DIY Headboard

My sweet (and handy) husband made the headboard for our bedroom and for our dear friend Juli (who will be posting later about upholstering your headboard).  This is an easy project that can save you tons of money, especially if you want an upholstered headboard like this one from Restoration Hardware for your little one’s room.



Here is how you do it:


Before you begin you will need to acquire some basic supplies:

From your local hardware store:

    • One (1) sheet of 3/4″ plywood
    • (HINT: plywood is sold in 4’x8′ (48″x96″) sheets, unless you have a pickup truck this is difficult to bring home. Most large, box hardware stores will cut these sheets down to size. I had them cut my sheet down to 4’x5′(48″x60″). This made it easier to transport and work with once arriving home. The height of the headboards I make are usually always 4′, this allows me to use one sheet of plywood and minimize the amount of cutting. The width is adjusted based upon the size of the bed, a width of 5′ was used for a Queen size bed. I recommend you measure the width of your bed before you purchase the plywood.)

                •  One (1) 2×4
                • One (1) tape measure
                • One (1) circular saw
                • One (1) jig saw
                • One (1) speed square
                • Wood screws (1.5″ long)
                • One (1) can of spray adhesive
                • Sheets of a medium and a fine grit sandpaper
                • One (1) nail
                • String, 2′ should be plenty
                • One (1) Drywall saw or any sharp serrated blade
                • One (1) Long level
                • One (1) Power Drill
                • Optional: Chalkline

From a fabric store:

    • Fabric of your choice
    • Upholstery foam (the thickness will be your preference; however, I usually use 1″ thick foam as I have found it to be suitable and it is less expensive)
    • Staple gun
    • Optional: Batting, Decorative nails, buttons (if you wish to tuft your headboard, the following design is NOT tuft)
    • Graph paper
    • Pencil

Now that you have all of your supplies, you need to decide on the design and shape of your headboard.

  • First draw out a few designs on graph paper.
    • With this particular headboard, I started by drawing a scale sized rectangle. I use graph paper with larger squares, to scale it down I allow each square to represent 6 inches. By drawing the design to scale I can easily transfer the measurements to plywood so that it is symmetrical.
    • I recommend finding the center line of your rectangle and measuring everything out from the middle.
    • Basic geometry will apply. To make curves in your design, first find the radius of the circle you would like to use.
    • A basic headboard design I made can be found here: Headboard Design
  • Once the design is on graph paper and you are happy with it, you need to begin to transfer it to the headboard. The same principles for drawing it on the graph paper will apply, but now everything will be measure to scale.
    • REMEMBER! Measure twice, cut once.
  • Begin by making sure your plywood sheet is the appropriate sized rectangle. If you did not have it pre-cut at the hardware store, you first need to cut it to the appropriate size.

  • Find and mark the center of the plywood. I used a chalkline to mark these points, its an easy way to get straight lines on a larger surface.
  • Begin to draw your design on the headboard.

  • To make curves, I used string, a nail, and a strong pencil. The curved section at the top of the headboard is semi-circle with a 6 in. radius.
    • Measure 6 inches down the middle line and mark that point with a pencil.
    • Measure 6 inches to the left and to the right from the point you just marked
    • Hammer in a nail approximately half way in the middle point.
    • Take your string and create a loop that the pencil can fit in.
    • Wrap the rest of the string so that the length from the nail to the pencil is six inches (Make sure you keep the string tight at all times!)
    • Starting at either the left or the right point, begin creating a semi-circle by keeping the string tight and moving around to the other point.
    • Work slow. If you don’t end on the other point adjust your string and try again.
  • Once the design is on the plywood, begin cutting it our using a jig saw. Again work slow, I start at the top and cut it out in sections.
  • Measure the height from the floor to the top of the mattress. This will be the needed height of the legs. I usually subtract an inch or two because I like the bottom of the headboard to sit just below the top of the mattress.
  • Once you have the length of the legs you want to add 6 inches. This additional six inches will overlap the back of the headboard and provide you with surface to screw into the headboard.
  • Cut the 2×4 to get two legs that are of appropriate length. I cut the legs  in this project to 26″.
  • Measure six inches down from one end of the leg and make a line.
  • Set your circular saw so the blade will only cut 3/4 inches deep.
  • Starting on the line, make multiple cuts up the leg to create a notch that is 6 in. high and 3/4 in. deep.
  • Now use sandpaper to sand all the edges.
  • Using a small brush clean the surface of the headboard.
  • Spray the surface of the headboard with the strong, adhesive.
  • Place the foam on top of the headboard, put heavy objects on top of the foam while the adhesive dries.
  • Using the drywall saw, cut the excess foam from around the edges.
  • Once the foam is set, flip the headboard over and screw the two legs into the back of the headboard with four (4) wood screws in each leg.
  • Once the foam is on, you may then begin to attach any batting or fabric. Use a staple gun and make sure the fabric stay tight, this is usually at least a two person job. We used a standard staple gun from a hardware store; however, I have been told that air powered staple guns work remarkably well for this type of task

Here is a picture of a completed headboard with a different design.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me and Tyler (hubs) or I will try to help you!  Good luck!


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Filed under Design, DIY, Nursery Furniture

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