DIY: How to Make A Reclaimed Pallet Wood Headboard

The story of our guest room headboard begins with a haunted house.

Last fall, we began a quest for projects that are cheap or free, and not junk. To make cheap or free things, you have to start with some materials, so that led to searching Craig's List for free wood. 

I found one posting that described piles upon piles of boards, all free, and already weathered. The coordinates for the property were listed, but no way of contacting the owners. They'd had a haunted house for a couple years, but had torn it down. This was the last weekend before the wood was going to start going to the dump.

So, I convinced Brian that this would be a good way to spend a day, and with four month old Edison sleeping in the backseat, we drove across the valley to a deserted field, with piles of lumber. It was a little creepy still, but we dug through the piles of wood of all shapes and sizes and conditions and hauled off a several great boards. 

I'd also lined up a few free tree stumps for future projects, so we spent the rest of the afternoon loading tree stumps into the car in sketchy alleys. Fun times!

Brian also brought home some pallets from work, and those made up the front of this headboard.

It's hard to believe it's now been one year this weekend since we made this, and I'm just now sharing it. Edison wasn't even crawling yet, and now he's running around! In the last year, we, and our guests, have enjoyed the headboard and all it adds to the room.

Step 1: Deconstruct the pallets, removing the nails and sometimes the screws. 

Step 2: Reconstruct the wood into your headboard. 

Four boards horizontal was the perfect width for the double bed in our guest room.

Step 3: Sand the wood. 

Step 4: Since sanding could take a while, get your homemade stain underway. We were all about cheap or free, so I found a recipe for homemade wood stain on Pinterest. All you need is a jar with a lid, very fine steel wool, and vinegar. Tear up the steel wool and put it in the jar, then cover it with vinegar and fasten the lid. Let it sit for 24 hours before using.

I took it one step further, and added a tea stain, following this tutorial. So I painted the wood with the black tea first, and followed up with the vinegar stain.

Step 5: Apply your stain with a paintbrush.

In the photo below, you can see the difference between just tea, and tea and vinegar. It's much darker.

I like lighter wood usually, but since this pallet wood had some dark stains, darker worked better in this case.

Step 6: Sand the headboard again, if you're going for a weathered look.

Step 7: Attach boards behind the headboard for legs, and position behind your bed. We were able to bold our headboard to the bed frame itself, so it's not going anywhere.

Edison approved! And look how tiny he is!

We still have a lot of styling work to do in the guest room (see mismatched lamps, empty photo frames) but it feels so much more grown up and put together with a headboard! And the dark wood happened to match our thrifted side tables perfectly.

Looks pretty cozy!

Total time to make the headboard was just a couple Saturdays. Total cost: the screws to put it together - everything else, like the vinegar and tea, we already had or was free!

My goal this fall, since we didn't get to it last year, is to make something with the free log stumps we picked up in the sketchy alley. Stay tuned to see what we do with them!

What do you think of this project? Let me know in the comments below, or on social media. 

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