My daughter asked me a while ago to build her a headboard. It took a while because of other projects but was finally able to complete it this weekend.

I decided to use some old fence slats that I got off Craig’s List. I had already used some of the slats to build some vertical

Here’s my procedure:

Build the frame

I measured things out and built out a frame using 2 x 4’s. I wanted to make sure it was sturdy since she’d be leaning against it. If I were to do it over I would use bigger brackets and put them on the inside of the frame. I had them on the outside so they interfered with my nails. Or, even better, I’d use a pocket hole jig and just use long screws without brackets.

Arrange slats and secure to frame

I pulled out a bunch of slats that were varying colors and textures. Once I was happy with the set up I started nailing them into the frame using a pneumatic nailer I got at a yard sale. This was my first experience using it so it took me a while to find the right gauge and length of the nail.

The first brads I used were too thick and didn’t work in my nailer. The next ones I bought were 1 inch and didn’t hold the slats in well enough. I tried 1.5 inches but they didn’t fit in my nailer (you can tell I had a couple of trips to Home Depot). It was worth it because my closest Home Depot has the prettiest view of probably any Home Depot in the US — it looks out onto Red Rock Amphitheater.

I finally landed on 1.25-inch brads and got everything nailed in. I also put a couple of screws through each slat into the frame in a place that wasn’t visible.

I used my circular saw to cut off the bottoms of the slats. Probably didn’t need to do this since it wasn’t visible when the bed it put on the frame but did it anyway.

Cleaning and finishing slats

So, all the slats were secure to the frame by now. I took a heavy wire brush and cleaned off the wood really well so pieces of wood wouldn’t be falling off in the years to come. It didn’t affect the look of the wood very much.

The side of the 2 x 4 frame was visible so I used my table saw and chop saw to cover it up.

The top of the headboard was uneven and natural looking. Some of the slats I used had decayed a bit since they had been below dirt level. It look pretty cool once I had it cleaned up. So, I put on a coat of satin polyurethane. I don’t think a high gloss or semi-gloss would have looked right.

My daughter decided she didn’t like the uneven top. She came up with a design she wanted. So, I cut it straight across the top by hand using a jigsaw and then used a Frisbee hanging on the wall to mark off the rounded corners. Then I used the jigsaw again. If this was my bed I would have put on another coat of polyurethane but my daughter didn’t feel the need for another coat of it, so onto the installation.

Secure the headboard to the frame

I marked where I was going to bolt the headboard to the frame and then drilled four holes into the headboard. I pounded the bolts into the wood so they were secure, and then put on the washers and the nuts. I just had to put on the box spring and mattress.


Overall, I’m happy with how things turned out and my daughter is happy that the headboard is done. As I mentioned above, I would build the frame with pocket screws instead of brackets and put one or two more coats of polyurethane.

Now I just have to go out and find more fence slats to do more of these types of projects.

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