DIY Queen sized Cedar Headboard and Footboard for less than $35.00

I am a crafty sort of person.  I have raised a crafty sort of kid.  Due to a punk-ass-snot-nosed kid who had a Big Mac attack one morning as I was on my way to work, I now also have vertebral damage which really curbs my craftiness to things that don’t weigh a whole lot and don’t require flexibility or strength.  Enter crafty kid, stage right. It is going to take me a minute to get to the headboard; hang on, we will get there!

My husband knows what a garden junkie I am and every year works really hard to expand our garden a little further.  Last year we sort of ran into the wall on how far we can expand it without violating municipal codes.  We can’t go out anymore, but we sure can go up!   He got the idea to make raised beds going up the side of our garden shed.  He was a union carpenter for a long time, so when he does things involving wood, there is always over planning involved.  He decided to make the boxes for the raised bed out of cedar fence pickets.  Cedar naturally resists rot, they are fairly inexpensive, and come in good dimensions.  Each is 6″ wide, 6′ long and 5/8 ” thick.  He decided we needed 50 of them.  I questioned the 50 and he gave me carpenter stink eye.  Okie dokie then.  I was a really big about not doing the “I told you so” when we had 25 of them left over.  Well, mostly.

So then we had 25 cedar pickets.  I have made raised beds out of cedar pickets before.  You can use three of them to make a 2′ x4′ x6″ raised bed, perfect for flowers. However, as I mentioned before, the city does not so much take a shine to our urban homesteading and I don’t think we can cultivate anything else without them citing us left and right.  We COULD have taken them back…  yeah, that wasn’t so much going to happen.

My amazing daughter and I were discussing how much we liked the cedar smell when we got the idea that we could use them to make headboards.  I measured my bed and it was 60″ wide.  PERFECT!  10 pickets!  She measured hers and it was 54″ wide.  9 pickets!   I was going to just leave them at 6 feet for a really tall headboard when my husband pointed out that we would never be able to open the window again. I tried to substitute my own reality that it would look great and who needs a window, but his reality won.  Damn him.  The kid came up with the idea that she could cut the bottom 2 feet off and make a foot board out of it.  She is a brilliant little thing!

This is her idea and design, and I didn’t think to grab the camera until she had already finished the Queen sized headboard and footboard for my bed.  I explained how she did it below and then got some pictures of her in action building her Full sized headboard.  Hopefully between the two you get the idea how to do it yourself.

DIY Cedar Headbard
She built these for less than $35.00.

The first thing she did was sort through the cedar pickets and find ones she liked. She was looking for straight ones that weren’t ragged on the ends and had “character.”  She used a tape measure and a square to mark all of them at 24″ from the bottom.  Then, she cut all of them at the 24″ line with a circular saw and stacked them into two piles by length.  Using a bench that she and her step sisters have been building as support on one end and a chair as support on the other, she laid out two pickets that would be the horizontal cross support and frame for the headboard and footboard.

Using the square she lined up all of the vertical pickets and made sure they were square on both ends.  Then she started screwing them in using an electric drill and 1.5″ drywall screws.  She didn’t like that so much. The drill she was using is daddy’s from when he did construction and had WAY more torque than she wanted.  Cedar is a soft wood and the screws kept pulling halfway or more through the wood.  She finished attaching the pickets along the top and then after discussing her options with dad decided to switch to ring shank nails.  She finished nailing the bottom of the vertical pickets to the cross support and the headboard was finished.  She repeated the process for the footboard, however, only using one horizontal support since the footboard is only 24″ high.   In all, she used 13 pickets at $2 each, half a box of drywall screws at $6 and a 1/3 of a box of ring shank nails that were all of $3 bucks.  If you don’t have to buy any fasteners, you can do this for about $26.  With fasteners, it was $35.

Here is her Full sized headboard in progress, so you can see the steps.

Full size headboard       First she measures her cut on the vertical picket.  She didn’t want her headboard to look like mine, so rather than do a straight line at 36″, she made the center picket (she has a full, so her headboard needs 9 pickets) 36″ then each picket beside it is 32″ inches, the next picket to the outside is 34″, the next is 28″ and the outside pickets are 30″ creating an overall crowned and staggered effect.  It will make more sense in the finished photo.

Making the cuts
Budding carpenter.

After getting all of her vertical pieces cut, she cut her horizontal supports to reflect 54.”  Then she mocked it all up to make sure it was square before she started nailing.  DIY Cedar Headboard     You can see the horizontal support board in the left hand side of the photo and at the outside right as it is supported by a bench.

Checking to make sure it is square.

She was very meticulous about making sure it was square.  You can see the staggered top she has given it.  The boards were cut in two inch increments but then laid out to create the effect.  This actually took longer to explain in words than it did for her to do it.  It is a very quick process.

The girl can really swing a hammer.

So I managed to get a finished picture of my headboard and footboard but no process.  I got photos of the process of hers with no finished product.  Brilliant.  I just braved a trip to teenaged girl bedroom to get a photo of it in situ.  *shudders*  Here is a picture of it on her bed, in her room and as I type she is still pissed off about my foray into her space.  Still.  Yup, still. Egads, does it ever end? Oh, wait, the end is near, she stomped her foot.  Ah… the angry is trailing off down the hall.  Finally, its over.       It really was a very simple process and it can be done easily if you have a circular saw, hammer and nails.  Even if you don’t have a circular saw, many hardware stores will cut the wood for you.  You will need 13 pickets for a Queen (10 vertical and two horizontal for the headboard and 1 for the footboard), 12 pickets for a full, unless you only want a headboard in which case it is only 11; 9 for the vertical, three for the horizontal supports.  Looks like a twin is around 36″ which would be 8 pickets for a headboard, three for the supports.

You can be creative in the construction, you don’t have to make it even or square.  Anyone can do it with little or no skill.  Attaching it to the bed frame depends largely on the bed frame,  Some can be screwed directly to the frame, others will need metal brackets to attach it.  You can go to a hardware store and wander the hardware isle until you see the right piece of metal for the job.  Remember that this is YOUR project; you decide what is right and what looks good.  Own it!

It is important to note that cedar is soft wood.  The headboard and footboard will not be built like Fort Knox.  It will come apart if you are too rough with it.  To make it more solid, you should use glue and screws.  If you aren’t treating your bed like a gymnasium, the methods my daughter used should work great to create rustic, beautiful and aromatic furniture.  She made this for me about a month ago and the cedar fragrance has slowly diminished.  I hit it with a sanding block and the cedar smell came right back.  You *CAN* do it!


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