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Build It | Rough Sawn Headboard

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor build a headboard using rustic barnboard

Building a Rough Sawn Headboard

  1. Paint a large sheet of birch plywood black to hide the gaps of the rough boards.
  2. Cut the plywood to rough size using the track saw.
  3. Secure the plywood to the back of some 2x4s with wood glue and framing screws to stiffen out the plywood.
  4. Lay out the rough-sawn boards on top of the plywood. Cut any overhanging pieces with the miter saw and reuse them in the next course, depending on their length. Be sure the joints of the boards do not line up.
  5. Secure the boards to the plywood using construction adhesive and the brad nailer.
  6. Once the boards are secure, use the track saw to make a clean cut on both ends of the plywood.
  7. Determine the width of the headboard. Tom suggests using the bed frame as a template. Center that on the plywood, and then divide the overhang on each side in half.
  8. Using the track saw, make two opposing miter cuts on each side of the bed frame. Start with the outside cut so you have somewhere to rest the track on.
  9. Use the construction adhesive and the brad nailer to secure the overhang to the top of the plywood.
  10. Cut the 5/4” pine to size for the top of the headboard. Apply a weathered finish to the board to match the rest of the headboard and let that dry.
  11. Attach the top to the rest of the headboard from underneath using framing screws.


Tom and Kevin built the headboard out of 1/2” x 4” Weathered Hardwood Board, manufactured by Weaber Lumber and available at most home centers.

The wood glue and construction adhesive Tom used to secure the boards to the plywood is manufactured by Gorilla Glue.

The finish Kevin used for the top piece of the headboard is called Weathered Wood Accelerator, which is manufactured by Varathane and available at most home centers.

All the other materials Tom and Kevin used for this project, including the plywood, brad nailer, paint, and paintbrushes, can all be found at home centers.