Make a Bench from a Headboard & Footboard
We're going to show you how to make a fabulous bench from an old headboard & footboard. It is simple, fairly quick & creates a unique & one of a kind piece!
It is so easy to make a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture with an old headboard & footboard. It can be any size, although I would recommend a full or larger. The headboard & footboard to not have to be an exact match. It makes for a more cohesive unit if the details (such as the finials) are at least similar, though. You will see how to brace the headboard while you work on it, cut the footboard in half (or smaller), attach the footboard halves to the headboard for the arms of the bench, build a simple box for the seat support and attach your wood to the seat. We have made several of these benches, and I will share pictures from two particular projects so that you can see the steps. After you assemble your bench, you will prime, paint & seal it... then go enjoy it!
Secure your headboard
You'll want to secure your headboard to a stationary object. We used a pole in our basement, but you could also use a heavy workbench or even a tree!
Cut your footboard in half & attach it to the headboard with screws
If your footboard is a full, you'll want to cut it almost exactly in half. This step is really subjective, as it depends on how deep you want your final bench to be. You want plenty of room to sit, but not too much room so that you can't reach the back of the bench! Measure your favorite seat in the house, and use that as a basis for how long to cut your 'arms' from the footboard.
Build your box for your seat support
You can use whatever lumber you have on hand for this (that is how my husband likes to do it!) or you can go purchase specific pieces for more uniformity. Measure & cut your wood to build a box encompassing the sides, front & back of where your seat will be. Attach the box to the bench with both steel brackets underneath and screws through the sides of the footboard halves.
Fill in your seat
Determine how you want your seat to align ~ do you want the boards to run lengthwise or not? Long, straight across the bench, or short perpendicular to the headboard? Once you decide, measure for your cuts and cut your seat pieces. Attach with screws to the frame/box you have built.
Another view of a seat, done lengthwise
This is a sample of the other way you can run your boards for the seat
Prime with Indoor/Outdoor Primer
Do NOT skip this step! It is very important to prime both your headboard & footboard as well as your new wood, preferably with an oil based primer (I use Kilz Complete, with the brown label). Lay out a tarp, plastic or a drop cloth and go for it! Make sure you're in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves. Primer is challenging to get off your hands. Give it plenty of time to dry.
Go to town with the paint
Choose your paint color. Again, depending on where your bench is going to go, you may want to choose an outdoor paint. Either spray the paint on with a compressor/sprayer, or a paint gun, or use some of the great spray paints on the market now. Get a good coat on, and perhaps a second coat if the first layer is thin.
Sand & distress if you like
You may like your bench to have a perfect finish. If so, you're done! If not, grab your sand paper and lets get going. Using a gritty paper (like an 80 or 100), wipe the sandpaper along all the places that would normally get wear & tear, or places that you want to highlight the features of the piece. Wipe clean afterwards. I love to use glaze to really make these areas stand out- my favorite is a dark brown glaze that I run on (with gloves) and wipe off.
Enjoy your bench!
Before you know it, you'll be on the lookout for old headboard/footboards that you can use to make more benches! Your neighbors will be asking you where you got those fabulous pieces! Enjoy!