Woodworking Plans

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DIY Captains Bed Plans Free

A DIY headboard is an easy, beginner friendly project with great impact. It can improve the look and feel of a bedroom in such a big way!

We made a DIY headboard as part of our DIY bed frame. However, many people already have a bed or mattress with box spring, yet they may still want to build a beautiful DIY wood headboard.

In this detailed tutorial, I will share with you how to build a free-standing wood headboard that looks just like ours to go with any type of bed! The free plan is showing a queen headboard, but I have included variations for you to build a DIY king size headboard and twin size headboard at the end.

If you want to build a wood platform bed integrated with a headboard, you can check out our DIY bed frame tutorial here!

Choosing wood for your DIY headboard:

I talked a lot in our DIY bed frame tutorial about wood species and how to choose wood for strength, work-ability and beauty. Select wood with nice grain, few  cup and twist, and no splits. Keep in mind that knots are very dense, making them hard to drill and cut through.

Do NOT use pressure treated lumber, there can be toxic chemicals in them! Read more about choosing wood here ( in Step 1 ).

You can use this plan to build a pallet headboard.

However, some pallet wood are not good choices. Before you start on a DIY pallet  headboard, please check out this detailed guide on how to find, select, and work with pallets!

How to find, select, and work with pallets!

Materials and tools for wood DIY headboard:

Note: lumber size is for queen headboard. See variations at the end for twin or king headboard. Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Step 1: Prepare the wood for your DIY headboard

Sand all the cut surfaces with 120 grit sand paper to remove any splinters, and sand the front and side wood surfaces with 300 to 400 fine grit sand paper to make them super smooth!

Step 2: Build the center panel of the wood headboard

First decide the layout of your DIY headboard. Look at each post and slat, and choose the best looking side to face front. This is such a fun step to get the 1 last update 2020/08/07 a glimpse of the finished wood headboard!First decide the layout of your DIY headboard. Look at each post and slat, and choose the best looking side to face front. This is such a fun step to get a glimpse of the finished wood headboard!

We propped up the 1×4 slats and arranged them so that the various wood grains and knots look natural when put together. You wouldn’t want all the knots to end up on one side, right? 🙂

After getting a layout you like, mark the back of each piece with a number because we will be building our DIY headboard with the front side facing down on the work table.

To create the center panel, first drill all the pocket holes using a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig on the 1×4 braces ans 2×4 top & bottom piece as shown in plan below.

Lay the 1×4 slats on a flat surface, arrange the wood according to the numbers we marked on the back. I folded thick magazine covers 3 folds and used them as spacers between the slats. This is not just for looks. Why?

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Have you heard of the terms “shiplap wall” , “tongue and groove flooring”, or ” floating panel door”? They are everywhere, we take them for granted. Here’s the reason behind all these designs features-

Considerations for wood movement. Wood fibers swell as they absorb moisture and shrink as they release it, causing the wood to expand and contract across the grain. A 12″ wide board can expand or contract by 1/8″.

If you add all the 1×4″ slats, we have a total of almost 1/2″ of wood movement. If these 1x4s as placed tightly together during a dry month, the headboard can bulge when air moisture goes up. These little spacers will give the 1 last update 2020/08/07 the wood rooms to move.If you add all the 1×4″ slats, we have a total of almost 1/2″ of wood movement. If these 1x4s as placed tightly together during a dry month, the headboard can bulge when air moisture goes up. These little spacers will give the wood rooms to move.

Check for square by measuring the entire panel from corner to corner. If the measurements aren’t the same, push the long corner towards the middle of the structure until they even out. Once identical, the panel is perfectly squared.

Hold the wood in place with bar clamps, screw the 1×4 braces to the slats using 1″ to 1.25″ wood screws, 2 for each slat on each end. See below.

Attache the center panel to the posts using 1.25″ and 2.5″ Pocket Hole screws  as indicated on the plan. You can have the panel flush with the posts, or create a little offset. We laid the panel of slats flat on some 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick plywood and propped the panel up a bit to create an offset when attaching panel of slats to the posts.

Below is our finished DIY headboard! Because it is integrated with our DIY bed frame ( tutorial here), we have those brackets and a 2×6 bottom rail.

 

How to adapt this DIY headboard plan to any size bed, such as a king bed, a twin bed, with or without headboard, etc.

The plan below is for a king size headboard. The back support structures of a DIY king size headboard is the same as the queen size headboard. Just add 16 inches to  the length of all the horizontal components: the 1x4s and 2x4s.

To build a twin size headboard, you don’t have to use 4×4 posts. 2x4s will look nice in that scale. See the twin size headboard plan below.

The bottom slat is 11″ above ground. You can adjust this height according to the height of your mattress. The wood slats should come 8″ to 12″ below the top of mattress.

Best natural finishes for your wood bed frame and headboard:

For our DIY headboard, I gave the boards a light gold stain using Recipe #7 in this tutorial: Easy Homemade All Natural Wood Stains with 7 Recipes!

Easy Homemade All Natural Wood Stains – 7 Recipes!

If you want to paint your wood headboard, a beautiful option is a whitewashed wood finish using non-toxic paint.  Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways-

How to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways

My favorite wood finish is an all natural furniture wax made from bees wax and olive oil. I learned this recipe from a wooden toy maker. It has a lovely honey smell! You can find the details here at the end of our for 1 last update 2020/08/07 the DIY wood crate project-My favorite wood finish is an all natural furniture wax made from bees wax and olive oil. I learned this recipe from a wooden toy maker. It has a lovely honey smell! You can find the details here at the end of our the DIY wood crate project-

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I also selected some great natural wood finishes you can find on Amazon-

You may also love: 30 beautiful pallet wall and shiplap wall DIYs!

Happy creating!

Reader Interactions

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Comments

  1. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Morgan Shaw

    Very beautiful and interesting post! looks super stylish! I wish I could be as creative making things like this as I am with drawing! x

  2. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for cassie cassie

    What a clever idea for a headboard! I never knew it could be so easy to make my own that looks so fantastic – a perfect statement piece for a bedroom

  3. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Mallory

    Wow, this is amazing! I never would’ve thought about making my own headboard but your helpful steps really demystified the process. I’d love to try to make this with the pallets!

  4. Mary

    This headboard looks beautiful and easy enough that I think I can actually make it. I have a guest bedroom that I have been wanting a new headboard for. I just might give this a try!

  5. Stephanie the 1 last update 2020/08/07 Cruz Stephanie Cruz

    Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for

    Love the rustic antique feel of this headboard! I’m itching to get a new one for my bed but looking at the price points in the market just makes me nod no.. so this DIY will defintely come in handy.. will probably just let boyrfriend do the measuring and ill do the the 1 last update 2020/08/07 painting.. Thank you for sharing!Love the rustic antique feel of this headboard! I’m itching to get a new one for my bed but looking at the price points in the market just makes me nod no.. so this DIY will defintely come in handy.. will probably just let boyrfriend do the measuring and ill do the painting.. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Jessica Bradshaw

    It looks so good! I love your inspiration photos too. Y’all did such a great job. Looks like something we could do.

  7. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for imgrum

    I can’t call it easy 😀 I love the idea so much!! I love the simple design. Thank you for sharing the detailed tutorial

  8. Chelsea Montrois

    I’m about to finish gathering my materials to try this out! Thanks for the in-depth tutorial!

    I’m a bit confused on the materials used for the headboard, though– hoping you can clarify! The bed frame tutorial says that the bottom-most horizontal piece on the headboard should be a 2×6—to match the 2×6 across the foot of the bed. However, this headboard tutorial says there should be a 2×4 at the bottom instead. Is the 2×4 used only if it is a stand-alone headboard (no frame)? Which should it be if I am making the whole bed?

    Further, the materials list indicates that nine (9) 1×4 pieces should be attached to the 3 vertical supports on the headboard, but it looks like there are ten (10) horizontal pieces in the photo, with the bottom piece slightly narrower than the 9 above it. Did I miss something in the instructions?

    Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Thank you!
    Chelsea

    • anandaananda

      hi chelsea, great questions 🙂
      1. the bottom-most horizontal piece on the headboard can be a 2×6 or 2×4. because 2x6s lumber gives extra room to create the holder for the stringers of the bed, that’s why 2×6 was used here. if you use a 2×4, you will need joist hanger there to hold the stringer for the bed.
      2. you are right! (10) 1x4s, i will change that, thank you!! 🙂

  9. Willie Willie

    What kind of wood did you use for the the 1 last update 2020/08/07 headboard?What kind of wood did you use for the headboard?

  10. Linda M. Thomas

    I wish I have my own equipment to do my DIY headboard. I have a lot of ideas of wooden headboard but how can I do?! Anyway, thank you for the great tips of making a headboard.

  11. Paula M Bhagyam

    Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I am making this bed. So far things are going well. However, my husband thinks that the connections made with via Kreg jig will not hold well enough. Does anyone have any opinions or suggestions about this issue?

    • anandaananda

      Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for

      hi paula, our bed has held up great for over 2 years now. i think it’s very strong if you choose the right wood ( see the materials section ) for structural strength. traditional joinery would be strongest, but requires a lot more work. 🙂

  12. Katie

    I am so excited to be working on this headboard and bed frame! Thank you for sharing and inspiring. One thing I’m wondering about- are the horizontal 1x4s flush with the face of the 4x4s? Studying your photos it appears there’s a slight depth. I’m the 1 last update 2020/08/07 trying to figure out the best way to attach the center piece to the 4x4s. Did you simply lay everything flat?I am so excited to be working on this headboard and bed frame! Thank you for sharing and inspiring. One thing I’m wondering about- are the horizontal 1x4s flush with the face of the 4x4s? Studying your photos it appears there’s a slight depth. I’m trying to figure out the best way to attach the center piece to the 4x4s. Did you simply lay everything flat?

    Thank you!

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