My Tongue and Groove Bookcase Headboard

8 Materials
2 Hours

Over the past few years we were moving a lot so I replaced everyone's old beds and bed frames with these folding easy-to-move bed frames. The only thing was that without a headboard, it lacked personality. I even bought big pillows to hide the fact that there was no headboard and still I wasn't happy. So, as I do, I decided to try to build a headboard for my son's bed. I am super excited at how easy it was and how it has turned out. Now I originally planned to stain it or white wash it. But, as I was building it, I shifted building materials to tongue and groove boards that were riddled with knots. I do know that knots have tannins within that will bleed through paint sometime in the future. I am planning on priming it with Zinsser Bin Primer and then painting it. I would appreciate feedback on if this is the right plan for my headboard concerning the aforementioned knots.  I am thinking of painting the headboard white except for the poplar board on top. I think I will stain that. I hit my picture limit but I am going to put a picture in the comments that shows the exact boards that I picked up at Lowes.

Some of you might remember my little bathroom shelf that I made a while back. Well, I am reorganizing my bathroom so the shelf was sitting on the floor and honestly has been for some time. I moved it when I was vacuuming and suddenly it dawned on me that on a much larger scale, this would make an awesome but simple headboard. And so it began... Now, while this was the inspiration, the headboard isn't an exact clone. This project used 1 by 4's and thin wall planks and the headboard uses 1 by 6's and a very thick tongue and groove, almost like a shiplap.

First, I decided how tall I wanted my headboard to be. I decided 55 inches seemed like a good height. Then when I was shopping, I realized if I cut one 8 foot board in half, 48 inches wasn't too far from 55 inches and I could save money. I bought four 1 by 6 by 8 ft whiteboards from Lowes. I propped up the two sides on where I wanted them to be.

Then I measured across and cut a board to that measurement. My son has a full size bed.

The tools required for this are quite simple. I used a power miter box to cut the wood. (not shown) Then I used wood glue, corner clamps, a hammer and 1 1/2 inch finishing nails. You could absolutely use a power nailer if you wanted but I did it the old fashioned way. Those clamps surprising get terrible reviews online but they were AWESOME! It was the first time I used them for a project and it was like having extra hands.

I placed my piece on top.

Added glue...

Added clamps...

Nailed it securely. I put three nails across each side. When this was dry I added five pieces of the tongue and groove boards across the back.

I started at the top and went down five boards, glueing and nailing into place. I would tap the next board to try to make it slide into the groove correctly. I think some of the tongue and groove boards were warped because they didn't seem to stay very well but I am still happy with it. Just adds more rustic charm when it isn't perfect. But, if you are a perfectionist, make sure you select straight, not warped boards.

This is how it looks at this point. I did a lot of building on the floor and then sliding it into position and standing back and admiring the progress. On each side I added a 5 1/2 inch piece of 1 by 2 for a shelf to sit on.

I bought a poplar board (because they didn't really have anything else in the size I needed and it is a pretty wood.) that was 1 by 8 by 8 ft to go on top of the 1 by 6. I measured equal overhang on each side and cut this piece with my power miter box saw. Here is a little side view of how everything kind of lines up. You can see the tongue and groove to the back and I will probably cover that with a piece of trim moulding.

I added the 1 by 8 with glue, nails and then clamped it tight and let it dry overnight.

I added another shelf that is somewhat level with the mattress. I may add a board across the front if needed but for now it seems perfect.

Super simple to make. Now I am planning on painting it. He wants gray. I was hoping for white. I have had a lot of gray wood in my projects lately but it is HIS bed. I guess gray is really on trend these days.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Judy
    on Mar 9, 2019

    Is the headboard attached to the bed frame or does it just sits up against the wall

    • Tammy Bassett
      Tammy Bassett
      on Jul 19, 2020

      I love it. Never thought of using tongue and groove for something like that. Looks great.

  • Lisa Andrews
    Lisa Andrews
    on Mar 10, 2019

    I am just wondering why you had to use a mitre box saw when you don’t have any mitred corners?

    • Stacy Davis
      Stacy Davis
      on Mar 10, 2019

      You don’t have to use a power miter box but that is the only power saw that I have. You could use a chop saw or circular saw if you like. I bought an affordable power miter box because it has the versatility to do many different cuts. One tool, many uses and it is always ready to go on my work bench.

  • Diane
    on Jun 20, 2020

    Is it attached to bed?? If not how is that working out for you???

Join the conversation

2 of 21 comments
  • Daisy Sanchez
    Daisy Sanchez
    on Mar 10, 2019

    That's a great idea. Love it. I thought of it for my grandson but he'll put all the garbage he can out. Jiji. But I love it. Thanks for sharing.

  • GBK
    on Apr 29, 2019

    For knots, just get a spray can of shellac and hit each one with a shot of shellac. Works like a charm, paint right over it with latex.

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