Bench tutorial


Edited July 2011
I have a new way to attach the sides to the headboard. You can see my latest Bench Tutorials in my post Twin Headboard Bench “Welcome” and Twin Headboard Bench Tutorial

white spool bed bench

Some people have written me asking about how to make these headboard benches. When we (Cathy and me) made these benches, I had NO idea that I would EVER be BLOGGING! Therefore I didn’t take a lot of “in process” pictures. However, someone expressed interest in buying this bench and asked for closeup pictures, so I will try to explain what we did and why.

With this particular bed we had a matching full sized headboard and foot board. We initially cut the foot board in half on the table saw

. But, in my opinion when you only cut it in half, it makes the seat too deep. We ended up taking off enough on each end of the foot board to make it about 18-19 inches deep.

headboard bench

The next step after cutting the foot board is to line the foot board up with the cut end butted up against the headboard. At this point, because we were working with curved edges instead of blunt edges, we needed to “round” the cut part of the foot board to get a good fit up against the headboard.

white jinny lind headboard bench

To accomplish this we used Cathy’s drill press with a sanding disc attached to it. That gave us a nice little inward curve to fit great against the front of the headboard.

white jinny lynd headboard bench

This is the view from the back. If you look closely you can see that we placed a screw right into the middle of the spool, screwing it from back to front. We always use wood glue

whenever we join two pieces of wood together.

headboard bench seat

If you look closely at the left side, you can see that the foot board’s original construction included a board across the bottom. The leg in the back is the original leg to the headboard, the leg in the font is from the foot board.

spool bed headboard bench

  This was our first bench, and it was very challenging to say the least. It is hard for me to remember exactly what we did. In this picture you can tell more about the construction and how we added our lumber as opposed to what is the original bed.

Across the back of the headboard (bottom) we attached a 1x the length of the bed. It is located below the 2×4

The board in the front is a 1x that we gave a little detail by cutting it with a jig saw

. We had a curbed piece of cornice work that we used for a pattern.


In this picture you can see that we attached the 1x to the sides (foot board cut in half) You can also see that we used L brackets for extra support. After making the initial construction, we decided the bench sat too low. We constructed a basic box and stacked it onto the 1x and the original foot board (sides) You can see the stacked construction in the picture below.

white headboard bench

headboard bench seat

We used 1x’s for the slatted seat. Here you can see we had to notch the last one to make it fit. Having to do it all over again, I would probably choose to rip each board so that the last board would not be so narrow.

diagram tutorial headboard bench

Now, I’ll show you this picture again. Maybe you’ll understand a little better how we worked through this challenging bench. Try to imagine a 2×4 “box” stacked right on top of this construction. That box helped with support and raised the height of the seat.

In the picture below, you can see that a 2×4 is stacked on top of the curved 1x

white spool bed headboard bench

You can see how pretty a piece can be with the end result. Only you know the challenges or oops you have during a particular project. That is… unless you blog about it to the world, showing closeup pictures, so others may not make the mistakes you make.

Now on to another bench:
We picked this up from the curb. It was the entire bed, rails, slats, everything. I wondered if it were possibly a divorced or newly married (previously divorced) couple. You know… I’m NOT sleeping in her bed sort of thing.

Again, we cut the foot board in half on the table saw, then cut each half again to make the seat about 18-19 inches deep.

maple bed headboard bench

After cutting the foot board, the next step is to line them up to make the sides of the bench.

This is where Cathy wants to do it one way and Gail wants to do it another way. I have seen benches that the sides were brought out and attached against the side of the headboard. In that scenario you would be putting the screws through a board approximately 3/4 inch thick into the headboard post which is about 2.5 inches thick. Cathy doesn’t think they look as nice, and hindsight, I suppose I agree. (she doesn’t read my blog, so shhhh if you don’t tell her, she will never know!)

So, we do it her way. It’s not easy to do the drilling of the pilot holes. I will attempt to explain how we went about it.

We bought an extra long drill bit

.  Which is over kill for sure. But you will need a bit that will drill through a bed post.

Place the side (cut foot board) against the headboard and mark the thickness of wood. Drill several holes (from front to back)

Line the side (cut foot board) back up (clamping if necessary) and drill from the back to the front only slightly into the side (cut foot board)

Take the side (cut foot board) off and make sure that you are pretty much in the center of the board. Then while unattached, drill a pilot hole into the side board using the holes you just slightly drilled as guides.

Apply glue and using your marks line the two pieces up and clamp and screw.
We used 2×4 braces in the middle for extra support.

maple headboard bench

In this picture you can see that we made a 2×4 box to stack onto the original construction. We puttied the slat holes. As you can see we laid our slats from side to side on this bench as opposed to the previous bench where we laid them front to back.

maple bed headboard bench

As I said in the original post of this bench, it is the heaviest thing we have ever built! Cathy and I could carry it from point a to point b, however it was nearly impossible for us to lift it onto the truck.Next I will try to describe how we made this cute little corner bench from a foot board.
corner bench headboard

headboard foot board bench

We picked up this footboard at a local peddler’s mall for $6.00. This was before we realized there were better places to find old, orphaned beds….curb shopping is much cheaper.

corner bench headboard foot board

We cut it nearly in half on the table saw. We measured the width, and subtracted the thickness of the headboard. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but because we “butted” the right side up against the left side, we couldn’t cut it exactly in half.
If you click on the picture you will be able to look inside the back corner and see that we added a third leg (from another project).
We glued and screwed this all the way down the back left side. We added a 1x across the front, cutting the ends on an angle so they would fit nicely. The seat was made out of a piece of scrap plywood.

red headboard corner bench

We adorned it with a handle in the front to give it a faux drawer look. These corner benches are fairly easy to make, and much easier to move from one place to another.

Now I’ll show you the easier way to attach the sides (foot board cut in half)

twin bed headboard bench

This was a twin bed. We cut the foot board in half on the table saw. You can see that we laid the foot board up against the side of the headboard. (gail’s way) We glued and screwed through the foot board into the headboard.

We then attached a 2×4 across the front and and a ripped 2×4 across the back. Click on the picture to enlarge it, and you will get a clear idea of exactly what we did.
twin headboard bench

We used flooring (tongue and groove) for the seat of this bench. I believe it was hardwood, not laminate.

easy headboard bench

Some afterthoughts:
We use drywall screws (size depends on what 2 pieces of wood we are joining together)

We sink all of our screws that will be visible
We putty over our screw holes and screws
We ALWAYS drill pilot holes
We use my nail gun for attaching the seats/slats. If we don’t use tongue and groove flooring, we use paint sticks or yard sticks to get equal separation of the slats.

Sometimes we use the right side of the flooring unpainted, other times we sand the shine off the flooring and paint the flooring to match the bench.

Almost all of our headboards and/or foot boards have been curb finds. If curb shopping isn’t illegal in your area, I suggest you check out your .gov site and find out when the large trash pickup day is. Our metro area has them about 3-4 times a year, rotating the neighborhoods. That means that curb shopping is available most months.

You can check out all of my headboard benches and more.

Edited to add:  If you have a blog and you learned something from this tutorial, I would greatly appreciate a link back. This is one of  my most searched topics.  If you don’t have a blog and you learned something, drop me an e-mail at and I will gladly blog brag about your bench to the world

See other fun benches below [categorythumbnaillist 64]

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Thanks alot for that good ideas. I have some of an old headboards,
And am gonna make great benches,
as well as i will tell my friends of that great ideas you got for the old stuff,
Thanks again god bliss you.

Knew I wanted to make a bench from my childhood full size bed, but just couldn’t figure out how. Thanks so much this makes perfect sense.

This is a great idea! I see these old headboards in the thrift stores all the time…now I want one so I can try this. I am adding this project to my blog bucket list for sure! Thanks
BTW-I joined the Circle of Bliss too!

I am amazed and so freaking excited to find this!! I found you via a friends pin at pintrest! I am following your blog and will be linking to this amazing post on my blog. I have 2 or 3 headboard/foot boards in my garage waiting for some LOVE!!! I think I am going to give one of these (if I can do it!) to my parents for cmas. The beds are all from my grandma’s house and none of us need another bed but we can all use an amazing bench!! LOVE LOVE Love!! So glad I found you!!!

Thankyou, thankyou! I always wanted one of these for a long time but didn’t know how to make it. Your tutorial was primo! I found a headboard for $10 and with the extra materials my bench cost me a total of $40. I love it! If you want to see it, I posted it on my blog and linked your tutorial to it because yours worked for me 🙂

I have been dying to make one of these forever…just waiting to have a house with a spot to put it in! But I”m happy to see the corner one because that’s more doable in small spaces…I might even be able to get away with it in my apartment! Thanks for taking the time to share that with everyone.

I just found you thru another blogger, and I am amazed! I have an old full bed with posts that was my folks, and I think I would love a bench made from it! Problem is I have the whole set and it is is a Queen Anne mahogany….but who sleeps in a full bed anymore????? I am keeping this post in my emails just in case I see heabdoard or sets along the road! Sandy

Thanks for inviting me over to see your bench. I told you there were a lot in blogland. I love yours. Ron makes his most times with storage under the seat and then we upholster the seats. He’s going to take the footboard that he couldn’t use on this bench and make a different kind of bench with it. I hope it turns out as neat as I think it should. lol. Blessings, Pat

I love all of your benches! You should see the headboard that goes with my footboard (over the door). It is gorgeous with rings kind of like a wedding ring quilt. I want to make it into a bench but I want that one open with no sides and I will have to make it very shallow, so that it can fit in my foyer without taking up too much room.

Thanks for the great tutorials!

Wow, I love each and every project you shared! I hate to say it but I’m intimidated by the most very basic woodworking projects so I’m not sure I can do something like that! ha ha

Happy Tuesday to you!
~Michelle 🙂

Love your benches, they are so beautiful. I am inspired by your ingenuity. Thanks for visiting me and leaving a comment. Hope you’ll visit again. Marla @ Seven Palms

Thanks SOOOOOO much for this tutorial! I’m glad I emailed you to let you know we woodworking newbies needed help :o) I love that last green bench! Can’t wait to show hubby and get started on our own bench for the dining room.

Wowwee! What an awesome post! I saw an article in a magazine on how to make one of these MANY MANY years ago, and have always wanted to make one but lost the article. This is great because I recently bought a FB/HB for $6 at the thrift store. Of course, free is always best! Thanks for sharing!