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Make A Headboard From Fence Pickets For Under $50

Do you remember my inspiration for this headboard? It was this headboard that belongs to my Virtual Room (re)Design client, Cassandra.

When I saw her headboard, I loved it immediately. There was just something wonderful about the juxtaposition between the rough hewn wood and the very elegant shape.

So when I was planning John & Alice’s bedroom, I wanted to use Cassandra’s headboard as inspiration for a headboard to go into the master bedroom. I wanted it to be made out of very humble materials, and I wanted to incorporate that elegant shape on top.

Well, I’d say it doesn’t get much more “humble” than 11 pieces of fencing pickets* that cost $1.39 each! At the end of Tuesday, this is what the headboard looked like:

And now, after shaping the top with my jigsaw, sanding, and staining the headboard (it still needs polyurethane), it looks like this:

I love how it turned out. It’s not completely finished. I still need to polyurethane the whole thing with at least two coats of poly. But I absolutely love the shape. And I also love that it’s out of the ordinary. As I stated on the A2D Facebook page, I wanted it to look very simple and understated–almost primitive–and perhaps like something that Pa would have made Half Pint as a very special Christmas gift with leftover lumber from the mill. (Reference, anyone?) :-D

Who would have thought that those incredibly rough, not so pretty wood pickets could be transformed into something so nice? The process was relatively simple.

The headboard I made is a queen size, and I wanted it to have a finished height of about 63 inches. The two outside boards that act as “legs” were cut to 63 inches. The nine inside boards were cut to 39 inches (so that they would be long enough to go down below the top of the mattress a couple of inches, but wouldn’t cover up outlets on the wall).

I placed the boards with the “right” side facing down. (There’s really not a “right” side. I just looked through the boards and selected the prettiest side of each one to the the “right” side.)

After they were all cut and lined up, I attached them with boards running horizontally. I ended up using three long boards, which were attached with construction adhesive and screws.

I then used a piece of cardboard from a box, and cut it to HALF of the width of my headboard.

I drew the shape I wanted on the cardboard. As you can tell, it took me a couple of tries. I then cut out the shape with a utility knife.

I lined up the pattern on half of the headboard and traced the shape onto the boards.

Then I flipped the pattern over and traced the other side.

Then I used my jigsaw to cut out the shape.

After that, it’s just a matter of sanding the edges and the front of the boards smooth, staining, and polyurethaning. And voila!

So simple!!

*Please note: If you decide to try this project, it is IMPERATIVE that you use brand new fence pickets. DO NOT try to make this with recycled fence wood. Trust me, I know it’s tempting, especially since the wood gets that gorgeous patina when it’s weathered. But just a few short years ago, pressure treated wood for outdoor use was treated with a compound containing ARSENIC. You do not want that in your house!!

Pressure treated wood is now treated with a “safe” compound (no longer containing arsenic), but even so, I recommend that you use a power sander and sand the boards until they’re super smooth so there’s absolutely no chance of splinters, and then seal them with polyurethane.

Edit: Here’s a view of the headboard in the finished room…

Want to see the whole “before and after” of this bedroom? Click here!



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  1. trying to find headboard patterns . is templates is soooo hard , happy to pay for a plan of the designs . many thanks Bea

  2. Do you think this would work as a base for an upholstered headboard? I’m looking to make an upholstered headboard and am trying to find inepensive ways to make the base instead of a large sheet of plywood or something similar. Would a staple gun be able to puncture the wood and hold well? Please let me know what you think!

  3. I have been trying to make a twin headboard with the same concept except I was thinking of using wide beadboard.

    Do you think this would work the same way? Just cut our shape and sand edges and paint edges?

    Thank you


    1. If you’re using the thick, board-style beadboard, I do think it’ll work. If you’re using the 4 x 8 sheets of beadboard or the really thin stuff that comes in packages of 8 pieces or so, then probably not.

  4. Thank you for the instructions and the photos.Your bed looked great. I tried it with pressure treated pine and after getting all done the wood shrunk and started to warp. I retried with better wood. I love the result.