You'll use the same tools you used to build the bed, except you'll need 10 48-in. and eight 84-in. opening pipe clamps, a high-quality hand plane and a slot-cutting router bit that makes 1/4-in. x 1/4-in. grooves.
This project is big. (You can make a queen-size version using the alternate cutting list - see bottom of page.) You will need help with gluing, clamping and moving pieces. Don't glue anything without performing a dry fit first to be sure to parts go together correctly, and then use slow-set glue to allow more time to position the clamps.
Headboard Construction Notes
Making and shaping the crown is the most time-consuming aspect of construction. Most of the waste is removed using a series of table saw cuts, and then the final shaping is done with a hand plane and an orbital sander. Take your time and get it right.
The panels (A), crown (B) and dividers (D) are joined with splines (G, H). Spline joints are very strong, but here they are used more for alignment than for strength, and in that regard they require a more exact fit/more exact placement than biscuits. Make a test cut with your slot cutter, and make your spline stock fit in the test groove. A good fit is one where the spline slips into the groove without force and has no play. The splines are 7/16 in. wide, and the spline cavities are 1/2 in. wide. The 1/16-in. difference allows room for glue.
Building the Panel Section
Cut pieces A through F to size (see cutting list). Leave the edging pieces (F) a little long so they can be trimmed to fit after they are attached. Rout the grooves for the short splines H in the sides of the panels (A) and dividers (D); then make the splines (G, H). Note that splines are not used to join the ends (C) to the panels. Glue and clamp the edging pieces (F) to the bottoms of the panels; then trim their ends flush.
Glue and clamp the dividers and splines to the center panel, and then add the two outside panels one at a time (photo 1). Cut the notches in the stiffeners (E). If you're making a queen-size headboard, the notches start 17-3/4 in. from the stiffener ends. Attach the stiffeners to the back of the panel assembly (photo 2).
Glue and clamp the outside panels one at a time to the assembled dividers and center panel.
Attach the stiffeners (E). They help to flatten the panel assembly and add rigidity to the headboard. Make sure the ends are flush with the edges of the outside panels.
Building the Headboard Crown and Ends Rough cut the crown (B) shape following the steps in the illustration. Set up the last cuts in steps 7 and 8 so the groove fits your long spline (G; photo 3).
Cut the spline groove in the rough-cut crown. Attach a 3-in.-tall temporary support block to the edge of the crown using hot glue or double-sided tape.
Rout the spline groove in the top edge of the panel assembly. Set the groove height so the crown edge is just slightly proud of the panel face veneer when the rough-cut crown is attached. (Test the setup on scrap wood first.) Glue and clamp the crown to the panel assembly (photos 4 and 5). Shape the radius tops of the ends (C); then glue and clamp them to the headboard assembly one at a time.
Trace the shape of the rough-cut crown on the clamp blocks. The temporary support block is still attached to the crown.
Glue and clamp the crown in place. I used slow-setting glue to give me more time to complete this very large glue-up. You need 10 custom-shaped clamp blocks and 10 clamps placed about every 7 in. I used one of my Bessey clamp extenders as well.
Now for shaping the crown: Use your hand plane to "knock-down" the high spots of the sawn facets and reveal the round shape of the crown. Do this slowly, removing small amounts at a time, and inspect your progress often. I squiggled pencil lines all over my rough-cut crown. That allowed me to see that I was only removing wood from the high spots. Use the rounded end tops as guides, and run your hands over the crown often to feel the curve. Do not plane near the crown-to-panel joints; you don't want to accidentally scar the panel face veneer at this stage. Use an orbital sander for the final shaping and smoothing.
To join the headboard to the platform, I used Confirmat screws, which have extreme holding power due to their unique thread design. Drill the Confirmat screw holes in the headboard. The layout is the same for a king- or queen-size headboard, but on the queen the inner holes land in the center panel (A) rather than the dividers (D), so there's no need to drill counterbore holes there. Align the headboard with the platform's head box and mark the pilot-hole locations. Drill the holes with a 7/32-in.-dia. bit.
Rout the rounded-over front edges of the ends (C), sand the headboard to 180-grit, ease any sharp edges and apply your favorite finish. I used waterborne polyurethane. Once the finish has cured, fasten the headboard to the platform head box.
Infinity Tools, infinitytools.com:
glue line ripping saw blade, No. 010-024
1/2-in. roundover bit, No. 38-880
1/4-in. slot-cutter bit, No. 23-140B
5/16-in. x 1-3/8-in. bearing, No. BR-118
2-3/4-in. Confirmat screw, No. 30627
Titebond Extend glue, 8 ounces, No. 24623
Handyman Club member Bruce Kieffer is a custom furniture builder, freelance woodworking author and technical illustrator. You can see a collection of his work at www.kcfi.biz.