Imran is a Mechatronics Engineer, Marketer and Economist who recently bought a fixer-upper house with his wife. Cue the learning curve!
My wife was wistfully looking at $500 Moroccan-style headboards last year, wishing we could find a cheaper one in the same style. I said I could totally make one myself. (Fake it till you make it, heh)
I had never done anything woodwork before this point, and assumed I'd get by with Youtube videos and some caffeine.
So the wife found a beautiful fabric and found a store that sells upholstery foam, and I went and got the plywood, a $30 jigsaw, a $5 staple gun (with extra staples) and a $10 hammer from my local hardware store.
All in all, I saved a ton of money, became a hero in my wife's eyes, and scored a bump in self-confidence that would eventually carry me into much more ambitious DIY projects.
Step 1: Find the right fabric and foam
You'll want to get upholstery foam - it's denser than normal foam, and is much more pliable. Choose a thick fabric that won't rip, because you'll be tugging and stretching the fabric to get it into place.
My wife chose this fabric after scouring all the shops in a 20 mile radius:
Step 2: Carve out the plywood
After some time watching several Youtube videos titled "How to Use a Jigsaw", I was confident enough to begin roughing out this shape.
It turned out to be easier than I thought, and the jigsaw conformed quite well to the guide lines I had sharpied onto the wood.
I sanded it down with 80 grit, then 120 grit, and finally 180 grit until the curves were well-defined and super smooth.
Step 3: Cut the upholstery foam to size
Using the shape of the plywood backing, I cut the upholstery foam to shape using my jigsaw and an art knife I had lying around. The foam separated cleanly and didn't create much debris.
Step 4: Glue the upholstery foam to the plywood
Once I cut out the basic shape of the upholstery foam, I glued it down with solvent-free glue. It needs to be solvent-free otherwise the foam gets damaged. I used this one:
Step 5: Secure batting around the foam layer
Upholstery batting is usually preferred, but I was on a budget, so I used an extra mattress cover I had lying around.
I used the staple gun to secure the batting once I had pulled the material into the right shape. It took 500 staples or so to secure this layer - the staple gun was not powerful enough to drive each staple fully. It had to be stapled in halfway, then gently and patiently hammered in the rest of the way.
This was easily the hardest part of the build, since the batting needs to be tight enough to stop the foam from flaking off at the corners, and to stop the foam from shearing off the wooden backing when lateral forces are applied, but not so tight that it prevents access to the cushioning layer underneath.
Step 6: Secure the fabric layer
In the same fashion as the batting layer, the fabric must now be secured. Once again, it needs to be tight enough to prevent shearing and flaking at the corners, but loose enough to allow access to the cushioning layers underneath.
To get this absolutely right, I went ridiculously overboard and used over 1000 staples.
Step 7: Affix the legs
Using off-cuts from my plywood, I equalized and sanded the legs. I didn't have a screwdriver attachment for my drill at the time, so I had to nail the legs in to the back using a few big timber nails (and using wood glue as reinforcement). They supported the headboard pretty well and have held up since, so I'll count that as a success.
The final touch
As a final act of over-engineering, I added some of my leftover upholstery foam and solvent-free glue to pad the back of the legs, since they rest against the wall. The last thing I want is for the legs to scratch my bedroom paint off, which would be a very painful thing to fix.
Behold, a beautiful D.I.Y. Moroccan-style headboard!
© 2021 Imran Khakoo