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How to Build A Chinese Inspired Headboard

This headboard came to be because a client had some beautifully painted room dividers.  They were starting to fall apart, so she no longer wanted to use them as a room divider but still wanted to display the Chinese artwork.  To preserve them, we decided to frame them and turn them into a headboard.

For more information on purchasing a headboard from me, please visit my custom furniture web page, Custom Headboard.

Custom Furniture for sale in Colorado Springs, CO - Design and fabrication

ripping wood to widthI started the project by rough cutting and milling the parts a bit oversized.   Here, I am ripping down the dividers that will separate the panels.  I cut them about a quarter inch wider than needed just in case there is some tension in the wood that is released and pulls them out of Square. This way, I have room to re-joint the edge square and flat and rip them to the final size.

Cutting dadosI am cutting a dado in the face frame that will accept the panel dividers.    I run them through, flip them around, and run them through again to be sure the grove is centered on the face frame.

clamping woodI’m using a little TiteBond wood glue in the dados.  Then I gang them together in the clamps to dry.

cut wood square on table sawOnce the glue was dry on the panel dividers, I squared up one end and cut the other off to its final length.

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Cutting a notch on the table sawI needed to cut a notch in the top and bottom of the panel dividers so I could join them to the top and bottom rails of the headboard.

2 step process final notch cut on table saw

This was a 2 step process here at the table saw. Cut the notch to length.  Then, cut it to the right depth.

I used the domino as my main joinery method.

Clamps not long enoughMy clamps weren’t long enough to reach all the way across the panel dividers, so I hooked several together to give me the length I needed for the glue-up.

laminating legs using 8/4 lumberOnce I had the Panel dividers figured out, I moved on to building the legs.  To get the thickness I wanted, I laminated two pieces of 8/4 lumber together.

Hand sawing compound angles My design incorporates a compound angle at the top of each leg.  Due to the thickness of the material and the length of the compound angle, my saw bottomed out before cutting all the way through the leg.  So I came back with a handsaw and finished the cut.

creating curves with a pivot nailTo lay out the curve, I first found the center of the leg and then potted out the apex of the curve.

I drove a nail on my center plot point and used a thin scrap of wood to bend around the nail to create the curve.  Once I was happy with the shape, I marked it out with a pencil and headed to the band saw.

Cutting a curve on the band sawIn times like this, I wish I had someone to help me out.  Cutting the curve on that long piece of wood was a bit awkward.

Belt sander to smooth out curve and saw marksI used my belt sander to smooth out the saw marks and refine the curve.

Test fitting before glue upI test-fitted it before taking it to the client’s house.  Because I have to fit it up a flight of stairs, I am not gluing the legs on.  They are being screwed on instead.  The dominos are just there for alignment purposes.

Framing Art PanelsThe art panels drop in and are secured in place with strips of wood screwed to the dividers.  This way, the panels are free to float in the frame.

The strips of wood I used to hold the art panels in place were cut at a 2-degree angle on the outside edge.   When attached to the frame, the drill would be angle away from the art and not scratch the panels.

Drilling a 2 degree holeWhen I pre-drilled the screw holes, I used a custom jig with a matching 2-degree angle in the dado to hold the strips parallel to the drill press table.  This ensured that all the holes were centered and at the proper angle to protect the art from being scratched during installation.

Chinese headboard

Chinese Inspired Headboard

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.