with a chisel to release them all.

Step 9: Paint and Glue the Design

Once I completed the 4 centre blocks I realised the issue with the different angles was too hard to fix. So I changed the 4 outer blocks to another design with less small pieces. You can see the issue with the gaps in this image. Lesson learnt!

Step 10: Straighten Up the Edges

Once all the pieces were glued in place it was time to cut away all the excess wood. It is a good idea to tape the edges to prevent the wood from splintering. Make a fence with a straight piece of wood clamped down to the headboard. The fence will keep your saw straight while cutting for a nice clean edge. Using a jigsaw or circular saw cut away the excess wood.

Step 11: Make a Frame

Cut some wood lengths to frame the headboard with a 10 mm hang over at the back. For a better cosmetic look, you can use a router to round the edges. The frame was glued onto the headboard and secured using a nail gun. I cut 2 lengths of wood the height of the headboard plus an extra 900 mm which was the height of the bed base and mattress. I added a strip of solid wood across the back of the headboard to stop it from bending. Because I used plywood when I lifted the headboard the weight made the base bow slightly. So maybe use thicker plywood or add the support as I did. This project did take me approximately 20 hours to make. But the delay was caused mainly by the angle issue with the drop saw. I honestly believe I could have made this over a weekend doing a few hours each day.

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    9 Discussions

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    AnitaH25Meglymoo87

    Reply 12 hours ago

    Thank you so much for the lovely comment, very kind of you to say πŸ‘πŸ˜

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    oldhag1981

    5 days ago

    FABULOUS! The work you put into this is intimidating. When it said, "Barn Quilt," I expected painted not an individually pieced MasterPiece! Wow!

    2 replies
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    AnitaH25oldhag1981

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thank you so much for the great feedback. It was hard going at times. She does need another one, but this one I did paint instead of the individual pieces. Too soon after this one to take tackle it again πŸ˜‚

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    oldhag1981AnitaH25

    Reply 5 days ago

    I had a similar idea A COUPLE YEARS AGO (no, I haven't done it) WOW! it is a beautiful and valuable piece. Lucky daughter.
    Stunning.

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    jessyratfink

    5 days ago

    Oh my that is stunning!! I absolutely love the greys you chose. :D

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    AnitaH25jessyratfink

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thank you so much, the colours were suppose to be blues to go with here bedding but it looked tacky. The greys turned out so pretty she is charging her bedding to grey. πŸ˜‚

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    jefflahay

    5 days ago

    Wow, that’s amazing! Similar to what oldhag1981 stated, I thought you made a simple frame and were modifying an actual handmade quilt to fit onto it. Bravo, a very ambitious woodworking project.

    1 reply
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    AnitaH25jefflahay

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thank you so much, it was very ambitious but it turn out good in the end.