How to build a Head Board with Lights from Pallet Wood
I was inspired to build my pallet wood headboard with lights after watching THIS video on Homesteadonomics YouTube Channel. The headboard was very simple to make, took very few tools and the cost was very minimal.
Tools and Cost
Total Cost: about $50, Total Time: about 16 hours, Tools Required: tape measure, saw (circular, miter, hand), hammer, drill
Affiliate links to some of the of tools I used in this video are below. Thanks for shopping we really appreciate it!
Compound Miter Saw
Nail Gun with Air Compressor
Pocket Hole Jig
GluBot glue bottle
Irwin Squeeze Clamps
What I use for SHOP SAFETY:
RZ mask for breathing protection
ISO Tunes for hearing protection
Construction of the Headboard Frame
I started with a couple of scrap 2″x6″ pine boards for legs. My headboard was inserted into the frame of my bed. The legs could be any dimensional lumber, it only needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the headboard material and be able to mount to the wall or the bed in some way. I cut these boards to 5 feet in length giving me about 3 feet of height for the headboard. The other 2 feet would be from the mattress to the floor.
I then used a couple of 2″x4″ pine boards for the bottom and top cross sections which completed the frame of the headboard. These 2×4’s were cut to 68 inches long giving me a total width of 72 inches or 6 feet. My bed is king size and 6 feet is the distance side-to-side. These cross pieces could be adjusted wider or narrower depending on the size of your bed.
Since I would be using pallet wood as the material for the exterior of headboard, I needed support in the middle of the frame to attach the variety of lengths of pallet slats. I used pallet risers cut to length between the top and bottom support of the frame. I also used pallet risers to frame out the location for the recessed shelf. The shelf would be 4 feet in length and about 6 inches in height. I also added a few smaller pieces of riser material throughout the frame at 1 foot increments in order to easily measure and cut the pallet slat material for the exterior.
Covering the frame with Pallet Wood
Adding the pallet slats to the frame was pretty simple, just match up slats of the same width to form a row across the frame. I mixed different colors and textures and worked from the top down. I used my compound miter saw for these cuts, but a hand saw would work as well. I attached the slats to the headboard frame with 2 inch finish nails shot from a nail gun, manually nailing the slats would work just as well.
I used slats for the rear of the recessed shelf as well as the top and bottom of the shelf. I used a couple of wider pieces of pallet slat to give the vertical edges a finished look.
The only 2 pieces of lumber that I purchased for this project were an 8 foot 1″x8″ and an 8 foot 1″x10″. The two boards were about $10 combined. I used the 1×8 for the finished sides of the headboard and the 1×10 for the finished top. For a decorative finish, I used my router along the under side of the top piece to cut a quarter round edge. I attached all of these pieces with the same 2 inch finish nails. These boards gave my headboard a depth of about 10 inches which was necessary for the design of my existing bed frame.
After everything was assembled I sanded the pallet wood headboard with an orbital sander and 80 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit sandpaper. The sanding took off all of the rough edges and dirt and gave the headboard a smooth finish. Then I stained everything with minwax dark walnut stain to match the rest of the bed frame.
Lighting and Electrical
To further customize the headboard I added some very inexpensive coach lights.
I drilled holes through the pallet slats to feed the wire through then ran 18 gauge lamp wire that I had on hand to wire the lights to switches that I mounted inside of the recessed shelf. I chose black switches and plates to blend into the headboard. Unfortunately, the switches and switch plates were more expensive than their basic white counterparts. Total cost for 2 switches and 2 plates was about $10.
I also drilled a couple 1/4″ holes into each corner of the shelf near the switch in order to feed a phone charger through.
Overall this pallet wood headboard with lights was very easy to build and it turned out great.
A few pictures from different angles to show more detail.
Check out my video for more information. Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any questions.
How far down from the top is the recessed shelf? Thanks
Sorry for the delay Mike! The shelf is about 6 inches from the bottom and appx 24 inches from the top.
Is there anyway you could explain the wiring for the lights a bit more? I’m not much of an electrician and would love to know how you got the lamps connected to the switch and then connected to the wall outlet? Thanks for the help!
Hi Tony. I used lamp wire, which I believe can be found pretty easily at at home improvement store in the lighting department. The lamp wire has the wall plug at one end and bare wires at the other end. I ran the wire up to a junction box that I mounted behind the headboard, then cut and attached two separate strands of wire to the lead wire to use as power for each coach light switch. I kept the wire separated as a “hot” side and a “neutral” side by using the manufacturer’s stamping which should only be on one strand of the two wires if you look closely. The hot and neutral wires were spliced together (3 wires each) with a wire nut, taped and covered by a plate in the junction box. I then ran the spliced wires up to the switches that were installed in the corners of the shelf, keeping the hot and neutral separate and attaching to the correct screws on the switches. From the switches I ran a short strand of lamp wire up to holes I drilled in the headboard where the coach lights were installed. I attached the lamp wire to the coach light wire, again keeping the hot and neutral wires separated.
I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading!
How bout a bill of materials? Blue print including dimensions?
Hi John, we’re not quite that sophisticated yet, but thanks for the suggestion, we’ll work on that in the future and maybe add plans for this project. Until then, do you have any specific questions that I can answer?
How sturdy is the head board? Is it attached to a metal bed frame or one you built? I want to “try” and build your headboard this weekend. Just not sure if I will need to attach it to the wall somehow..
Mine is sitting on top of the wooden rails of my existing wood frame bed. It’s an old water bed that had an ugly old headboard there in the past. My headboard is not secured to the bed, it’s just heavy enough and deep enough to stay in place. I think it could be mounted to any sort of frame by the legs that are below the headboard, or it could be mounted to the wall.
Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any other questions.
Nice work! I had a similar question as Tony except I am curious how you extended your electrical box on the wall behind the bed to handle the lamp switch/power?
If I understand your question correctly, the lamp wire has a plug on the end opposite of the junction box behind the headboard. It simply plugs into the wall like a lamp.
Hey Josh, thanks for the fast reply. What I was hoping to do was insert an electrical box in the headboard that had a switch for the lamp as well as an outlet for phone charger, etc. basically eliminating the need for a hole being drilled for a separate phone charger. Since I’m not an electrical mastermind I was hoping there was an easy and safe way to do this.
Thanks again for your post – looking forward to the build.
I was curious, I may have missed it but are there dimensions for a queen size headboard?
Sorry Stefanie, I don’t have the exact dimensions for a queen sized bed. I would measure the width of the mattress or frame and plan the headboard accordingly.
How many pallets did you need to complete this project?
I’m not sure, it was pallet wood that I had on hand from dismantling several pallets. I would estimate only one or two total.
Looks great! Where did you get the pallet wood? Im in LA thinking about going to pallet recycling facilities but thought Id ask you first 🙂
I made one – thanks for the idea of putting lights on it… lots of fun! I used old pine and pallet wood. Burned it to bring out the grain…
Hey Ben, thanks for the feedback! Yours looks great, good job!
Your framing was exactly what I was looking for! I have a herringbone design in my head for my bed that has an adjustable base & wanted a place to drop in an outlet. I love tall headboards, so recessed shelves are perfect. 6 years later & you’re still helping people!
That’s terrific! Thank you so much for the feedback!
Hola hermoso la verdad tu trabajo!! te quería preguntar si tienes el tutorial completo en video del paso a paso. Graciasssss
lo siento, no tengo un video paso a paso, solo las instrucciones en el artículo web
What are the dimensions of the shelf?
It’s about 4 inches deep, 4 inches tall and 4 feet long