Turning a Door into a Headboard

My wife Anita and I bought an old door off of Craigslist a few months ago with the intentions of using it as a headboard for our full size bed in our spare bed room. This type of “recycled” work is new to me but it’s all the rage nowadays and my wife has just opened up a business called Bella Chic Decor where she rehab’s old furniture. We’ve been antiquing for a few weeks picking up a whole bunch of old furniture to build up her inventory and she spends time sanding and repainting it. She also has rented a space at a local antique store to sell her stuff.  She’s been doing really well and the furniture she rehab’s looks the bomb so her future looks bright.

Once we got this door home I needed to measure it and decide where to cut it in half so it would work as a headboard. I ended up using three panels of the five panel door in order for the design to make sense. Cutting the door was the easy part. I whipped out my Festool panel saw and cleanly ripped the door in half. Then I filled the door knob hole and latch with scrap wood and putty.

Turning the door into a headboard was a sinch. I knew the headboard needed to be at least 54″ long in order to fit the bolt holes for the full size bed frame so I added extra wood on each side from a 2×8 ripped down to 6 1/2″.

For the top, I simply added a piece of 3 1/2″ wide ash I had lying around and nailed it to the top with my pneumatic finish nailer. From there I cut and nailed a piece of crown molding I bought at Home Depot.

After I was done, Anita painted the headboard with chalk paint and applied a coat of dark wax then clear wax on top in order to protect the finish. The old door really came out nice and makes a stunning headboard.

Making a Bed Part 3

Well it’s been a tough few days with my dog Rylee passing away but I finally pulled myself together and put the finish on the bed.

After sanding the parts to 220 grit sandpaper, I applied a Brown Walnut analine dye to the bed. I diluted the dye to a 4:1 distilled water:dye solution and applied a liberal amount to the bed with a sponge wiping off the excess. I’ve been told to use distilled water instead of tap water because the minerals in tap water may change the color of the dye.

The dye turns all the wood to a uniform color creating a base for the gel stain that will cover it. After I washed the bed with the dye, it looked like I grabbed a handful of mud and smeared it all over the place but I realized it’s just the first step in the process.

After the dye dried, I needed to coat the bed with de-waxed shellac so that the gel stain won’t penetrate the wood too much making the wood appear blotchy. I create my own 2 lb cut shellac by diluting 4 ounces of shellac flakes to 16 ounces of denatured alcohol. I keep the shellac in an empty glass maple syrup container.


Once the shellac is applied, the bed turned darker but was still nowhere the color I wanted it be. My wife came downstairs to look at the progress I was making and told me she hated the way it looked. I told her not to worry as I was only half way done.

Allowing the shellac to dry overnight, I was ready to apply my first coat of stain. I used one coat of General Finishes Nutmeg Gel Stain applying it with a piece of an old t-shirt and wiping off the excess with another piece of old t-shirt. I used a dry paint brush and brushed away any swirl marks left by the t-shirts. Fortunately the bed started to take on a brownish color removing the mud look after I applied the stain .

For the next color I used Minwax Rosewood Gel Stain but before I applied it, I coated the bed with another coat of shellac so that the new color won’t affect the nutmeg color giving the finish more depth.

Now the bed has the reddish hue color I’m looking for. All that is left to do is apply the top coat with Arm-R Seal polyurethane oil combo. Three coats of the Arm-R-Seal coat and a lightl sanding of 600 grit sandpaper and parrafin oil, the bed was ready to be put back together.

The bed is finally done and I was pleased with the outcome. It took me longer than the month I promised my wife but she was fine with the delay. I forget how much the bed actually cost me to build since I threw away the receipts, but if I believe it was around $300-$400. A far cry from the $1699 Pottery Barn wanted for their bed. Now to take it apart again and drag it upstairs.

Making a Bed Part 2

Well it’s been a few weeks since I blogged about making a bed for my wife but the month of October had some really nice weather. So nice that my wife and I decided to use the days to redo our screened in porch. Once that project was done, I moved back to the bed.

After the feet were turned and the top legs were made, I cut a couple of mortises in them to accept tenons for front panel. The tenons were cut using a router and hand saws and are about 3″ wide.

Next I needed to make the beaded details for the front panel and sides. I used my sticking board and a No 6 hollow molding plane to shape a round over on one side of a piece of wood that was 1/2″ thick x 1 1/8″ wide.


Glueing the beaded detail onto the boards was a synch with my Bow Clamps. The front panel only needed one bead on the bottom while the sides needed two. One on top and one on the bottom.

The top of the front panel is glued down in place with biscuits so that no visible fasteners will be seen. Once everything is glued together, the front panel is complete. The next part is focusing on the headboard.


The headboard started with a design on a 1/4″ piece of melamine hard board . I traced the pattern onto a piece of 1 3/4″ soft maple stock and cut it out on the bandsaw. Then I took another piece of 1 3/4″ and laminated a piece of 1/2″ on top of it to make the thickness I needed for the top rail of the headboard.


I shaped the bed rail into form by using my hollow molding planes. Using the right sweep of plane makes the job simple and quick to do. After cutting the tenons on the bed rail, I cut a sample tenon to use as a gauge to figure out where I needed to bore the mortise on the headboard sides.



Once I determined the location of the mortise, I simply bored it out with an auger bit and cleaned up the sides with a chisel. I then worked on the headboard rail bottom and the bottom rail for the slats. To make sure everything fitted fine, I tested fitted all the parts together.


Next I wanted to focus on the coopered panel front. The bed at Pottery Barn had coopered panels that were flush with its sides. My wife wanted the same look so cutting a groove in the sides and in setting the panel pieces into the groove wasn’t going to work. After studying the Pottery Barn bed, I decided to build it in much the same way they did. I shaped two pieces in an S curve and glued it to the sides. I use this curved part as the way to connect the slats onto the headboard by screwing them through the back.


Making the slats was fun. I took 1/2″ thick by 3″ wide boards and cut tongue and grooves in them with my Stanley #49 plane. I opened up the joint a little bit so the boards would fit sloppy in the groove and bend around the S curve.


Once all the slats were cut, I dry fitted them to the headboard and attached them with screws.


Once all the slats were in place, I glued the feet to the bottom. My headboard was assembled.

Now I needed to assemble all the parts. I test fitted the bed hardware and how the rails would attach to the front panel and headboard with a scrap of plywood.

Once I figured out where each piece of hardware went, I screwed it on and test fitted the bed. Cutting out some bed support slats out of poplar and glueing a support bar on to the sides, the bed was ready for final assembly.

Now I need to sand the entire bed and stain it a dark mahogany stain my wife wants.

Making a Bed

So my wife wants to buy this bed she found in a Pottery Barn catalog. They want $1500 for it but I told her I could make it for $400 and be done in a month. Neither promise I’m sure I can keep but she gave me the okay to give it a shot.

After looking at the picture I calculated how much would I would need. I bought enough to get me started. I glued up 3/4″ material for the sides and the front frame and bought some 1 3/4″ stock for the sides of the headboard and feet.

I wanted to start on the front legs and feet. Both are 4″ thick but I didn’t want to use that much material for the legs so I glued up four pieces of 4″ material and cut them at 45 degree angles.

I then filled the middle of legs with a laminated piece of 2×4 material about 4″ long. This is so that I can drill a hole in the middle and glue the feet upon them.

Next were to work on the feet. I glued up two pieces of 1 3/4″ and one piece of 3/4″ maple 10″ long to become the feet. I then squared it up on the bandsaw and marked out the center.


I didn’t want to take a full square stock over to the lathe so I marked out an octagon on the ends to cut off at the bandsaw. The easiest way to mark out an octagon is to take you compass and place one end on the center and the other end at one of the corners. Now take that layout and move it to each corner and swing a mark on both sides. When you mark around all four corners you’ll have eight marks. Connecting the two marks at each corner creates your octagon.

Now take the wood over to the bandsaw with the table set at 45 degrees and cut off the corners. Now you’ll have a block of wood that is a lot easier and probably safer to turn.

I studied the picture as best as I could but had to rely on guess-work as to where the curves started and stopped on the foot. I drew out a drawing of what I thought it looked like but only used the drawing as a guide. In the end I just used my own guess-work to determine the overall design of the foot.

Next was the hard part. I had to duplicate the next three feet to look like my first one. I used the original foot as a template and measured the diameters of all the curves and valleys with calipers so I could duplicate them. In the end I was happy with the way they came out even if they aren’t exact duplicates. Being that they will eventually be five to six feet away from one another, I don’t think anyone will tell.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and let you know when my wife gets impatient.