My husband and I made a set of barn wood headboards for our beach cottage. They bring a lot of character to one of the bedrooms. We found the barn wood through a Craig's List post, and we liked the idea that it was from a local barn in Alabama. The barn had been purchased and demolished and all the wood was now in piles on the back of the seller's property. We dug through piles and picked out the pieces we wanted. I was completely geeked! Never mind we had no idea what we were going to do with all of it - just a few ideas about headboards and a coffee table.
The process of preparing the wood was time consuming. After a couple afternoons spent pulling out nails; then another going over every board with a wire brush to get the dirt off, and yet another cleaning them off with a 10% bleach & water solution, and finally a sweep with a metal detector wand to make sure all the nails were out - we were ready to go.
Our plan was to make matching headboards for the bedroom with two beds. We cut the boards to relatively equal sizes knowing we wanted to leave the uncut edges on the top. Then we set up the boards to vary the widths and types of wood across each headboard.
For those of you wondering what a French cleat is . . . here we took a 1x8 and had it ripped down the middle a 45 degree angle. This is represented in purple in the graphic above. One side was mounted to the back of the headboard and the other is mounted to the wall (the wall piece was cut shorter in width to fit in between the frame of the headboard). See graphic below to see how this works. You just have to be sure you are mounting them correctly, so the piece on the wall hold up the piece on the headboard. The piece mounted to the wall was wide enough to be screwed into at least a couple of studs. You end up with a very stable and sturdy means of attaching the headboard to the wall.
We put the frame together first before attaching it to the barn wood pieces. The photo here shows the metal brackets attached to the back of the frame (the side that would face the wall). We ended up moving them to the inside of the frame so they would be sandwiched between the barn wood pieces and the frame (so they would not scratch the wall when hanging the headboard).