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How to Build a Headboard From an Old Picket Fence

Learn how to make a headboard from some scrap wood and a salvaged picket fence.

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Courtesy of Design by Joanne Palmissano, Photo by Susan Teare

This rustic, chic headboard was made from a section of an old picket fence. The pickets were cut up into small pieces, cleaned and then refinished in a few different ways. Then the pieces were fitted into a frame made from more weathered lumber.

Materials and Tools

chop saw
scrub brush and a bucket of water/bleach solution
level, tape measure and a stud finder
drill and screws (size depends on thickness of your piece)
salvaged wood
salvaged picket fence pieces
sealer — varnish
wood glue

Cut Pieces

1. Determine the size of your headboard. We made ours 72" x 36".

2. Separate each picket fence piece and cut them into random sizes with the chop saw. We used a solution of bleach and water to scrub each piece clean. Let them dry.

Build a Frame

3. Build a frame for the headboard. We used scrap wood for the header, sides and bottom of the headboard, and a piece of beadboard for the back. Fasten the frame pieces to the beadboard from the back so the screws don't come through the front of the wood.

Before fastening the bottom piece onto the frame, do a dry-fit layout of the of picket fence pieces to make sure they fit horizontally so you won't have to make any lengthwise cuts. Remove the picket fence pieces and then screw the bottom board in place.

Create a Headboard Pattern

4. Create a pattern of your pieces. We left some picket fence pieces in their natural state, and we painted some and whitewashed a few others. Do not glue down any of the pieces until you are comfortable with your pattern and colors.

5. There will be some spaces that you will need to fill with smaller fence pieces. Place those pieces in random locations on the headboard and cut them out last after the rest has been glued down. This way you can measure the exact size and cut them to fit.

Add Finishing Touches

6. Glue all the pieces down and place a tarp over the top and weigh it down to help the glue adhere. Let dry. Varnish the whole piece. Let dry. Apply second coat. Let dry for a few days. Find the studs in the wall and screw into place behind the bed.

Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.