Step 5: Drill pilot holes in the top rail, and cut the rails.

drilling pilot holes into the rail
Photo: Anthony Tieuli
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Lay the fillet on the underside of the top rail between the marks you made in Step 1, and use brads to tack it in place. Drill -inch pilot holes through the marks and into the rail. Remove the fillet and glue it into place on the bottom rail. Then cut both rails to length, using the marks you made in Step 1.
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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)