Is your current metal bed frame leaving much to be desired? Elevate your bed frame with a DIY cane headboard! In this post, we’ll show you how to get a Pottery Barn look for way less than retail prices.
Alright, let’s start DIYing and make a headboard!
How to Make a Headboard with Cane Detail
The following shopping list and cut list are for a standard queen bed. We do have printable versions of the plan available for both king and queen beds.
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- Miter Saw
- Kreg Jig (not sure which to get? Check out which Kreg Jig to get in 2023)
- Staple Gun
- Brad Nailer
- (2) 1x2x8 (we used red oak)
- (6) 1x3x8 (we got 3 red oak boards and 3 common board – see note in step 1)
- (1) 1x6x6 (we used common board)
- (2) 1/2 x 3/4 x 8 shoe moulding (you might want to get an extra trim piece in case you want to line the legs with trim as well)
- 18” x 5’ of cane webbing
- Wood glue (we used Titebond 2)
- Clear glue (we used Titebond Quick and Thick)
- 1.25” Kreg screws
- 1” nails
- (4) washers
- (4) ¼” – 20 x 2 hex bolts (if you can find 2.25 or 2.5” instead, even better)
- (4) ¼” lock nuts
STEP 1: MAKE YOUR CUTS
Make your cuts according to the cut list in the plans.
Why two types of wood? Common board is about a ¼ of the cost of red oak, so we used that on anything that would not be seen. That said, you could totally make this whole headboard out of common board (or pine or poplar or anything your heart desires). We just wanted the oak look.
STEP 2: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Using the ¾” settings, drill pocket holes in the following boards:
- (2) pocket holes on both short ends of the:
- Front frame – bottom
- Front frame – middle divider
- Back frame – middle divider
- Back frame – bottom
- Bottom stretcher (there are three in our photos, but I’d recommend two to avoid getting in the way of your bed frame during install)
- (2) pocket holes in the mitered side of the front frame sides
- (3) pocket holes along one long side of the back frame sides, plus (1) on one short end
- (4) pocket holes along one long side of the back frame top, plus (2) pocket holes on both short ends
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
STEP 3: ASSEMBLE FRONT FRAME
First we’ll assemble the outside frame using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws. If using oak, make sure to use the fine thread ones to prevent your wood from splitting.
Start by attaching the front frame top to the front frame side pieces.
Next, measure 28.75” from the inside edge of the sides on either end. This is where you will attach the middle divider.
Measure 17.5” on the legs from the inside edge of the top and install your front frame bottom piece here.
Last, install the bottom stretcher. You’ll want to double-check the measurements for your particular bed frame, but we placed our stretcher 4.5” from the bottom. This placement should work for most standard bed frames.
Set the front frame aside.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE INSIDE FRAME
Next we’ll assemble a second frame, which is made up of the back frame and side frame pieces. Again, we’ll use glue and 1.25” Kreg screws for assembly.
First, attach the back frame sides and side frames sides together. The front should be flush.
Next, attach the pieces your just assembled to the side frame top.
Lastly, add the back frame top piece and attach it to both the sides and top pieces.
STEP 5: ATTACH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE FRAMES
Place the face frame assembled in step 3 so that the front is facing the ground. Then apply wood glue to the back of the frame.
Place the inside frame on top of the face frame, lining up the sides and top as much as possible. You might notice that the back frame extends past the front frame in the middle areas. Don’t worry–that’s correct! This is where you’ll attach the caning later.
We added a total of 9 screws to secure the inside frame to the face frame. Pre-drill through the inside frame before driving a screw into the face frame to prevent your wood from splitting.
Now that the frames are attached, we just need to use glue and 1.25” Kreg screws to secure the final back frame bottom and middle divider.
Start by measuring 27.5” from the inside of the back frame sides. This is where you’ll install the middle divider. Then measure 16” down from the inside of the back frame top. This is where you’ll install the back frame bottom.
STEP 6: CUT TRIM
Cut your trim pieces to fit the openings. Get them cut and ready so they are ready to install. I recommend cutting your trim according to the actual openings, but to give you some guidance (and in case your measurements so far have been flawless), you’d cut the top and bottom pieces to 28.75” and the side pieces to 17.5”, mitering both sides.
Place the trim into the headboard to ensure they fit properly, but don’t install them yet.
If you want to really finish off your headboard, add trim to cover up the back frame on the sides of the legs all the way down. You’ll need (2) 15” pieces and (2) 4.5” pieces.
Be very careful when cutting the trim on the miter saw! Sometimes the trim likes to pop and split. You might feel more comfortable cutting it with a handsaw and miter box or you can try this technique for cutting small pieces of wood on the miter saw.
STEP 7: SAND, STAIN, AND PROTECT
Before sanding, I applied a bit of stainable wood filler between any seams in the wood to help get a more seamless finish. After sanding you can see that the headboard almost looked like one solid piece of wood from the side rather than two individual pieces.
Sand your headboard with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to prepare it for staining. I also applied a pre-stain wood conditioner to get the most even finish possible.
I finished my headboard with one coat of Minwax Weathered Oak stain and one coat of Minwax Special Dark Finishing Wax.
For the cane, we stained the backside of it with Minwax Driftwood stain. We chose to stain the back because it better absorbed the color compared to the front of the cane. Let you stain dry for at least four hours before moving onto the next step.
STEP 8: INSTALL CANE
Soak your cane for about 20-30 minutes in water before installing. This step will make the cane easier to work with and will help you achieve a more professional look. The cane will tighten as it dries.
Cut your cane into two separate pieces. We trimmed ours to fit each opening before installing, but I think I would recommend keeping them slightly larger than the opening and then trimming off any excess after installing. Though I didn’t test this method, I think it would be easier to pull the cane tight if there was extra material.
Place your cane in the opening, making sure it’s straight. Staple the cane into the back frame. Pull it tight and work your way around the opening until the cane is secure on all sides.
Add a bead of clear-drying glue around the edge of the cane and install your trim on top with 1” nails.
If you cut extra trim for the rest of the legs, you can add a bead of glue to the back frame and then nail the trim to the frame.
Fill any nail holes with wood putty that matches your stain color.
STEP 9: ATTACH TO BED
Bring your headboard to your bed frame and double-check that the bottom stretcher aligns with your bed frame.
Center your headboard on the bed frame and mark where you want to attach it. Pre-drill all the way through the headboard using a ¼” drill bit, making sure to avoid any pocket holes screws.
Place a washer on a ¼”-20 x 2 hex bolt and slide it through the back of the headboard.
Make sure the bed frame is flush with the front of the headboard and “lock” in the headboard with a ¼” lock nut.
Repeat for a total of 4 bolts through the headboard.
There you have it! Now you’ve made your very own DIY cane headboard! You’ve turned a boring bed frame into a Pottery Barn-esque piece of art!
Ready to build your own? Don’t forget to grab your printable plans for this DIY cane headboard!
For more bedroom DIYs, check out the following posts: