Friday, January 4, 2013

Pallet Headboard & Bed Frame - Part Two

Part Two of a three-part series (Go To Part OnePart Three)

This post is all about the pallet headboard itself.  This was a lot of fun for me, since almost all of my materials were free, so I could play around a lot with this.  Like most of my projects, I read up on other people's adventures before starting my own ... I found useful information here and here about using pallets as part of a project.

Before I could do anything else, I needed to find the raw materials!  I had one pallet left over from when I moved into the house, and found all the rest on the side of the road.  Keep an eye out on the free section of your local Craigslist (e.g., too, since businesses will often post these up.

Once I had the pallets brought back into the house and unloaded from my roof racks, I had to break them down.  I put a metal-cutting blade on my ancient Sawzall.

I then cut down the edge of the pallet, between the top board and the sides.

Once all the boards were out, I used a nail punch (and then just an old nail) to knock out the nail heads from the pieces so that they wouldn't destroy my saw blades

The edges of the boards were definitely not square, and I was using pieces from four different pallets, so I set up my table saw to rip them down to size.  The wide boards were cut to 4 1/2", and the thinner boards were cut to 3".  I ran through with the fence set just thin enough to shave the edge off, then set the fence to the final width for the second passes.
I definitely should have built a straight-line rip jig first, but didn't - it will be here for the next project, I promise.

Since I was using so many different pallets, the wood was all different thicknesses.  I ran them through a planer I borrowed (and sincerely miss now that I gave it back) until it was all 1/2" thick.  I don't mind some roughness / mismatch in the final product, but did want it to be a relatively smooth front.

Once everything was the same width and thickness, I was ready to start working on the headboard.  I laid it out piece-by-piece on the frame, making sure that the pallets fit closely together.  Not much to see here, but I tried to avoid any real pattern with the light and dark wood.

Once I was satisfied with the layout, I used a brad nailgun and some 1" nails to fasten them to the vertical slats.  I had to put some 3/4" strips along the very edge of the posts (set 1/2" back like the slats) to support them on the ends.

I had set aside most of my thicker boards, and I trimmed them down enough to completely frame in the 4x4 posts and run across the top front of the frame.

I put three layers of boards on the top of the headboard, with the first flush with the top facing piece and the second overhanging it by 1/2".  I cheated for the top board, since I didn't have any pallet pieces long enough to cover the whole thing.  So I used another piece of 5/4 stock, overhanging the second piece by another 3/4".  I like how it turned out, even if it's not a pallet exactly - it was free at a moving sale!!  I used lots of clamps for this one, so there wouldn't be any gaps.

And when it was all ready, we tied a pretty bow on it and waited for Christmas day!  Johanna loved the bed, and is eagerly waiting for me to finish off the stain and polyurethane coats - which will be the subject of Part Three!

Here is how it all turned out!

She picked out a stain color on Christmas, so part three will cover the staining process and final assembly.

See Part One
See Part Three

Tool List:
Table Saw
Belt Sander
Air Compressor
Brad Gun
Sawzall (w/ Metal-Cutting Blade)

Material List:
Four pallets!
1" brad nails
150-grit sandpaper

Idea sites:
Tommy & Ellie
Tommy & Ellie (again)


  1. Love this Andrew!! Everything about it makes me smile....the free base material...the random board design, the homemade with LOTS of love from a brother to a sister...and your sister's bragging on you when she showed me the pic on her phone! HA!

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