In trying to save as much money completing this bedroom project, I was prepared to construct a headboard out of old pine shelving that I had stored in the garage. I received this shelving free of charge a couple years back from the hubs photographer friend who needed to clear up space in the basement of their new studio in Hamilton, Ontario. The studio, formerly an old bank, had piles of dusty unfinished pine wood shelving that needed to be cleared out of the basement so they could gain the extra square footage. I was happy to take as much as could fit in my car. Pretty generous weren’t they? 🙂

Free for the Taking

I wanted the construction of the headboard to be pretty simple to assemble but not too predictable. I’ve seen a number of designs where boards are laid horizontally, vertically, staggered, diagonal, chevron or herringbone. All these styles can be done beautifully. Perhaps the chevron or herringbone patterns would be a bit of a challenge as it would be a first for me to try. I was up for the challenge, but I just wanted different. So I decided on random sized blocks.

Materials/Tools I Used

  • one 1/2″x4’x8′ pine plywood cut to desired width of headboard
  • one 2″x4x8″ lumber cut about 6 inches shorter than the width of the headboard OR cut a 4″ wide strip from the pine plywood – this will be used to attach the headboard to the wall – instructions to follow
  • 1/2″ pine shelving
  • three 1/2″x2″x8″ lengths of pine strips – for trim
  • screws
  • saw to cut random sizes blocks of wood
  • headless nails/brad nailer gun
  • fine grit sandpaper
  • tape measure
  • stain
  • urethane

The first thing I did was purchase a 4’x8′ pine plywood board about 1/2″ thick at Lowes. I figured this thickness would be sturdy enough to mount the wooden blocks onto. Anything thicker would be too heavy and a thinner board, a little too flimsy. I used the in-store cutting service to cut the board to my desired width 55 inches wide, a little wider than the size of the double size mattress being used in this bedroom.

I also purchased three 8′ lengths of pine 1/2″x2″ to be used to trim out the headboard. I wanted the trim to be a little wider than the finished headboard so I could get a bit of a reveal.

First up is to measure how far down I want to place the cut blocks and mark this measurement on the plywood. I don’t need to entirely cover the plywood with the blocks since part of it will be hidden behind the mattress. This measurement is 28 inches from the top to the bottom edge of the last row of blocks.

Not having a large garage to complete all my diy projects, I get by by doing some work inside where it’s nice and warm and carrying out the messy stuff in the (cold)garage. Got to get a heater in there. 😉 Note: I had laid out a few of the shelving pieces on the plywood to get an idea of how many will be used to cover the required areas before sanding.

The next step is to clean and lightly sand each shelving. I wanted to keep as all the imperfections, dents, scratches or nail holes which adds a rustic character to the wood. Off to the garage to get this part done.

I chose the shortest lengths of pine shelving out of my stash for this project. As you can see they vary in height. I used three pieces about 4 feet in height and one about 2 feet in height.

The next step was to cut random sized pieces and rough fit them like a jigsaw puzzle on the plywood. The hubs helped with the cuts, while I laid them out in different directions to avoid the pieces lining up too perfectly.

Once I had all my pieces laid out, I proceeded to stain.

I applied two coats of Miniwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain – Provincial 211 to each piece being careful to cover the sides.

The stain I used was also left over from a previous project. It’s such a beautiful rich brown, not too dark. I used up what I had and needed and went back to Lowes to purchase another tin. I plan on using this stain for more projects in this room.

The majority of the pieces do not lay perfectly flat and I didn’t want any exposed edges to not be covered by the stain. I also applied one coat of stain to the plywood to make everything unified. Not only aren’t the pieces totally flat but they aren’t perfectly square either. By staining the entire board, I would avoid the light colour of the plywood revealing itself through any tiny gaps between each piece. You’ll see what I mean in the below pic.


After allowing the stain to dry, I tacked the pieces in place using a headless pin nail gun using headless nails. The headless nail is a very fine finishing nail with almost invisible heads leaving inconspicuous holes in the wood versus brad nails that make larger holes and would require an added step of me having to use wood filler to fill holes.

I bought this pin nail gun at Lowes. New tool! Yaaaay!

Note: I used quite a bit of nails to ensure the pieces would stay in place, but I could (maybe should have) used carpenters glue to adhere the pieces and use a lot less nails.

The next step was to seal the wood. I used two coats, coating the entire surface using Varathane. I had a small tin on hand too but needed more and also purchased from Lowes. 🙂

Varathane Professional Clear Finish – Satin

I then mitred along the length of two 2″x4″ lumber to make a French cleat to attach the headboard to the wall. These were scraps of lumber I had in the garage and thick enough to support the headboard. One length of board gets screwed in place on the headboard. The other, gets screwed to the wall. I located the studs to be sure I had plenty of support.

Note: This image does not demonstrate how the cleats are secured. It only illustrates the mitre cut. Better Homes & Gardens does a wonderful job demonstrating the right way on how to make a French cleat and how to secure it to the wall.

Here it is with all its perfect imperfections. I forgot to mention that I added trim to give the headboard a nice detail and cover up the rough edges of the board. Also, not sure if you noticed, but I added two pieces of the shelving along the bottom left and right side of the headboard. I did this so the headboard would look finished on either side of the bed.


Cost for the headboard:

  • pine shelving: $0.00
  • plywood: $52.66
  • wood trim: $30.47
  • Minwax stain (although it will be used on another project): $10.16
  • Varathane: (to be used on another project): $16.94
  • Total: $110.23

Remaining budget for this room: $1485.80 $1375.67

Next project? Computer desk. Source or make from scratch? Stay tuned!

If you have any questions or comments you wish to share, please free to pass them along. I’m anxious to hear from you!

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