How To: DIY a Wood Block Headboard.

Monday, March 9, 2015

wood block headboard

Hey hey hey, ladies and gents, the DIY wood block headboard is done!  It's up and looking all sharp and modern on the wall and I'm doing a little butt wiggle dance in my seat as I write this!  Woo hoo!

removable wood block headboard
Well, carefully wiggling as I slipped on the stairs last week, fell down, went boom on my butt and have the world's biggest most rainbow-y bruise on it.  Yeowch, no fun.  But!  (ha ha, no pun intended) On a positive note, despite flailing like a maniac, I did not spill a lick of paint out of the container in my hand!  Priorities, my friend.

Right, but you're here to find out about our modern swanky DIY wood block headboard, not read about my rainbow rear end.

So, where did my inspiration come from?  On the ol' Pinterests eons ago, I pinned some cool wood block stuff.  I'd seen the blocks as floors and drooled all over myself then too.  The thought crossed my mind to do squares for the pantry floor but, I didn't want to repeat myself.  This headboard was one of the first things Mike and I talked about and agreed upon, the whole design shebang.  Ahem, over a year and a half ago.  Cough.  Anywhoo......

Thankfully I hadn't built it as Mike decided Finn needed a king sized bed just before Christmas last year.  So the stalling waiting panned out.  Whew.

Here's my supply list, in no particular order:
What was the total cost, sans tax, then?  About $78.29.

That's right.  Less than eighty bucks for a custom headboard.  Cha-ching!  Nice.

headboard corner
Yes, we have silly sheets.  We're silly people.
Now, there are a million different design-y ways to do this, depending on your desired results.  What I wanted?  Blocks of various depths randomly placed but linear, darker in tone with minimal sheen.

Start with the math first; figure out your headboard size.  I took a tape measure and measured up the wall while visualizing it in me beady head.  You could use paper or cardboard to mock up a size if you're a need-to-see-it person.

Once you know the size, figure your blocks.  I went with three depths:  1/2", 3/4", and 1" thickness.  After that, calculate the number of blocks needed, then tally up the length of post required based on all that.  Now you can shop!

Despite my valiant attempts at math, I still got nearly everything wrong.  I used to be pretty ok at math stuff too.  Alas.

First, the Home Depot guy cut the wrong size for the plywood backing (I asked for 32x84; I ended up with 30x84).  Then, despite knowing this, Lumber 101 duh, I momentarily forgot that the 4 x 4 is actually 3.5 x 3.5.  I guess that's why there was that ridiculous lawsuit about truth in labeling or whatever it was -- nominal versus actual dimensions.  Eye roll.  Anyway, I had to trim the plywood to 28" then a smidge off the length despite what my calculator said.  It was wrong.  Wrong wrong wrong.  Heh.

Ok, after the trim, I stained the posts whole trying to be smart so as to save myself from a super messy hassle and the enormous space taker-upper way of staining and wiping each individual cut block's sides.

At first I tried this stain* as it has polyurethane in it already, hoping to combine a step.

can of all in one stain polyurethane
Oh!  Look how tidy my workbench was!  Huh.
Buuut, didn't like the color, didn't like the dull flatness, didn't like it.  Bleech.  So I sanded it off then splurged, got Watco oil never having used it before but thought it would give me a more hand-rubbed look and I liked this color best.

Watco Danish oil can in dark walnut

staining 4x4's with Watco Danish oil
Two coats, wipey wipey, here's the result.
Only problem with the Danish Oil is that it's a massive dust collecting vortex so any little touch with dusty dirty gloves or floaties in the air....yeah, slurrrrrp.

I managed though, in case you were worried there for a moment.

So choppy choppy time with my uber super duper spiffy miter saw* that I'm swoony in love with.  (Anybody need anything cut?)  Holy mess but it was fun.  

168 blocks, 56 of each size.  Still!  Did not calculate right on my darn calculator for some whack-a-do reason.  I needed 24 more blocks.  So, oy, right, 64 of each size then.

cutting the 4x4's into blocks

My saw has a laser line so I measured for length then planted on a painter's tape guide to follow and off I went.  Choppity chop!

piles of cut wood blocks
Stacks o' blocks.
I test ran a few blocks on the plywood, noticed gaps and thought huh, yeah, seeing bare ply tucked in there will make me insane.  Stain the plywood.  I did the face and edges, and a little on the back side.  The back?  Yeah, I wasn't set on my hanging method so just in case the final choice resulted in the headboard off the wall, I wanted to make sure no bare ply was visible.

All righty. With the blocks cut, I tried the stain and...

testing stain on cut ends of wood blocks
...oh, I uh, rats, yeah, that's not what I was going for.  Hm, ok, think.  Think think think.  Oh boy.  Ssssaaanndpaaaper?  Aw dear.  Ok, yup.  Sigh.  Then I researched wood conditioner too as end grain takes stain differently.  Maybe this goo would be perfect.

And it was.  Smelly and fumey but perfect.

After hours and hours and hours and I-am-not-looking-forward-to-our-next-electric-bill hours later, like no joke, five hours, each block was sanded via palm sander.*  Break time! 

Next day I flooded each face with the stinky conditioner, waited a half hour then began the staining.

spreading on wood conditioner to cut ends
Whoa.  What a difference.
Again, because it's end grain, wiping made no difference so I let the stain soak in and dry.  I did not flood the surface as directed, rather brushed just enough on as I didn't want to drown the grain in too much color.  I was hoping for one coat but two days later coat one looked a wee chalky so coat two it was.

Finally, assembly time!  Finally! 

gluing wood blocks to plywood with construction adhesive

A couple splops of Liquid Nails on the back of each block, starting at the top corner and working down along the short edge, the blocks were going on.  I went column by column to manage straightness easier.

A quick dust off with a clean dry brush and it was spray poly time.  I opted for spray because, well, 192 blocks, people.

spray polyurethane can in satin
Workbench gettin' some use now, huh?  :)
Lastly, I enlisted my trusty helper Mike and we hung it on the wall.  Woo hoo!

My original idea was to hang the whole thing with these flush mount brackets.*  But the more I thought about it...more math trying to figure where on the wall and where on the back of the headboard so that it lines up, slides on hassle-free, level and stuff....ha, no thanks, too much math.  And with my track record on this project I didn't want an angry assistant, know what I mean?

My next idea was two of these brackets* which afforded less math but Mike wasn't sold on their abilities.  And honestly?  We both envisioned the headboard completely flush to the wall.

So, we screwed it into the studs.

velcro on wood block to conceal screws

As you can see above, I left a few blocks unglued and here's where the varying block heights were an extra advantage.  We screwed in from the front and with some self-adhesive Velcro,* I stuck the blocks on over the screws.  This way the whole shebang is removable without looking removable.  Sweet, yah? 

And there it is!  A budget-friendly DIY Wood Block Headboard!

wood block headboard installed on wall

My first ever DIY headboard!  My first ever headboard actually!  That probably seems a foreign concept but eh, that's my life.  Headboardless.

side view of wood block headboard on wall

Dammit if this doesn't read like it took me twenty minutes to build this thing, haha!  It took the better part of a coupla hours a day for a week or so.  A lot of nose-picking dry-time waiting.

closer view headboard wood blocks

Not a hard gig, just time-consuming.  Worth the effort.  Worth the effort of reorganizing the basement and building workbenches indeed.  It's like three projects in one!

updated wood block headboard image
And here it is in 2021!

closer view of wood block headboard with pillows

Catch up on the goings-ons and updates in the master bedroom by clicking here!

But yeah, wood block headboard DIY!  Checky checky check mark off the list!  Yay!

*The product links with asterisksss are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!


  1. Great headboard! I really like it. You've definitely got some Patience! (Lots of blocks!). Enjoyed your post as always.

    1. Thanks Cory! Yeah, patience was a virtue here but I knew in the end it'd all be worthwhile. Heh, yes, blocks for days! :) Thanks so much!

  2. Nice Collections of Headboards. Thanks for Sharing

  3. Very nice! Could you please tell me which kind of wood you used!?

    1. Thank you! The 4x4's were some kind of pine, Douglas fir possibly. Nicer hardwood would be fantastic I'm sure but this pine had a great grain.

    2. Thanks. My gf and I are in the process of making our own. We really liked the colors of yours so we are going for something kinda similar but instead of stainning the wood we are using a torch to lightly burn it. Were using 6x6 and the headboard will habe built in accessories like usb chargers, lightning, ipad docks, etc.

      Thanks again for sharing your creativity we will post here once its done.

    3. Oh wow that sounds fantastic! Oh I'm really looking forward to seeing it too! I'm glad this project was so helpful to you! Thanks so much!

  4. Almost done, BUT cant work on it this week. Maybe this week-end so you can expect some pictures next week, its coming along nice. My gf is verry happy we stumbled upon your project!

    1. Oh I'm so looking forward to seeing it! I'm excited that you're both excited! Thank you so much!

    2. Sure took much longer then i anticipated but its almost done. 4' x 8' of nice burned wood as a headboard! Heres 2 pictures

    3. Hol.E.Cow. Omg, that is AWEsome. Wow! That is so incredibly cool! Mike said he thinks yours is better than ours! Your girlfriend must be beside herself in excitement, oh my gosh. It's gorgeous.

      Can I share your photos and your name in my next blog post? I can't wait to see it up!

    4. Glad you like it! I really dont think ours is better then yours. Just different! Its on the wall right now. Im working on the built-in shelves and their accessories. There exactly the same blocks only there 3 blocks wide that go outward 12'' instead of 1''-4'' on both side fo the headboard. Our bed fits right between them . Sure, feel free to use anything i post You gave us the inspiration afterall. I probably wont be able to finish it this week tho. Too much to do argh!!

    5. Well, both Mike and I think your headboard is awfully incredible and we have pangs of jealousy! When you've got it all done (no pressure!), if you would, send along more photos and I'll share everything at once. Thanks for letting me share -- I can't wait to do so as it really is amazing.

      Don't you hate it when everything else gets in the way of project time?! ;) Thanks so much!

    6. Gave you a mention today!

    7. Haha nice! Well its been a while i know but i had a lot going on (renovating my sister whole new place plus moving her into it. Then holidays and now its us movnig and renovating (me my gf and the kid) to our new place as well in about 2 weeks. You wont hear from me for a couple of weeks but when you do you it will be because i managed to finally finish the board! Cant wait.

      Were thinking of doing a couple more of these boards to use as a wall in the wine cellar or something similar. It just adds a lot of warmth to any room.

    8. Wow, you have been seriously busy! I hope your move goes well! We're looking forward to seeing the whole thing completed for sure.

      Oh yeah, that'd be awesome, in a wine cellar? Oh yeah! I'm starting to think everything should be covered in wood blocks now! :)

  5. I like your blog a lot. Its informative and full of information. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I'm so happy I stumbled upon this on Pinterest! I'm in the process of buying our first house and THIS. IS. PERFECT. I love it! Thank you :)

    1. Fantastic! Congrats on the house purchase and I hope this turns out perfectly for you! Thank you so much!

  7. I have been your silent reader for a while, and now I think you should know how valuable and helpful the information and tips you have shared with us. Thank you for sharing. Would love to see your updates again and maybe we can share ideas and collaborate with each other in the future.

    1. Oh my gosh, what great compliments, thank you! So glad you've gotten a lot out of this!

  8. Looks good. But I think I would have done the same thing EXCEPT I would have used several different stains on the blocks for a greater effect

    1. Thank you! Indeed there are lots of ways to do the finishing -- glad this gave you some cool ideas! Thanks!

  9. Loved the head board but will never to it, but put it up on my Pinterest board. Re instructions, your sense of humor and the lingo used to express yourself was delightful--stand-up comedy material. Thanks for a delightful read!

    1. Aw, I'm sorry to hear it's a project you won't be tackling but thanks for reading and pinning! And thank you too for the super kind compliments! You've made my day!

  10. Igot very giddy(if that is a word) when I saw iot. I love everything made out of wood. It is BEAUTIFUL. I'am still giddy.

    1. Giddy is absolutely a word and I'm giddy you're giddy! Thank you so much!

  11. I LoVe, love, love your eNerGY, paSSION and aRt!!!!


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