Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Making Our Headboard

There was the perfect combo of events that lead up to this.  This summer we have some exciting events and will have multiple family members here at the same time...with not quite enough, or appropriate, sleeping arrangements.  Additionally, both Brian and I had been having neck and back issues, insomnia issues, and well, Brian's snoring had gotten really bad.  He would want me to add here that I do snore, there you go, honey....I admit that I snore.  We had been on a queen bed nearly all of our 19 years of wedded bliss, and I really wanted to upgrade to a affordably as possible.   So how to solve all of this at once, on a budget??  Well, Sophie's room got stripped, painted, and our queen bed moved into her room.  Her comfy bed got moved into Emma's room. Boom. Two rooms ready for family to come stay in.  Brian and I were then on an airbed for a while awaiting our new king frame. Just a frame, but with individually adjustable support on each side, right at a steal of $100!! Then we had an airbed on top of a frame for a while, awaiting our 10 inch memory foam king mattress, which was under $300. Again, if you've priced these....a total steal. I was very nervous about this mattress...I mean that's pretty cheap, and we aren't tiny people...wasn't sure how foam was going to work out. comes shrink wrapped, folded and rolled up in a box.  That's really unnerving to see.  But I have to say, you need to follow the opening instructions closely.  Get it in the center of your frame and pull off the plastic and stand back.  It's like a life raft inflating. Pretty cool. We let it do it's thing getting fully inflated, or un shrink wrapped, for 2 days, and then slept on it and it has been amazing!!!  Back and neck problems are gone, insomnia still happens, but way, way less.  I'm sleeping way, way better.  We still both snore...but with the king size bed, it's like hearing it from a far off land, rather than hearing him snore right up against the side of my head.

Ok, so here's the fun part. Headboards are so expensive.  I had a specific look I wanted.  I'm not joking when I say that I like our bedroom to look like the upstairs room in a saloon in old west movies.  If you are thinking, "you mean......", yes.  That's what I mean.  I love rich, gody fabrics, with rustic wood.  If you've looked around at real, rustic, wood, king sized headboards, you are over $1000 real quick.  Even on Etsy.   So.....I decided that if all these crafty people can make them and sell them for that much, why can't I just make my own??  So despite having no wood, no plan, and no tools....I decided to do it myself.

Brian was heading out of town for a week on business, and I wanted to get it done in that week. I found a scrap wood place on Craigslist and asked him to go check it out on his lunch break. He came home with the van loaded up with long boards.  The next day I picked him up for lunch with the truck an we went and loaded it up.  All the wood was totally free, but needed a lot of work. It was mostly old fencing top boards, with one main board and 2 runner strips attached.  All those had to be pulled off, and stripped of nails.  They were perfectly grayed and old and beat up. Some looked to have been burned, and smelled it, and left my hands black....but ended up pretty.  So Brian asked what tools I thought I, nails, and a crow bar.  We have a dinky little hand jig saw thing that I could cut with, and a measuring tape, and I have a level app on my phone.  That should about cover it. I thought I would rent a hand sander and then seal it....but I ended up loving it just raw and rough and not perfect, so left it the way it was.

So he left town, and I went to work. It took 3 days. 3 of my favorite days I've had  in a long time, as far as alone, mom time, goes.  The lay out and plan evolved and changed. One major life savor was size wise, and weight (each board was really heavy, finished it would be over 100 lbs.) I didn't know how to get it from the garage to the room. During a call with my mom, she mentioned building it in the room....duh. I hadn't thought of that, but it was a life saver.

 My workbench was the top of the washer and dryer : ) There were hundreds of nails to pull. I tried to save the ones I could to reuse them as they were old, rusty, and not shiny, and that's what I wanted, not new, shiny nails.
  Below, I wasn't sure how to make a top piece, like a cornice....but I managed to make this piece that looked kinda nice and would work.
 Below, this is a good look at what each board looked like - they had two skinny strips attached that were nailed in and had to be removed.
 I had gloves, but found them to be clumsy feeling, so went with the "just gonna get a lot of splinters" option.
 Some boards had skinny strips on both sides that needed pulled, and the bonus of cut off nails. I figured out to take another nail and hammer the cut off end to get the nails out.  Cleaning up these boards was a labor intense process, but considering the wood was free, I found it to be kinda fun to bring it back to a usable state.
 That messy pile of nails is all pulled nails. Some were a little bent after I pulled them, but I was able to straighten them to reuse them.
 Laying it all out. Nothing was nailed in at this point.  I made "L" shaped sides, and then just laid everything in.
 So below I started building it in our room. BTW, those flowers are from our wedding : )  The most important part was making sure everything was square and level from the first board.  To attach the top piece, I had to start one board down from the top. The top kinda fit/sat overlapping that first board.
 So here the top piece and first board are attached, and it's time to build down...but this ended up being a two person job I had to figure out how to do alone.  I would brace one end up, and nail in the other end. I started off using one nail on each end of the boards so at the end I could wiggle it around and get it totally level and then put in the final nails at the end.


 Right now it's leaning back against the wall. I have eye hooks sitting on the nightstand to attach it to the wall, but haven't done it yet : )

There you go.  I don't think these pictures do it justice, but that's just because I know what all went into it. Things like the sides show no nails. Brian got home and was examining it and asked how it was nailed together because he couldn't see any nails from the side.  Also, anywhere I used new nails, I went over them with black chalkboard paint so they would blend in and be dull. The wood has a lot of black streaks, so it blended them right in. I also don't think the pictures really show you how massive this thing is. I still walk into our room and just look at it.  I have zero skills with building big things like this, zero experience...but I know what I like, and I know how to cut and nail. Even with no skills, I know to keep it as original as I could with using the old nails, and chalking over the new ones.  Anyone with the desire to could do this project.

It was a good reminder that if you put your mind to something and decide that you can do it, you can figure it out and do it.  I thought a lot about my grandpa during this time period. He was a pretty amazing wood worker, as is my Uncle.  Grandpa built stage coaches for his grand kids to play in and be pulled around in by a tractor, wagons, pictures made entirely of wood, additions to his home...whatever he wanted to make. He had a huge garage full of big saws and tools and anything he had a mind to make, he would just figure it out, and make it.  I'm thankful to have inherited a very tiny amount of his ability to think of things, and set out to make them!


  1. That's so cool! It's hugely impressive that you tackled this AND IT ALL WORKED! (I would have ended up with something being backwards or upside down.)