Mount a Headboard With a French Cleat

I found a rustic queen headboard on free Craigslist. It has been wedged between my bed and the wall for several weeks which is not ideal; it thumps against the wall when I sit on the bed. It is time to mount it to the wall using a simple french cleat.

This project is great because it requires very little precision. The total cost is under $5 if you have access to tools.

Materials:

  1. 1x3 board
  2. Various screws

Tools:

  1. Table saw
  2. Miter saw
  3. Drill
  4. Stud finder
  5. Level
  6. Glue gun

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Step 1: Make a French Cleat

A french cleat is a simple way to secure items to a wall. It uses two angled pieces of wood and can either be removable or permanent. I made the cleat from a 1x3 board but other sizes would work too as long as they are not badly twisted or warped. Pick a board that fits between your headboard and the wall without too much gap.

Set the table saw angle to about 20 degrees and rip the board. I cut the boards in half to make two pairs of french cleats but one would suffice.

Step 2: Hang the Cleat

Measure the approximate height for the cleats on the headboard. Transfer the measurements to the wall. These measurements do not need to be accurate. There are a few tricks we will use to make it all work together.

The lower half of the cleat will attach to the wall and the upper half to the bed. The matching bevel gives the top half a place to rest that will hold it towards the wall. Exact placement is not important. The cleat allows the headboard to slide back and forth on the wall if needed. There are two things that do matter:

  1. The cleat must be level. If there are multiple cleats, they must be parallel.
  2. The cleats should be attached to studs if possible.

Start attaching the cleat on one side. It will hinge on the first screw. Use the level to position the other side of the board, then attach it too.

In my case, I want to hang a light on the wall over the bed. This means I need room for a power cable. I marked the cleats, took them off the wall, and then cut out a center portion before re-attaching them. The cut off portions then became the top part of the cleat.

Step 3: Attach the Cleat to the Headboard

There is a trick to attaching the top half of the cleat. Rather than measuring the position, we will use hot glue to temporarily hold the cleat in place and then attach it with screws. The hot glue is for placement only and will never hold the weight of the headboard.

Place the top half of the cleat in the groove of the lower. Squeeze hot glue on just the upper portion and press the headboard up against it. This will temporarily glue the cleat to the headboard. In a few moments, you can lift the headboard up and away from the wall. Attach the cleat with a few screws.

The cleat should hold the full weight of the headboard directly on the wall studs, making it very strong. You may want to have the headboard an inch off the ground when hot gluing to ensure it hangs rather than stands.

In my photos, I use an additional board to make the cleat thicker. If I had measured first, I could have avoided this by using a thicker board. I also repeated this step for a lower cleat to ensure the headboard does not wobble.

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