I have been in need of a headboard for some time and have decided to create a rustic red oak headboard. Your materials might vary somewhat from my own or your means of working with the materials might vary as well. My designs are drawn for a queen size bed but with some alterations, you can make them work for your needs.
I am limited to working space and equipment. Which doesn’t mean that you have to be as well. The materials I have chosen to work with are similar to others that I have worked with in the past. The first thing I like to do when working on a project is to develop some sort of working plan. This can be something as simple as jotting down notes on a piece of paper or drawing up a schematic on CAD software. I tend to use a free software from Google called SketchUp. This software allows me to input real-world measurements into a design and see how an item might look prior to creating it. This helps cut down the possible waste of materials or trial and error trying to see how things will work together.
Once you have finalized your design or have an idea of what you want to build now is the time to gather your materials with what you are capable of working with. As I previously stated I created my headboard out of Red Oak. I chose this material for a number of reasons, the grain of the material, the hardness of the material (this can be viewed from the Janka Rating), and the availability of the material.
When processing the materials I was limited by my tool availability and my working space. I live in an apartment complex so working with most power tools is be frowned upon. In the cases that I did use some power equipment, I went to an outside location where I would not disturb neighbors. Like me, you may also be limited to tools or working space so find something that works best for you. The material you use is all up to you. The harder the material the more abuse it can take without showing it. A poplar or white pine will show a scrape or a scuff more pronounced than an oak or maple. The means that you join the materials don’t have to specifically follow what I did as well. This is only limited to your tools and equipment availability. I use a Kreg Jig when affixing my materials together since that’s what works best for me and that is what I have available to me. You can use glue, brackets, dowels, to affix your materials. This is only limited to your abilities and tool availability. Now let's get into it!
Lumber - Red Oak (or your preferred lumber)
Screws - 1½ fine thread Kreg wood screws (Note: dowels and or nails maybe used.)
Wood Stain - Early American - Minwax (Note: complete finish in preferred method.)
Polyurethane - Clear Semi-Gloss - Minwax
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Step 1: Tools
Hand saws and Circular Saw
Drill with corresponding bits and or drivers Kreg Jig
Router with ¾" dado router bit and ¾" radius round-over bit
¾" chisel Various clamps
Various grits of Sandpaper and rotary sander
Tape measure and Square
Step 2: Planning
- Measure the bed frame. - 54" My final measurement for this will be 59" so the headboard sticks out beyond the edges of the bed.
- Determine the desired height for the headboard. - 4'
- Take measurements into SketchUp and layout project. Exact measurements are able to be used.
- Design the desired project.
Step 3: Gather Material
- Take measurements from SketchUp and determine the lumber required to build the headboard.
- Select wood grain that works well together and as free of defects as possible.
- Required lumber 6x 1”x6”x6’ for the backboard, 2x 4”x4”x4’ for the legs, 1x 1”x4”x6’ for the top trim, and 1x 1”x2”x6’ for rear support.
- Required screw for material per Kreg Jig for 1"x material is 1¼", but with how I had my jig set up I ended up using a screw 1 ½".
- Wood glue will be used to assist with holding abutting wood together.
Step 4: Process Lumber
(Note: Do not cut lumber until absolutely sure of final dimensions. You can take away, but it is always harder to add.)
- Layout lumbers in the desired location and determine best grain orientation.
- Plain or sand edges smooth so that no large gaps are present between abutting boards.
Step 5: Build Backboard
- Determine the layout of the backboards.
- Use Kreg Jig to evenly drill out holes every 6"s along the backside top edge of the backboard. (As seen in the first photo.)
- Drill holes on the back bottom edge of this board every 12"s (As seen in the first photo.)
- Drill holes on the backside of the remaining boards for the backboard every 12"s. Ensure that these holes are offset of the abutting board by 6"s. (As seen in the first photo.)
- Apply glue to each of the abutting joints ensure complete coverage of the glued edges.
- (Note: excess glue will be squeezed out while being clamped together. Best to clean up prior to drying with a wet sponge.)
- Clamp up two abutting boards, ensure edges and ends are as even as possible.
- Install screws into the previously drilled hole.
- Repeat steps 7-8 until all the boards for the backboard are fastened together.
- Place clamps on opposite sides of the board when allowing backboard to dry to prevent the backboard from bowing in the middle.
Step 6: Route Dado Joint Into Legs
(Caution: When using power tools make sure to use proper safety equipment.)
(Note: Prior to cutting anything with the router use a test piece of lumber to ensure equipment is cutting as desired.)
- Using the photo as a reference. Use a ¾" dado router bit to create a channel ½” in-depth and 2.75' in-length into the legs of the headboard in which the backboard will joint together. (Note: Mirror the measurements on the opposite leg.)
- Make a number of passes with the router. If you attempt to complete in one pass you will have issues cutting the joint.
- Dress the edges of the termination point of the dado bit with a chisel to ensure proper fit-up with the backboard.
Step 7: Fitting the Headboard Up and Finalizing Building
Now that we are at the fit-up stage we can cut the backboard to size.
- Install the backboard into the dado joint of the legs. (Note: If needed use the chisel to ensure proper fit-up of the joints.)
- Usingthe Kreg jig on legs along the backside of the backboard drill out a hole along the center of each backboard, 12 holes in total.
- Apply glue to the jointed edges, rejoint pieces together, and then install screws.
- Measure the gap between both legs and cut the1”x2”x6’ to size.
- Drill 2 holes on the ends of this board using the Kreg Jig.
- Drill holes every 12" along each face of this board while ensuring even spacing and 6" spacing between drilled holes. (Note: This is to prevent the board from being pulled to one direction or another when installed.)
- Install bottom support bar about 1' from the bottom using both glue and screws. This bar is to help prevent any twisting or warping or the backboard.
- Drill out 2 final whole with the Kreg Jig on the top backside of the legs in which to help fasten the top trim board down.
- Glue and screw the top trim board down. Make sure to leave some wood overhanging either side as to be able to flush cut the ends.
- Allow all parts adequate time to dry.
- Route all edges with the ¾" radius round-over bit.
Headboard construction is now complete.
Step 8: Staining and Sealing the Headboard.
(Caution: Stain the headboard in a well-ventilated area.)
- Sand and smooth the headboard removing any and all desired imperfections. (Note: Whenever possible sand with the grain to prevent scratches being visible.)
- Ensure the entire surface area is sanded to the required specifications of the stain manufactures recommendations.
- Apply stain per manufacturer's recommendations until the desired look is achieved.
- Allow proper dry time prior to applying polyurethane if desired.
- Apply the polyurethane till the desired appearance is achieved. This will mean allowing dry time and sanding between coats. The more coats added the more durable the finish and smoother the end product will be.
(Note: Recommend leaving the finished product in an area where it will be able to off-gas and dry properly prior to being placed in your room.)
Step 9: Install and Enjoy!!!
Now that the headboard had had time to dry and cure it is time to install it. This can be done a number of different ways from attaching it to the frame, attaching it to the wall, or just leaning it up behind the bed. For me, I choose to install mine directly to the bed frame using 4 large lag screws. My frame is just a cheap steel bed frame that works fine for now till one day when I get the chance to make my own bed frame and maybe a footboard to match the great headboard I have made. Hopefully, I have inspired some of you and or helped guide you to make a headboard of your own. Enjoy!!!
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