What material do I use as a base for my DIY headboard?

My great grandfather made cedar chests, tables, and more with wood inlay tops. I have some odd 'n' end wood I would like to use to make a queen size headboard. I want to honor my great grandfather by inlaying the wood. I need a base material that is light weight and sturdy. Your help and advice is greatly appreciated. Attached is a piece my great grandfather made, he was quite an inspiration.

q what material do i use as a base for my diy headboard
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