King Size Headboard – Project of the Week

Viewer Project -
Added on October 30, 2008

This week’s project comes from Mike in Orlando, FL. Let’s check it out:

“Since the birth of my daughter ten months ago, my woodworking days are few and far between. So when my wife mentioned she had bought a king sized bed from a friend of a friend I figured I might be in for a wood working task or two. Sure enough, when I went to pick up the bed, I saw that I would indeed be up for some refinishing, and even creating a new headboard inset. The headboard contained a metal lattice inset that really does not go with the decor in our master bedroom so I decided to replace it with something more to our liking. Still a newbie woodworker, I knew this task would be a bit of a challenge but one I felt I was ready for. After getting the bed into my shop (which is nothing more than my carport), I decided that I would sand off the old stain instead of using harsh chemicals. I did manage to convince the Wife that I needed a random orbit sander to complete this task, so I bought a Porter Cable :-) Honestly, getting that sander was worth the work required to refinish the bed. The bed had a coat of light colored stain or glaze.”

“It was pretty easy to sand off the old stain on the larger flat pieces but a real pain along the joints and anywhere the wood had been carved. In hindsight I should have used some type of stripper on some of the more detailed parts of the bed. I spent a lot of hours hand sanding those parts and honestly never got them quite as good as I would have liked. I worked from 80 to 120 grit sandpaper then finished with 180. Once I got the head and foot boards looking pretty good I had to figure out what to do for an inset. I had some birch veneer plywood left over from another project so decided I would use that for the inset. In order to span the width of the bed I would have to glue (3) 2-foot wide sections of plywood together plus an additional 4.5-inch section. I knew these joints would be weak so I sought Marc’s opinion on how I should join them. He recommended that I rout a slot along the plywood and use some scrap for splines to assist in alignment, giving the joints a lot more strength when glued together. Once I got the plywood glued up and staine, I got busy with the rest of the bed.”

“I’ve enjoyed woodworking for only a little over a year, so every project is a learning experience. Here are some things I learned while working on this project:

1) I really dislike pine. It’s cheap but that is the only thing good I can say about it. Even with pre-stain conditioners it takes stain unevenly and blotches no matter how careful I am. No more pine for me!

2) Do not use different types of wood on the same project unless that is your intent. The bed is pine, the inset is birch, and the finials are maple which boils down to different woods taking stain differently.

3) When refinishing it’s OK to use a stripper! I thought I would go without using any harsh chemicals so opted for sanding only. I think it tripled my time in removing the old stain and I still had some stain in the nooks and crannies I could not sand away.

4) When using certain types of Wipe-On-Poly (black and gold container) do not follow the directions on the can. It says to sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper after your second application. I did that and ended up removing some stain off my headboard inset. I was mildly upset to see my near perfect stain job marred by following directions on the can. I really hate that!

5) In regard to 4 above I recommend using the Watco brand polyurethane. It’s a much better blend in my opinion, is thicker, easier to use, and most importantly you can sand after your second application and it won’t harm your stain job.

6) King size beds are for king sized rooms! Walking around our room now is going to take some getting used to seeing how we upgraded from a queen size bed with no head/footboard :-D We’ll also need to get rid of some of the other furniture in the room too, but that is OK because that means I will have to build a dresser to take the place of existing dressers we’ll get rid of :-)

Overall I had a lot of fun working on this project plus I got a new sander! I think my next refinishing job will be a bit easier from what I learned on this project. And thanks to Marc for his advice on how to join up plywood for the inset. It worked like a charm!”


The best printer of 2021