How to Make a Book Headboard




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

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

Finalist in the
Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest



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    94 Discussions

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

    Manny B

    6 years ago on Introduction

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


    6 years ago on Step 6

    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! =)

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 6

    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!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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! ^_^


    7 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Step 6

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


    9 years ago on Step 6

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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Beautifully creative and colorful! Love it


    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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