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Start by measuring the width of the bed and cutting the wood to that length. Save your scraps; you'll need them later. A twin bed measures 39 inches wide, so make the length of the boards 42 inches long. The extra length will allow for blankets. Using a power miter saw, cut the ends of the board into points, just like a picket fence. To do so, find the center of the board, not the length, but the width, and make a pencil mark. Measure down the length from the end 2 inches and make another pencil mark -- that's the angle for the picket cut. Make the cut with the miter saw along that angle.
Using latex satin interior paint -- red, white and blue -- wash the boards with the paint. Use an old T-shirt or sock to apply the paint; you want the wood grain to show through the paint. Since you're creating an American flag, do every other one, red then white. Cut the scrap pieces of lumber from Step 1 to a length of 16 inches. Once they are cut, paint the boards blue.
Lay the boards on the floor, paint side down (do this on a drop cloth to protect the wood and the floor). The top board should be a red board, then white, and so forth. Cut two pieces of 1 x 4 to the width of the headboard minus 2 inches so they will be hidden behind the flag. These will be the back support. Attach to the back using 1-1/4-inch wood screws, making sure each board gets attached to the supports. For extra strength, cut a board that will be placed at an angle between the two support boards.
With the stripes facing you, place a board that has been washed blue in the upper-left-hand corner. You may want a partner to help hold this board into place because you will be screwing in from the back. Attach the board and work your way across until you run out of boards.
Drill pilot holes through the back support boards and attach to the frame using lag bolts. If you want, the headboard can be attached to the wall. Just pre-drill pilot holes through the headboard. Place into position on the wall. Push an awl or nail through the pilot holes to mark the location. Remove the headboard and drive self-anchoring Mollys into the wall at the location of the marks. Hold the headboard back in place and attach to the wall using drywall screws. Touch up the screw heads with paint. Stand back and salute a job well done.
There are many variations of headboards you can build. Experiment and you can come up with new and interesting ways to dress up a standard bed frame. One word of caution -- the hardest part is making sure the headboard is attached safely to the bed. That's why I strongly suggest mounting the headboard directly to the wall. It's easy to do, and a lot safer.
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