DIY Headboard - How to make a headboard, save money, and add a new custom feature to your home. In our guest room, we had a box-spring and mattress on top of a steel bed frame. It was functional, but not very attractive. Adding a custom DIY wood headboard was the perfect solution.
My full-size self-supporting steel bed frame didn't require any type of structural headboard - all I had to do was make a headboard that could be attached to head end of my existing metal frame. The goal was to build a simple rustic reclaimed wood headboard that would match some rustic picture frames we had hanging in the room.
I used some 1x4 fence boards that I saved after I recently replaced my privacy fence. If you don't have any fence boards of your own, it seems that there's always someone nearby that is replacing a fence. The only costs of the project were the fasteners that were required (a handful of wood screws and four carriage bolts).
The dimensions of the headboard shown on this page are mainly just for reference. The steel bed-frame's headboard mounting holes could vary between manufacturers. When you are preparing to make your own headboard, it is best to take measurements from the actual steel frame you are planning to use. The finished width of mine was roughly 4' 9" wide (for my full-size bed frame). The finished height was 4' 8", but that was simply a matter of preference.
DIY Headboard - How to Build a Headboard
Measure the distance between the center of the mounting holes on your free-standing metal frame. This will determine the spacing of the two end braces and the lengths of the horizontal slats. The span between the mounting holes on my full-size metal frame was 52". I wanted to mount the two ends of the metal frame to the lower-center of each end brace. My 1x4 rustic reclaimed wooden fence boards were actually 3.5" wide, making the center of each end brace 1.75" from each edge of the board. To determine the lengths of the 1x4 horizontal slats, I added all of these numbers together - the span between the holes on the metal bed frame, plus the two outer edges of the end braces (52" + 1.75" + 1.75" = 55.5").
Note: After I added the trim to the two sides (and top) the overall width became 57" or 4' 9" (as indicated in the drawings).
Once I determined the lengths of my horizontal slats (55.5"), I cut 10 of them and laid them best-side-down and side-by-side on my garage floor. I aligned the ends of the slats with a framing square and screwed the two end-braces into each slat with wood screws (that were short enough not to poke through the the front-side of the slats). Next, I added a center-brace to keep the slats aligned. Finally, I added a 1x4 spacer to the bottom of each end-brace (to fill in the space below the slats).
Note: I did not add slats all the way to the bottom of my DIY headboard. I figured that there's no point in adding slats where they would not be seen. Save the material for another project.
To finish the DIY headboard project, I ripped some 1x4 fence board material down to 2 1/4" to use as trim for the two sides and top. I mitered the connecting points and nailed them with finish nails to the new rustic headboard.
You can finish the wood in a variety of ways, but I left my cedar fence boards natural.
Once the DIY headboard frame was completely assembled, I aligned the two legs (end-braces) onto the two ends of the metal bed-frame. I marked the location of the carriage bolts with a pencil and drilled 1/4" holes through the legs of the headboard. Finally, I attached the new rustic headboard to the steel frame using the four 1/4" carriage bolts and washers.
It is worth mentioning that you don't have to use reclaimed wood for your DIY headboard. You can purchase any new species of wood that is available from your local building supply store.
This DIY headboard project was an easy-to-build basic headboard design, but you can add your own headboard ideas to make it unique. As a finishing touch, we decorated our wooden headboard with some local metal art. Enjoy.
If you don't already have a bed frame, you can Shop for steel bed frames on Amazon (or any other place that sells bed frames) to compare the different styles and sizes that are available.
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