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Blog Cabin

How to Build a Fireplace Mantel Headboard (page 2 of 3)

Create a charming headboard by pairing a careworn fireplace mantel with a tufted upholstery backing.

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Step 4: Cut a Z Cleat Wall Hanger

Rip a 1" x 6" piece of wood at 45 degrees by tilting the table saw arbor (Image 1). This cut allows for the top half of the cleat to be connected to the mantel, with its bottom, weight-supporting partner, screwed to the wall.

Determine the top Z cleat location on the back of the mantel. If possible, recess the Z cleat on the mantel back so the transformed headboard will mount flush to the wall. To attach the Z cleat, first cut the Z cleat to length. Then, using the pocket hole jig, drill pilot screw holes (Image 2). Finally, connect the upper cleat to the mantel back, using clamps to hold it in place (Image 3). The lower cleat screws into the wall later.

Builder's Tip: The finished headboard should hang level on the wall, therefore, both Z cleats must create a level and flush wall hanging attachment system. When connecting the top Z cleat to the mantel frame, set the mantel upright so the mantel shelf is level. Attach the top Z cleat to the back of the mantel, assuring it is also level.

Step 5: Measure and Cut the Panel

Measure the dimensions of the mantel opening and cut the 3/4" plywood to fit inside this frame (Image 1). Dry fit the panel (Image 2).

Builder's Tip: Fabric and foam will be attached to the headboard plywood panel. Therefore, allow at least 1/8" space along the sides and top of the panel for the fabric to squeeze into the mantel frame.

Step 6: Prepare and Tuft the Panel

Label the top of the plywood panel and drill 1/8" holes to accommodate the upholstery needle and thread tufting design (Image 1).

Clean the drilled holes on the back side of the panel. Cut 1" foam to the size of the panel. Apply spray adhesive to the front side and carefully lay the foam in place. Press firmly to secure the foam. Trim away any excess foam. Cover the foam with upholstery batting. Wrap the batting around all four edges and staple to the back of the panel. Lay the tufting fabric over the batting and wrap it around all four edges. Staple the fabric to the back. Use a hammer to pound the staples flat.

Following the pattern of pre-drilled holes, run thread-loaded needle through fabric to create the tufting design (Images 2 and 3).

Builder's Tip: Tufting designs are endless. Topstitched, folded or pulled tufting, along with diamond patterns, boxes and other symmetrical shapes allow plenty of room for creativity. Buttons, shells, coins and other flat objects can be attached to reflect the character of the bedroom. The Blog Cabin 2011 headboard features knots in a box pattern to replicate the look of old mattress tufting.

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