Reclaimed Wood Style Headboard

2 Days
Reclaimed wood furniture is growing in popularity these days. What's not to love? Reusing old wood for furniture is environmentally friendly, looks great, and adds character to any room.
That said, not everyone has easy access to reclaimed wood. So how can such a person get this look without resorting to tearing down their neighbor's barn? By imitating the look. In my case, I had a lot of scrap wood left over from other woodworking projects and I did not want to waste them. So I built my fiancé, Anna, a headboard out them. This post shows you how to construct a reclaimed wood style headboard from newer, cheaper pieces of untreated lumber.

Compound miter saw (or any other power saw)


Orbital sander or hand sander

120 and 220 grit sandpaper

Rags for the stains

Brushes for the finish


2" x 6" x 6' pine boards (about 7 pieces)

4" x 4" x 6' posts (2 pieces)

2-4 different colors of stain

Polyurethane finish
Step One - Plan and Draw Out Headboard's Layout

First, you need to to know your bed's dimensions. Measure the width of you bed frame. Anna's bed is a full sized bed, which has a width of about 54 inches. Since the posts of the headboard are on the outside--rather than behind--they will add about 7 inches to the total width of the headboard. Consequently, I planned my platform to be about 50.5 inches to allow the bed frame to attach squarely to the center of the posts.

Next, draw how you want the design of your headboard to look. This will prevent costly mistakes later on.
Step Two - Dent, Damage, and Distress Each Piece of Wood

The part of the reclaimed wood look that gives it so much character is the damage that occurs throughout years of exposure to the elements, and from general wear and tear. Using any tools at your disposal dent, scrape, cut, char, or slightly damage the surface of the boards. Be aware, however, that any impressions in the wood will show darker once the wood is stained.
Step Three - Measure and Cut Each Board

Before cutting, sand each board, including the posts, with 120 grit sandpaper. Next, cut each board according to the design in your plans. It is a good idea to start by cutting the boards to total the length of your platform, the cut the boards into smaller pieces. In my case, I cut the boards to 50.5 inches first, which is the total length of the headboard less the width of the two posts.

When you are done, lay out the wood pieces on the floor or table according to your design. Make sure each row wood measures to be exactly the same length. If they are not the same length, the platform will not attach squarely to the posts.

Last, cut the posts to your desired height. Posts for beds without box-springs should be shorter than posts for beds with box-springs. Because my design is for a bed with a box-spring, I cut the posts to 56 inches.

Stain and Finish the Wood

Stain each board, including the posts, with your various stains. My plan was to make the headboard look like a collection of different wood types. Let the stain dry overnight.

After the stain dries, apply three coats of polyurethane finish. Each coat will take about three hours to dry. After coats one and two dry, lightly sand each board with the 220 grit sand paper until smooth.
Glue and Screw Your Headboard Together

Using a jig and your plans, screw each piece of wood together according to your plans. Remember to add glue before joining the pieces together.

N.B. All drill holes should be on the same side of the headboard. This will be the back, non-visible side of your headboard, so be sure to inspect each piece of wood before you drill into it to ensure that the best looking side is clean from drill holes.
Step Eight - Glue and Screw the Headboard

Using the jig again, drill four holes on each short side of the headboard directed towards where the posts should attach. Next, using two thin pieces of wood as spacers, rest the platform upside down on the spacers and apply glue to the sides. Last, attach the platform to the posts with screws. Let the glue dry overnight.
You're done!
Frequently asked questions
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