Pallet headboard: start-to-finish tutorial
Hello all! I don’t think I’ve posted much about it on my blog, but I’ve been on a major upcycling spree lately. Yes- we’re talking about vintage carboys, old fruit crates, discarded cable spools (all of which I have projects planned for) and, of course, PALLETS. Because pallets are the first lesson in Upcycling 101.
I had a few pallet projects planned, including a set of shelves and a wine rack, but they all took a backseat when I moved into my new apartment and my bed was uneven with the wall due to both an unfortunate heating vent and windowsill. My pillows kept slipping behind my bed in my sleep. Solution? Pallet headboard.
I took some inspiration from Google and Pinterest. I definitely liked the disassembled pallet look, with even edges, (maybe) some whitewashing or staining, and a distressed natural finish.
Unfortunately, as a young professional living in a yard-less downtown loft apartment, I lacked the power tools and space to create such a project. Fortunately, this country girl still has a good relationship with mom and dad. I made a quick visit to the homestead this past weekend to piece together my idea with my dad.
We started with a stack of pallet wood and this pretty (rough) sketch. Hey, I’m a journalist- not an architect. As it turned out, my late uncle had just disassembled a bunch of old (read: character) pallet wood for disposal. My dad had collected a few of the more knotted, distressed and cracked pieces beforehand.
(I warned you- “rough” sketch.) After we had the measurements figured out, my dad and I put together the backboard. We laid out some 2×4’s across my dad’s workbench. (That thing is solid metal and weighs a dozen and a half tons. That’s an exact figure.) The idea was to lay down the structure, clamp it for good security and just nail the pallet wood into it.
We started by nailing the top and bottom pieces in, just to make sure the back frame didn’t slide around during construction. We figured we’d have a gap, but we decided to address that concern when we came to it. I left a pallet overhang- about an inch and a half- on all sides of the 2×4 frame, just so there wasn’t anything showing if you looked at my headboard from an angle.
Top and bottom pallet pieces nailed in place! About halfway through the project, we decided to put some screws in as well, just to ensure the thing didn’t fall apart on my head while I was asleep. (I’m paranoid.)
Exhibit A: My dad with the power drill. Also, ignore all those little blocks of wood underneath. Those were just there to prop up the pieces of pallet wood, and weren’t used as part of the project.
Also, if you notice, we opted for random seams during the project, instead of a split center seam. We also chose to put pallets in order of random thickness, so we didn’t have uniform sizes.
Slowly piecing it together. We actually ran out of the larger sizes of pallet wood- a lot of the pieces were too cracked to hold together. We ended up ripping some of the smaller pieces on the power saw so we wouldn’t have a. an awkward gap or b. an even more awkward small piece. My pillows will cover the lower half of the headboard anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned.
Voila! All nailed and screwed together. Just a few more finishing touches.
We clipped out some of the nails that had gone through the project and reinforced the seams on the back that didn’t line up with the 2×4’s with some extra pallet wood.
I didn’t want to lose the distressed finish that came naturally from the aged pallet wood- but I didn’t want to bleed from splinters every time I touched my headboard either. My dad came to a quick solution- Scotch Brite- similar to that rough green material on the side of your dish sponge. I rubbed the whole headboard down pretty hard, which got rid of a lot of the dirt, gunk, slivers and crud stuck on the pallet wood, but left all the distressing, knots and patterns on my new piece of furniture. As soon as I saw my headboard in one piece, the whitewashing and staining ideas went out the window.
We used a power saw to trim down the edges that were uneven and filed them down as well. (Yes, that’s a metal file not intended for woodwork… shhhh. It was within arm’s reach and worked perfectly.)
And it was finished!
Revel in my pallet headboard glory. It took about four hours from start to finish, and cost absolutely nothing, since my dad had all the materials on hand. Fun fact- these industrial works-of-art sell for about $300 on Etsy.
I think it looks just perfect in my little apartment.