Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chevron Weathered Headboard

I made our headboard.  It's chevron and weathered and I love it more than any other object in our house apartment.

Be warned:  this is not a project for your first time at the woodworking rodeo.  I had the guidance of my dad, who has many qualifications that I do not.
  1. He is an engineer who designs things to keep planes in the air on a daily basis.
  2. He has accumulated 30 years worth of power tools.
  3. He's built a deck and a porch and a grandfather's clock and step stools that have our names like puzzle pieces inside and...
  4. His father has built and repaired furniture for a living for the last 30+ years.
So here's more eye candy before the how-to.

Ignore the pillowcases. They're on my list to burn.


Here's how it went.

Step 1: Plan and go buy materials.

Go to parents' house because they have a woodshop and I have a ~750 sq ft apartment.  Brainstorm with Super Chief Engineer Dad (This will be important later.  Also, yes, that's pretty much what's on his business card.)  Make a list, then forget the list at home and ask mom to send pic, please.  Love iPhones even more than you already did.

 The list was:

  • 71 feet of 1x4s
  • 16 feet of 1x2s
  • 6 feet of 1x3s
  • 2 legs (we ended up getting a 10' 2x4 cut in half)
  • stain (Minwax Dark Walnut)
  • Nails (dark ones)

All accomplished for $94.  Obviously that included some scrap at the end, because they don't sell wood in factors of 71.

Step 2:  Make the frame

We made lap joints using the 1x2s.   The frame was 64"x34". 

First, we sort of shaved out a 2" section halfway through the wood on each end by making multiple cuts with the power saw raised up.

Side note: As you admire my woodworking outfit, realize, like I did, that we dressed like this on purpose in middle school.  Huge Tshirt, flared jeans, messy bun, sneakers.  Styyyyle for days.

Then, we used a chisel to flatten it out.

Check and chisel some more, check and sand it down. We wound up with four labeled joints like this.

They fit together like this.

Liberally applied some Elmer's Wood Glue and clamped together like so:

That's a scrap piece to avoid any denting on the front of the frame.  It turns out it wasn't necessary.

Step 3: Add support slats

These are vertical pieces that we glued and nailed in.  They're also 34" long and they're 12" apart. (This picture was taken two steps later, and it's on top of plywood and the slats are horizontal, but you, brilliant reader, you already figured that out.)

Step 4: Cut the chevron pieces

 We needed 24 pieces that were cut on a 45 degree angle 14 3/8" long.

We measured and cut a pilot piece, then used a piece of plywood as a guide and clamped it on the end of the saw table at the appointed length.

The saw pulled and slid when the wood was cut on the diagonal.  Dad cut these pieces because, in addition to his above qualifications, he also has superior arm strength.

When we placed them the first time, they didn't fit. 

See how in this picture, all the points touch the top and bottom of the frame?  The first time, there was a gap on one side of about 3/4".  This is where my trigonometry was too rusty and it was reeeeeally helpful to have an engineer on the case.  It turns out, each piece was 1/40" too long.  ONE FORTIETH OF AN INCH. Soooo we re-cut, and ta-dah! Fit.

We measured and cut the rest of the pieces individually.  It basically involved lining up the pilot piece in the space, marking it, then cutting. For similar pieces, we were able to use the first as a template, but we did have to make adjustments.

Importante! As we took the pieces out for the next step, we labeled them "like an Excel spreadsheet" - A1, A2, A3... B1, B2, B3... etc.

Step 5: Weather the wood

We tested a lot of methods on scrap wood.   Young House Love has a great tutorial here

We settled on two methods: 

1.  Burning the wood.  

Dad bought this blow torch for a plumbing project and used it for all of 3 minutes, so he was delighted that it was being used again.  It's about $20.

2.  Rounding out the long edges using a hammer

John sanded the edges, but I found this went much faster and looked more uneven, which I liked.

Step 6: Glue and nail all the pieces in

There are no pictures of this process because it took three people and all three had wood glue covered hands. Tim, my brother, helped.  (Shout out!)  It was a race against the clock.  We pretended we were on Chopped.  Even though there was no food.  Or judges... I pretended we were on Chopped.

Here's how we prepared:

Stacked all the pieces in numeric order.
Laid out 3 hammers and put the box of nails on the floor.
Took deep breaths.  
It was really intense, y'all.

Here were the assignments:

Tim: Pour glue along all of the slats, left to right.
Dad: Follow with a paintbrush to spread out the glue.
Meg: Follow with the pieces and slide them into place.

All together!: Nail in each piece to the slat as fast as you can with two nails at each end.  

There were no nails at the very ends of the headboard, but relax, because those pieces are still attached in the middle.


Step 7: Even out burning and stain

Oh wait!  In the meantime, we added the piece at the top.  It was a non-event.  Cut the 1x3 to 65" so it hangs off  1/2" on each side and side all the edges so you don't cut yo'self!  Glue and nail into the slats from the top.

The legs were detached for easier transport.  We countersunk the holes in the legs to bolt them at the top and bottom of the headboard.  Then, we drilled holes in the legs when we got it to my apartment to attach it to the metal frame.

Step 8: Admire

So, are you ready to take it on?!  Are you now intimidated to take on chevron furniture?  Have you enjoyed some family bonding over woodworking recently?  Do tell!


  1. I am so very excited that you have a blog!

    1. Thanks, Mandy! I'm so very excited that you linked to your blog so I could discover YOU have one, too!

  2. This is such a unique piece! I also really like the stain. It looks great!

    1. Thanks, Janelle! The stain color was what Young House Love used, too.

  3. Wow! This is stunning! Great tutorial and thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by. Bless you for being a Kindergarten teacher. I teach 4th, and I think 3rd is as young as I could go. :)I need kids who can tie their own shoes and blow their own noses.