This week's project was a headboard for my daughter's (homemade) bed. Her bed has the dimensions of a standard single bed, i.e. 90cm x 190cm [3' x 6¼'], and has a slatted wooden base (which is easy to attach things like new headboards to). I wanted to build the headboard in the shape of a flower, with a padded/upholstered fabric centre. I elected to go with a ¾-round design so that I had a flat base to join to the bed base.
The 'petals' for this project were laser cut from 9mm [0.35"] double-sided whiteboard (MDF coated on both sides with melamine plastic). I used Ponoko to do the cutting, which resulted in a pair of identical pieces that are set as a mirror image of one another and joined (see below).
The 'petals' from Ponoko came as two matched halves. The laser cutter does a fantastic job (as you'd expect). I did have to wipe off a small bit of soot (it's burning wood, after all), but this came off with little effort.
After cleaning the petals, I aligned their bases with a straight piece of timber and used masking tape on both side to hold them together at the top. The total width of the petals along the base is 872mm (slightly less than the 900mm bed width).
My plan to attach the headboard to the bed base involved joining the headboard to a sturdy footer, and then the footer to the bed. The footer is a clear piece of 50mm x 150mm [2" x 6"] that has been rebated 45mm [≈2"] x 9mm (the thickness of the whiteboard) for its full length (see step 15 for more). So that I was able to allow for this attachment (lap joint) later on, I made a pencil line 45mm up from the base on the one side of the petals. This marked side is now the back/rear of the headboard for all further work.
The petals are reinforced front and back with two disks of thin (3mm [1/8"]) plywood. The front disk also acts as the substrate for the upholstery. The front disk is 500mm [19½"] in diameter, and the rear disk is 710mm [28"] in diameter. Both disks are truncated along the bottom. The base of the front disk is 175mm [6.9"] from its centre. The base of the rear disk is 130mm [5.1"] from its centre. To cut my disks, I screwed a plate of hardboard to the base of my router and drilled pivot holes in the plate at the desired radii. A screw held the plate to the plywood and acted as a pivot for the cutting.
I used the two plywood disks to mark up the fabric I was using (yellow cotton drill). The disks were aligned at their centres (not along their bases) to create two concentric circles on my fabric. I then used a ruler to mark radiating lines about 50mm [2"] apart. I cut around the outer circle with pinking shears (dress-making scissors) and then cut inwards to within 25mm [1"] of the inner circle, along the radial lines (not all the way to the inner line!). I got a tad lazy at this point and only cut every second radial line, thinking it would save me some upholstery time, but I wish I hadn't - the final result would have looked better if I had stuck to the plan here.
In order to attach the rear (larger) plywood disk to the rear of the petals, I aligned the flat base of the disk to the pencil line inscribed in step 3 (not to the base of the petals!) and traced a circle onto the petals. I then abraded off some of the melamine coating in order to give the wood glue something to bind to. I put glue on the, now bared, MDF, mounted the rear plywood disk (make sure the edge of the disk is just inside petals all the way round so it can't be seen from the front!) and left this to dry (with some pressure evenly applied).
Once the rear disk glue was dry, I flipped the petals over and taped the front disk in place (this one is aligned along the base of the petals, unlike the rear disk). I drew pencil lines so I could see where the whiteboard was (and wasn't) underneath, plus round the disk itself, and then marked out the location for four bolts on each of the left and right sides of the disk (about 50mm [2"] in from the edge of the disk). In hindsight, I wish I'd moved the bolts nearest the base up a bit so that they cleared the footer joint better (see step 14 for more). I drilled a Ø4mm [5/32"] hole at each location (through the whole shebang - petals-plus-disks) and then untaped the front disk. Make a note of which side of the disk faces out (it should be the face with all your pencil marks on it).
Use the front disk as a template to cut some light-duty, 25mm [1"] thick urethane foam.
Insert a 20mm [¾"] -long, Ø4mm [5/32"] bolt-plus-washer through the front plywood disk, such that the bolts project out the non-pencilled (rear) side of the disk.
Lay out your fabric face down on a flat work surface and place the foam on top of the fabric. Place the front disk (face down, bolts sticking up) on top of the foam.
Grab a hot glue gun and start gluing! I started by gluing along the base and then did the radial tabs. Pull each tab in as hard as you can before gluing it down. Try to work one side of the disk and then the other to keep the tension even. In several places I had to cut slits in the fabric to let the bolts poke through. You can see in the finished product that I would have got a smoother, more rounded, edge if I'd cut more radial tabs (step 5).
To join the upholstered panel to the petals I first abraded the melamine, as per step 6. I then applied some wood glue to the, now bared, MDF and mounted the upholstered panel, taking care to seat each bolt through its pre-drilled hole in the petals-plus-rear-disk. This should leave 5mm [1/5"] of each bolt sticking out the rear of the headboard - enough for a washer and nut. Tighten the nuts before the glue sets.
Here is what my headboard looked like at this point (as seen from the front and rear).
At this point I noticed two areas that could have gone better. Firstly, the corners of the upholstery, along the base of the disk, were cut too closely and thus didn't come up very neatly - don't trim the fabric too close at this point. And secondly, as mentioned in step 7, the bolts near the base were a bit too close to the base of the rear plywood disk (where the footer will be joined) - set these two bolts a little higher. Neither fault is visible in the finished product once it's installed.
From here on in you'll need to tailor what you do to fit with the bed base you're working with. As mentioned in step 3, my plan was to attach the petals to the bed via a 50mm x 150mm [2" x 6"] rebated timber footer. The petals are joined to the footer with six Ø6mm [1/4"] bolts.
The footer is attached to the bed with brackets - four underneath and two on top. Note that the bolts in step 15 and the brackets in this step (and the dodgy upholstery) are all below the level of the mattress, and thus not visible in the final product.
The finished product (without and with the mattress)!
Pros: Sturdy; comfortable to lie against; easy to clean (the petals, anyway); looks great; daughter is very pleased!
Cons: Upholstery could have come up better by cutting more/thinner flaps and having better treatment along the bottom (an easy thing to fix).
Enhancement Suggestions: None that I can think of.