Step 1: Size the headboard.

Tom Silva lays the newel posts across the top and bottom rails
Photo: Anthony Tieuli
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Lay the newel posts across the top and bottom rails, as shown. Mark the posts' centers, and adjust them so that the distance between the centers equals the width of your bed frame. Mark cutlines at the inside dimensions of each rail between the posts. Set the posts aside.
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    Tools List

    • 16-foot tape measure
      Measuring tape
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • elastic tape
      Elastic tape for spacing out the balusters. Get one roll.
    • speed square
      Triangular layout square
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • 3/8-inch spade bit
      Paddle bits sized to your balusters. (Ours were inch and inch.)
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • two-foot level
      Level or straightedge
    • sandpaper
      220-grit sandpaper

    Shopping List

    Wood newel posts. Get two.

    Pin-top wood balusters. Get as many as you need to span the width of your headboard. Safety codes require that they be spaced no more than 4 inches apart, so do the math before you buy, and consider getting a few extra ones as insurance. (We used 14 for a queen-size headboard.) Make sure the balusters have round pins at the bottom for attaching to the bottom rail.

    Handrails. Get two—one for the top rail and one for the bottom rail. Pick a bottom rail that has a fillet, a thin, removable strip of wood that you'll use as a template for making holes in both rails.

    Brads

    6-inch timber screws for adding the end posts. We used Headlok screws, which require a special drill bit (included).

    Wood glue

    Primer and paint (or stain and sealer)