Shaker style consists of inset panels.

How to Make a Shaker-Style Headboard

by Wade Shaddy

Shaker style is a clean, uncomplicated design consisting primarily of straight lines and basic shapes. Panels are typically inset with a frame around the perimeter. Also sometimes referred to as an inset-panel style, Shaker style reflects old-world craftsmanship. This look fits into almost any decor because of its simplicity. You can build a Shaker-style headboard with basic tools using plywood and lumber.

Measure the width of the bed. Add 12 inches to the measurement. Cut the 3/4-by-36-by-96-inch piece of plywood to the measurement, perpendicular to the grain, using a table saw.

Measure from the floor to the top of the mattress and add 36 inches. Cut two pieces of 3/4-by-3-by-96-inch hardwood to the measurement with a miter saw.

Place the plywood across two sawhorses. Apply glue to one side of both pieces of hardwood. Place them flush along the sides of the plywood, perpendicular to the grain. Shoot two 1 1/4-inch pin nails centered, 1 inch from the top and bottom. Apply clamps. The two pieces will extend past the bottom of the plywood and serve as the legs.

Measure the the length of the legs that extend past the edge of the plywood. Cut two of the 3/4-by-3-by-36-inch pieces of hardwood to the measurement. Apply glue and pin nail them to the back of the legs, doubling the thickness of the legs and flushing the legs with the back of the headboard.

Measure the distance between the two legs. Cut two pieces of the 3/4-by-3-by-96-inch hardwood to the measurement. Apply glue and place one flush at the top, and one flush at the bottom of the plywood, parallel with the grain. Shoot two pin nails, centered, 1 inch from both ends. Apply clamps.

Measure the distance between the two parallel pieces that you just installed. Cut the remaining piece of 3/4-by-3-by-36-inch hardwood to the measurement. Apply glue and place it centered, between the two parallel pieces. Shoot four pin nails, evenly spaced and centered, through the center piece -- which is the divider in the center.

Fill all the nail holes with wood putty using a putty knife. When the putty is dry, sand the headboard smooth with 100-grit sandpaper. Round and blunt all the corners and edges. Apply stain and lacquer as needed.

Items you will need

  • 1 piece hardwood plywood, 3/4-by-36-by-96 inches
  • Table saw
  • 4 pieces hardwood, 3/4-by-3-by-96 inches
  • Miter saw
  • Glue
  • Pin nailer
  • 1 1/4-inch pin nails
  • Clamps
  • 3 pieces hardwood, 3/4-by-3-by-36 inches
  • 1 piece hardwood, 3/4-by-3-by-36 inches
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Lacquer


  • The grid pattern and size is for an example using a king-sized bed. You can leave the center pieces out, or add additional center pieces. Reduce the length of the hardwood needed for smaller beds.


  • Wear eye protection when working with wood.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images