How to Make a DIY Wood Headboard
Simple Instructions to Build Your Own Headboard at Home
Making a simple DIY headboard from naturally finished pine gives your bedroom a clean, contemporary appearance. In this project, vertical slats behind the pillows culminate in a horizontal top rail for a perfect touch. With no exposed fasteners, this modern wood slat headboard truly looks like it was professionally built.
This headboard couldn't be any easier to build and it can typically cost under $100 to make it. Even if you think you can't build one from scratch, this project walks you through how to make a headboard, step by step. The best wood to make this headboard is pine or another softwood so cutting is effortless—even if you decide to use a manual saw instead of an electric saw.
Before You Begin
This freestanding DIY headboard is designed to attach to a standard metal bed frame for support. Metal bed frames always have a pair of stanchions at the head end, one on each side. Each stanchion (an upright, flat piece of metal) has six or so holes for attaching headboards.
An attached headboard is best if you like sitting up in bed to watch videos or read, as it prevents the bed from sliding away from the wall. If you prefer extra support, an easier way to install the headboard is to mount it directly to the wall behind the bed, creating the illusion of an attached headboard.
Bed Frame Sizes
This DIY wood headboard width is designed for a Queen-size bed. Scale the width to your own bed's width.
- Twin: 38 inches
- Full: 54 inches
- Queen: 60 inches
- King: 76 inches
Be careful when cutting with an electric saw. Thoroughly sand down the wood to avoid splinters.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Electric miter saw or hand saw
- Cordless drill
- Spring wood clamps
- Tape measure
- Carpenter's square or Speed Square
- Wood glue
- Clear polyurethane coating
- Tack cloth
- Wrench set
- 12 one-by-twos
- 1 one-by-eight
- 1-inch wood screws
- 4 2 1/2-inch bolts with lock washers and nuts
How to Make a Wood Headboard
Cut the wood on the miter saw or by hand. Some home centers and lumberyards will custom-cut wood for you, usually charging a small amount per cut.
Cut List Lumber Type Cut Quantity Length (Each) Part One-by-two 20 48 inches Vertical slats One-by-two 1 60 inches Upper brace One-by-two 1 62 inches Top rail One-by-eight 1 60 inches Lower brace
Mark Attachment Points on Lower Brace
The 60-inch one-by-eight lower brace runs the width of the bed. Because it is below the level of the mattress, it will not be visible.
Temporarily clamp the one-by-eight behind the bed frame stanchions (on the wall side of the stanchions). With the pencil, mark two spots on each end of the board where you will drill holes for bolts. Finish by drilling the holes through.
On a clean, flat surface, dry-fit all pieces of the headboard, minus the top rail for now:
- The upper brace and lower brace should be parallel to each other and 48 inches apart (when measuring from the far ends of the braces).
- Fit two of the vertical slats positioned at the farthest ends of the upper and lower braces and perpendicular to them.
Check if the Frame Is Square
As you work, check that the frame is perfectly square. Measure the panel from corner to corner with the tape measure. If the measurements are identical, the frame is square. If the measurement varies on one corner, push the framing until measurements are the same before you attach pieces with glue and screws in the following steps.
Attach Slats to Braces
Continue to check for square. Square the two end slats with the upper and lower braces, forming a rectangle. Use the carpenter's square or Speed Square to check for square. Lift up the pieces, add wood glue, then replace them and attach them with screws. Pre-drill with pilot holes to avoid splitting the wood.
Use two screws per slat on the lower brace and one screw per slat on the upper brace.
Attach Center Slats
Add the remaining 18 vertical slats between the two end slats. Slats should be spaced 1 1/2 inches away from each other (or the true width of a one-by-two).
As with the end slats, drill pilot holes and then use two screws per lower brace and one screw at the top. Be sure to use wood glue for extra strength, as well.
Continue Drill Holes
With the drill, continue the holes drilled earlier in the lower brace through the end slats.
Add Top Rail
With wood glue and nails, add the top rail to the top of the headboard. The top rail is designed to be wider than the headboard by 1 inch on each side.
With the sandpaper, smooth down the wood. This step is particularly important because softwoods can be splintery. Clean with the tack cloth.
Add Clear Coating
With the brush and polyurethane, brush on two coats of clear coating. Water-based polyurethane may dry within 30 minutes or so. If using oil-based polyurethane, the re-coat wait time might be as long as 6 to 8 hours.
Attach the headboard to the bed frame with the 2 1/2-inch bolts. Use the wrench set to thoroughly tighten the bolts, making sure the bed doesn't squeak.