Easy and Beautiful Wood DIY Headboard

A DIY headboard is an easy, beginner friendly project with great impact. It can improve the look and feel of a bedroom in such a big way!

We made a DIY headboard as part of our DIY bed frame. However, many people already have a bed or mattress with box spring, yet they may still want to build a beautiful DIY wood headboard.

In this detailed tutorial, I will share with you how to build a free-standing wood headboard that looks just like ours to go with any type of bed! The free plan is showing a queen headboard, but I have included variations for you to build a DIY king size headboard and twin size headboard at the end.

If you want to build a wood platform bed integrated with a headboard, you can check out our DIY bed frame tutorial here!

Choosing wood for your DIY headboard:

I talked a lot in our DIY bed frame tutorial about wood species and how to choose wood for strength, work-ability and beauty. Select wood with nice grain, few  cup and twist, and no splits. Keep in mind that knots are very dense, making them hard to drill and cut through.

Do NOT use pressure treated lumber, there can be toxic chemicals in them! Read more about choosing wood here ( in Step 1 ).

You can use this plan to build a pallet headboard.

However, some pallet wood are not good choices. Before you start on a DIY pallet  headboard, please check out this detailed guide on how to find, select, and work with pallets!

How to find, select, and work with pallets!

Materials and tools for wood DIY headboard:

Note: lumber size is for queen headboard. See variations at the end for twin or king headboard. Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Step 1: Prepare the wood for your DIY headboard

Sand all the cut surfaces with 120 grit sand paper to remove any splinters, and sand the front and side wood surfaces with 300 to 400 fine grit sand paper to make them super smooth!

Step 2: Build the center panel of the wood headboard

First decide the layout of your DIY headboard. Look at each post and slat, and choose the best looking side to face front. This is such a fun step to get a glimpse of the finished wood headboard!

We propped up the 1×4 slats and arranged them so that the various wood grains and knots look natural when put together. You wouldn’t want all the knots to end up on one side, right? 🙂

After getting a layout you like, mark the back of each piece with a number because we will be building our DIY headboard with the front side facing down on the work table.

To create the center panel, first drill all the pocket holes using a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig on the 1×4 braces ans 2×4 top & bottom piece as shown in plan below.

Lay the 1×4 slats on a flat surface, arrange the wood according to the numbers we marked on the back. I folded thick magazine covers 3 folds and used them as spacers between the slats. This is not just for looks. Why?

Have you heard of the terms “shiplap wall” , “tongue and groove flooring”, or ” floating panel door”? They are everywhere, we take them for granted. Here’s the reason behind all these designs features-

Considerations for wood movement. Wood fibers swell as they absorb moisture and shrink as they release it, causing the wood to expand and contract across the grain. A 12″ wide board can expand or contract by 1/8″.

Build a beautiful wood DIY headboard: detailed tutorial & free plans for twin, queen & king size headboard. Lots of tips on woodworking & natural finishes. A Piece of Rainbow

If you add all the 1×4″ slats, we have a total of almost 1/2″ of wood movement. If these 1x4s as placed tightly together during a dry month, the headboard can bulge when air moisture goes up. These little spacers will give the wood rooms to move.

Check for square by measuring the entire panel from corner to corner. If the measurements aren’t the same, push the long corner towards the middle of the structure until they even out. Once identical, the panel is perfectly squared.

Hold the wood in place with bar clamps, screw the 1×4 braces to the slats using 1″ to 1.25″ wood screws, 2 for each slat on each end. See below.

Build a beautiful wood DIY headboard: detailed tutorial & free plans for twin, queen & king size headboard. Lots of tips on woodworking & natural finishes. A Piece of Rainbow

Attache the center panel to the posts using 1.25″ and 2.5″ Pocket Hole screws  as indicated on the plan. You can have the panel flush with the posts, or create a little offset. We laid the panel of slats flat on some 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick plywood and propped the panel up a bit to create an offset when attaching panel of slats to the posts.

Below is our finished DIY headboard! Because it is integrated with our DIY bed frame ( tutorial here), we have those brackets and a 2×6 bottom rail.

 

How to adapt this DIY headboard plan to any size bed, such as a king bed, a twin bed, with or without headboard, etc.

The plan below is for a king size headboard. The back support structures of a DIY king size headboard is the same as the queen size headboard. Just add 16 inches to  the length of all the horizontal components: the 1x4s and 2x4s.

To build a twin size headboard, you don’t have to use 4×4 posts. 2x4s will look nice in that scale. See the twin size headboard plan below.

The bottom slat is 11″ above ground. You can adjust this height according to the height of your mattress. The wood slats should come 8″ to 12″ below the top of mattress.

Best natural finishes for your wood bed frame and headboard:

For our DIY headboard, I gave the boards a light gold stain using Recipe #7 in this tutorial: Easy Homemade All Natural Wood Stains with 7 Recipes!

7 recipes to make wood stains in any color using natural household materials! These quick and easy wood stains are super effective, long lasting, low cost, and non-toxic!

Easy Homemade All Natural Wood Stains – 7 Recipes!

If you want to paint your wood headboard, a beautiful option is a whitewashed wood finish using non-toxic paint.  Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways-

Ultimate guide + video tutorials on how to whitewash wood & create beautiful whitewashed floors, walls and furniture using pine, pallet or reclaimed wood. | apieceofrainbow.com

How to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways

Build a beautiful wood DIY headboard: detailed tutorial & free plans for twin, queen & king size headboard. Lots of tips on woodworking & natural finishes. A Piece of Rainbow

My favorite wood finish is an all natural furniture wax made from bees wax and olive oil. I learned this recipe from a wooden toy maker. It has a lovely honey smell! You can find the details here at the end of our the DIY wood crate project-

I also selected some great natural wood finishes you can find on Amazon-

You may also love: 30 beautiful pallet wall and shiplap wall DIYs!

30 best DIY shiplap wall and pallet wall tutorials and beautiful ideas for every room. Plus alternative methods to get the wood wall look easily! - A Piece of Rainbow

Happy creating!

45 Comments

  1. Can you please tell me how you cut out all of the 1 x 4 pieces if you have 10 slats and 3 back supports? Out of the 3 10 foot 1×4 you can get 6 slats, and out of the 3 1×4 8 footers you can get 3 slats and the 3 back supports. There is still one slat that needs to be cut. Am I missing something? To get everything cut out, you would need 6 10 footers (2 slats each using 5 boards and the back supports out of the last 10 footer).

    Thank you!

    • hi pam! so sorry for the mistake! i listed the correct numbers in the DIY bed post, but somehow this one wasn’t updated! here are corrected amount: (10) 1×4 @ 4’8″ and (3) 1×4 @ 2’11.5″, cut from (6) 1×4 @ 10′
      thank you SOOO much for catching this! i sincerely apologize for any inconvenience!

  2. SO I made the headboard and added extra step and applied a light stain. The issue I have though is some of wood is a little rough and I want to sand it – can I do this without ruining the stain?

  3. We really learned a lot from this tutorial to make our wood headboard. It was very easy and we love it! Thank you!

  4. Currently in the process of making this bed and I’m so excited! I want to leave some more open space in my headboard though. I cut the height down to 4’ and I’m only planning to have 2 1x4s running across (instead of 10). It kind of looks like a fence. My question is, do you think I could forgo the vertical shoots and attach the 1x4s directly to the posts using pocket screws, or should I still include the vertical supports? I’m open to either but slightly prefer the cleaner look of not having the vertical pieces behind. Thanks!!! Loving this process so far.

    • hi cara! if the bed is wider than a twin bed, i would consider using 2×4 slats, because 1x4s going a long length without cross support might warp. happy building!! 🙂

      • Thanks so much for the response! I considered using 2x4s as well, might go that route. Appreciate the advice! (Also my phone autocorrected *slats* to *shoots* in my original question – glad you understood what I was asking, haha.)

  5. I am getting into Woodworking and this is the project I can’t wait to make! Thanks for the tutorial and free building plan!

  6. I am getting into Woodworking and power tools, and making a headboard. Glad to find your project. Great tutorials with lots of helpful tips, thank you!

  7. I am so excited to be working on this headboard and bed frame! Thank you for sharing and inspiring. One thing I’m wondering about- are the horizontal 1x4s flush with the face of the 4x4s? Studying your photos it appears there’s a slight depth. I’m trying to figure out the best way to attach the center piece to the 4x4s. Did you simply lay everything flat?

    Thank you!

    • hi katie! you can do it in many ways. we did have the 1x4s at a little offset , about 1/8″ back. you can lay the slats flat on some 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick plywood and when you are done they will have an offset. i am going to add this to the post. thank you for the great question! 🙂

  8. I am making this bed. So far things are going well. However, my husband thinks that the connections made with via Kreg jig will not hold well enough. Does anyone have any opinions or suggestions about this issue?

    • hi paula, our bed has held up great for over 2 years now. i think it’s very strong if you choose the right wood ( see the materials section ) for structural strength. traditional joinery would be strongest, but requires a lot more work. 🙂

  9. I wish I have my own equipment to do my DIY headboard. I have a lot of ideas of wooden headboard but how can I do?! Anyway, thank you for the great tips of making a headboard.

    • I love this headboard! Is there a similar footboard? Our master bedroom is quite large, and I think a footboard would be awesome! What would you think a good height would be? Also, we are thinking of using leftover tongue and groove hardwood flooring to fill in the head/foot boards. Do you see any issues with that?

      • hi Mary! you can totally tongue and groove hardwood flooring on the headboard and foot board! a foot board would look good about the height of the mattress, or up to 8 inch higher! 🙂

  10. I’m about to finish gathering my materials to try this out! Thanks for the in-depth tutorial!

    I’m a bit confused on the materials used for the headboard, though– hoping you can clarify! The bed frame tutorial says that the bottom-most horizontal piece on the headboard should be a 2×6—to match the 2×6 across the foot of the bed. However, this headboard tutorial says there should be a 2×4 at the bottom instead. Is the 2×4 used only if it is a stand-alone headboard (no frame)? Which should it be if I am making the whole bed?

    Further, the materials list indicates that nine (9) 1×4 pieces should be attached to the 3 vertical supports on the headboard, but it looks like there are ten (10) horizontal pieces in the photo, with the bottom piece slightly narrower than the 9 above it. Did I miss something in the instructions?

    Thank you!
    Chelsea

    • hi chelsea, great questions 🙂
      1. the bottom-most horizontal piece on the headboard can be a 2×6 or 2×4. because 2x6s lumber gives extra room to create the holder for the stringers of the bed, that’s why 2×6 was used here. if you use a 2×4, you will need joist hanger there to hold the stringer for the bed.
      2. you are right! (10) 1x4s, i will change that, thank you!! 🙂

  11. I’ve never tried making my own headboard before. I love the design on this one though, it gives you that country/rustic feel! You make it seem so easy to make!

  12. It looks so good! I love your inspiration photos too. Y’all did such a great job. Looks like something we could do.

  13. Love the rustic antique feel of this headboard! I’m itching to get a new one for my bed but looking at the price points in the market just makes me nod no.. so this DIY will defintely come in handy.. will probably just let boyrfriend do the measuring and ill do the painting.. Thank you for sharing!

  14. This headboard looks beautiful and easy enough that I think I can actually make it. I have a guest bedroom that I have been wanting a new headboard for. I just might give this a try!

  15. Wow, this is amazing! I never would’ve thought about making my own headboard but your helpful steps really demystified the process. I’d love to try to make this with the pallets!

  16. What a clever idea for a headboard! I never knew it could be so easy to make my own that looks so fantastic – a perfect statement piece for a bedroom

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