My Tongue and Groove Bookcase Headboard

Stacy Davis
by Stacy Davis
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. icon 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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3 of 5 questions
  • Judy Judy on Mar 09, 2019

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

  • 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?

  • Diane Diane on Jun 19, 2020

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

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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 GBK on Apr 28, 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.