Building custom headboards for your clients is one sure way to set yourself apart from competition. Like so many other thingsóitís really very easy once you know how.
Everyone has slightly different methods for building headboards,
but generally the basic techniques are the same. Here is the method
I have used for many years.
The front and back of the headboard are cut out of plywood, usually
from a 3/8-inch thick panel. The legs of the headboard are made
of two-by-fours and run from the floor completely to the top of
the headboard to create part of its support frame. One piece of
plywood is nailed to the legs as shown in Illustration 1 with the
nail heads on the plywood side. A two-by-four or a two-by-two is
nailed horizontally across the bottom of the body of the headboard.
If the headboard is straight across the top, another two-by-four
or two-by-two is placed across the top.
Supporting pieces of two-by-twos are nailed vertically to the body
of the headboard from the plywood side. The number of supports used
depends upon the size of the headboard and how substantially it
is to be built. Usually two or three are used, as shown in Illustration
Next, the second piece of plywood is nailed to the other side of
the two-by-four headboard frame, creating a sandwich.
Itís that simple! The headboard now is ready to be padded and
PAD THE FRAME
A variety of materials can be used to pad headboards. Cotton upholstery
padding can be used and some workroom suppliers offer padding specifically
intended for cornices and headboards. I would wrap my headboard
frames with the same 1/4-inch thick foam I used on cornice boards
and then add a layer or two of quilt batting. The foam gives denseness
to the headboard while the batting provides plush softness.
Whatever padding is used, it is simply wrapped from the front around
the sides to the back and stapled into place. Or it can be trimmed
to the exact size and shape of the face of the headboard and glued
If the headboard is to be shaped, rather than being straight across
the top, then no two-by-four or two-by two is placed across the
top of the frame. Otherwise, the rest of the instructions are the
After the sandwich of wood has been created, the shape can be cut
through the full thickness, as shown in Illustration 3. This trims
the plywood, the support legs and the inner supports to the exact
desired shape all at the same time. If you do not have a saw that
will cut this thickness, the two pieces of plywood should be cut
to the desired shape before they are nailed to the headboard frame.
Whatever shape you are creating, it must be duplicated exactly in
both pieces of plywood. One easy way to do this is to clamp the
two pieces of plywood together and cut them at the same time. When
these pieces are then nailed to the two-by-four frame, the legs
will extend beyond the top at the corners of the headboard and will
need to be trimmed off.
Because no two-by-four or two-by-two frame runs along the top of
a shaped headboard, the finished sandwich frame will have a hollow
spot along the top edge between the two leg supports. This gap is
very easily covered by cutting a strip of 1/8-inch thick masonite
or other sturdy, but flexible material.
The width of this strip should be cut to match the thickness of
your headboard, usually about 2 3/4 inches at this point. The masonite
strip can be nailed along the top edge of the headboard using small
nails. The masonite will follow the shape of the headboard because
it will flex quite a bit without breaking. If your final shape has
a sharp angle to it and the masonite strip will not bend sharply
enough without breaking, thatís OK. Go ahead and break it to
fit the angle. This edge will be covered with the padding and the
break will never show.
Thatís all there is to it. Youíre now ready to pad and
Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC,
and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience
in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor
of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional