How to make a headboard that is inexpensive and one of a kind, using branches and twigs.
Difficulty: Medium to Hard ( depends on how difficult you decide to make it)
Time scale: 5+ out of 5 (Less if bark is not stripped from wood)
The main branches I used were schubert chokecherry. Many different kinds of wood are suitable. The types of wood that I would NOT suggest using are Poplar, spruce or Laurel Willow. Other kinds of willow will work well.
So, do you want to know how to make a headboard for your bed, that is a rustic, unique piece? It may not be the typical way of doing things, but it works. I use screws, not nails. If you have a drill with a Robertson attachment, it is easy to put the screws in. It is not only easier, it is faster than using a hammer and nails.
These measurements are for a king size bed. Adjust your measurements accordingly, for the size of your bed. Determine the placement of the legs by measuring the distance between the holes on the brackets of the metal bed frame. The measurement for our king size bed frame was 74.5 inches across, center to center. Outside frame measured 76.5 inches wide.
The diameter of the branches used will obviously change the measurements for the project. The length required for the cross pieces will also be dependent on the diameter of the bedposts.
The more flexible you can be, the easier time you will have putting this together. These instructions on how to make a headboard, will also require using your own imagination. It is hard to give exact measurements. No, let me rephrase that... It is impossible to give exact measurements, when branches can vary so much. Even the diameter of one branch from top to bottom can change, which will also change other measurements involved.
I have done a few twig projects but this proved to be the most difficult for me. Mostly because I started obsessing over it. Too many branches sticking out, probably wasn't going to be a good idea. It had me thinking about getting my hair tangled up in it in the middle of the night. Can you imagine what that would look like in the morning? Twigs wound up in my hair like a crazy birds nest or half my hair ripped out and hanging in bunches on the headboard. I don't want to be part of either one of those scenarios.
Dusting this was also a consideration. Small branches get dry and brittle over time and break off if they are bumped. I don't want branches on my pillow. Bringing the great outdoors inside, should only go so far.
I put more thought into this than you could possibly imagine, believe it or not. Now that you have heard about some of my obsessing, should we get on with it?
Cut all branches to the approximate length required. Use a sharp knife to peel off the bark. (Except the small branches). If you don't have the time, the bark can be left on. Your headboard will just have a different look to it. Instead of staining it, you could then just apply a sealer. Putting on the stain is quite time consuming. I used Minwax Polyshades. It is a 1 step product with the stain and finish all in one. It was kind of a pain to use and I wasn't sure I liked the color. After it was finished I decided it was fine because it actually matches my other bedroom furniture.
Sand pieces after peeling, if necessary.
Cut two 3-4 inch diameter branches around 56 inches long. One can be longer than the other but should be quite a bit longer, if you do this. If it is only slightly longer, it will just look like a miscalculation with the measuring tape. Isn't that a nice way to put it? I would NEVER say it is because you don't know how to make a headboard. (Actually, it will look like you can't measure.) These pieces will be for the bedposts. I put this bird nest decoration on one side.
Place the bedposts so they run vertically. Measure from the center of one, to the center of the other. If you have a king size bed they should be placed 74.5 inches apart, on center.
Measure the distance between each, on the inside. This is where the measurement will vary depending on the diameter of your bedposts. Cut a 2-3 inch diameter branch to fit in here. Attach about 27 inches up from the bottom. (Adjust this for the height of your bed so it is just above mattress level.)
Whose thumb is that I see? Not mine. You thought I made this all by myself, didn't you? Sometimes, even if you already know how to make a headboard, it's nice to have help.
Predrill holes through the side of the bedposts and screw in place. Have various lengths of screws available. Use one that is long enough to go through the bedpost and well into the cross piece.
Do two more pieces that go all the way across from one bed post to the other. One at 35 inches up from the bottom and another at 44. Check the length and angle between the bed posts and cut accordingly. Always predrill the holes and then put the screws in. This will prevent the wood from cracking.
Now add pieces that are angled down and go from one bed post to the center of the headboard. Put in enough branches that the headboard doesn't twist and seems more stable. Hook pieces together from the back side, so the screws won't show.
Use smaller twigs and branches to weave in and out of the larger branches. Attach these using small finishing nails.
If you are going to stain your headboard, it is actually a good idea to stain it before adding these smaller pieces. I'll show you why....
Even though for some reason, I find this picture REALLY amusing, it wasn't that funny at the time. Trying to stain this was a bit of a nightmare. I totally destroyed my paint brush! It would have been much easier to stain without all the smaller branches in the way. Then again, I wouldn't have had this totally amazing picture to show you!
Apply 2 coats of stain. Clean brush with paint thinner. If it looks like mine did, don't bother.
Now that you know how to make a headboard, you may be wondering how to hook it to the bed. Don't hook it to the wall! If you have a metal frame, there should be holes in the front brackets. All you have to do is use a small washer and a screw to attach the bracket to the bedpost. Use two screws on each bracket. Make sure the screw head won't slip through the washer. The outside diameter should be big enough that it won't slip through the hole in the metal bracket. Screw all the way in until tight.
It's all done! Now it's time to jump on the bed and test this out! Did I say that?
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