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This headboard was my favorite piece to build!

I found the wood for this headboard in my dad’s barn. I had been wandering around looking at all his old antiques with my kids.

He has the most amazing horse sleigh and even an old churner in there along with all these old axes and other equipment that he would have once used growing up.

He grew up on a dairy farm and even though they had very little they certainly knew how to get things done. I loveeee hearing all his stories from childhood.

He talks about the horse and carriage, the outhouse, no electricity but the best part is he has a way of making it sound magical.

The second I saw this wood I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

The best part about how I build is what you don’t need:

  • You don’t need fancy expensive tools
  • Do not need the best wood that cost more than all your appliances put together..
  • You don’t need to be a professional

I had been looking for the perfect wood for this project forever! The wood is crazy old… I found out after that my dad used it for years as scaffolding for roofing jobs.

Once I got it home I even noticed numbers etched into it and realized they were measurements that my dad had jotted down so he wouldn’t forget while on the job.

My husband didn’t look nearly as excited by the thought of my dad’s name on our headboard…. lol

I am crazy sentimental so for me this was just awesome!

I started the moment I got it home! Let me show you what I did so that you can do something similar on your own!


I knew that I wanted to overshoot my measurements because even though we currently have a queen mattress, we want to get a king soon.

Here are the measurements of the mattresses I was working around to give you an idea. Mattress Mart has a great sizing chart here that you can use if you are not sure on what dimensions to use.

California King72″ x 84″
King76″ x 80″
Queen60″ x 80″

Now that I knew my measurements I headed outside and set up my mitresaw. It is my favorite tool by far and a hand me down from my dad. Actually, almost all of my tools are hand me downs from him… lol

The mitresaw that I have right now is Mastercraft 10″ but I hope to get a new one soon and would love to give one of these guys a try:


After you know your measurement, take a moment and visualize exactly what you are going for. Maybe you grab a few examples on Pinterest (my go to) or draw out some ideas to come up with a basic concept of what you are going for.


Make sure to grab some safety glasses to protect your eyes. I learnt this that hard way, now I just wear my regular glasses all the time when I am building


Make your first cut. If you aren’t used to using the mitresaw, take some time and some scrap pieces and make some practice cuts. It is really easy to use and takes very little time to learn.

Continue to make the remaining cuts. This doesn’t need to be perfect which is the best part.

You can be really creative with your cuts to get the mismatch lines as your go, play around with what you like. This is a personal preference so do what you like!

rustic headboard pieces laid out

As you make each cut, lay the pieces of wood out so that you can get a sense of high you want the headboard to be.

Make sure that you lay the pieces with the GOOD side down and the side you don’t like as much facing you.

You know the width from your previous measurements. Now you need an idea of how high you would like it to go up the wall for height.

When you lay the pieces out it is important to make sure that you have equal amount of space between each board so that it looks good when you put it on the wall.

For this I used a scrap piece of 3/4 inch wood and held it between each row as I laid them all out.

I was aiming for a fairly high and chunky type look so I built it up visually, then measured it when it looked about right to me. I then took that measurement upstairs to my bedroom and marked it on the wall. Stand back to see if that looks like what you have in mind.

I liked the way mine looked right away! If you don’t, just add another row or even take one away because you haven’t screwed it all together yet.


When it is time to screw everything together you will need 3 1/2″ wood screws. You need the length because your wood is 2″ thick.

That way you are sure it holds securely to the other piece you are screwing it into.

I use a Dewalt compact drill but have both of these ones here. I prefer the compact drill personally.

My favorite part of building seeing the whole thing come together and that is what starts to happen next in this step.


I grabbed a few scrap pieces that I sitting around from another project and randomly started to screw the scrap pieces onto rows that I had nicely laid out.

Make sure you have the right side “the good side” down so you don’t end up screwing it all together on the wrong side.

I have done that before and it sucks having to take it all apart.. lol

You want to place your scrap pieces strategically so that each row gets held firmly into place.

I screwed the scrap pieces on either side, attaching 2 rows together at a time. I worked my way through all of them.

You also want to make sure that you keep the handy 3/4″ scrap piece in between your rows as you go. That way each row is the same width apart to get the nicest overall look.


Once that is all done, go ahead and flip the whole thing over. You may need to get help doing this if you made yours tall like I did.

Now, before you decide if you want to frame your in like I did. You want to sand your work so far.


I started out with 60 grit sandpaper and my orbital saw and worked up to 120 grit. My kids even helped with this part because they love using the orbital sander. Make sure that you sand it really well.

You want a nice smooth appearance and what it to look professional. Sanding old wood gives it a gorgeous modern look but doesn’t make it loose the antique look either.


When just starting out it can be so confusing to know what to use and when to use it.

Lowe’s actually has a great post on everything that you need to know about sandpaper that you can read.

Basically, the lower the number (60), the more course the paper. The more course the paper the more it will take off the wood as well as leaves a rougher look.

As you work your way up in number the grit gets more fine, so let’s say 120, you will feel the wood surface gets smoother and the paper has less grit.

So, start with the low number and work your way but to get a nice smooth surface.


Now, you have to decide if you want your headboard framed out. I am crazy visual so I dragged it upstairs with my son. It is crazy heavy so don’t be like me… get someone that can give you a hand with this part.

Once you have it up against the way you will have a better idea of the overall look. Then you will know if you want to frame it.

For the frame, I picked up 2 pieces of 2x4x12. If you are really new, that means 2 inches thick, 4 inches wide and 12 feet long.

You want to measure one side at a time so that you get exactly the right measurements.

Cut each piece one at a time so that you know how it is coming together. If you need to make any adjustments.

Mine were ____” which I really love for the height of my headboard. I decided that I liked the simple framed in looked. You can add extra detail by placing pieces across however you like.

All that you have to do next is screw each 2×4 piece that you cut to size into the side edge of the boards you have put together to give it a nice framed look!


Just a couple finishing touches left.

I gave mine another quick sanding to make sure it was nice a smooth. Doing this step will also make sure that the added frame boards got a good sanding.

It looked exactly the way that I wanted!


After that, I stained the whole thing with a clear stain. You can use whatever stain you like.

I use Red Oak stain in my house alot but that gives a very dark redish/brown colour. Here I wanted to maintain the old rustic look for the headboard so I used this one.


I also gave it a coat of polycrylic. I don’t think this step is absolutely necessary since you won’t be putting items or glasses on the surface. But I love it so much that I gave it the extra step.

This is the one that I went with and have used in the past. It works really well!

Minwax Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish

There you have it! Everything that you need to know to build an easy DIY headboard.

I love how the modern farmhouse look can make any room look amazing!


Tammy Seed

I am a passionate, goal oriented girl that loves DIY home projects and sharing with others how they can create and build easily as well!

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