Since we didn't want our headboard to have to be mounted on the wall, we couldn't use pegboard for the back because it's too flimsy. We opted for plywood instead and really, the measuring and drilling of the holes for the tufting wasn't that bad at all.
We bought the plywood at Home Depot (this one) and had them cut it down for us to 80"x42". I've read on other blogs that normally home improvement stores will charge you a couple dollars to cut the wood, but we weren't charged and it was so nice to have the wood cut their for us with their big saw rather than trying to do it at home. It just seems like it would have been a lot harder than necessary.
The kids sure loved going for a ride too!
To start out, I marked on the headboard where all the rows of holes will be, going across the top and left sides, following my measurements here. Then I used my measuring tape to find where all the holes needed to be drilled and marked them with a sharpie. After I had marked the holes, I used a leveler to go over each one and make sure they were all straight and even and lined up exactly where they needed to be. This part took some time. I ended up having to go over them twice to be sure that I had them in the right spot.
If you look closely, you can see some silver dots over black dots. I originally marked where the holes would be with a black sharpie, and then when I double checked them with the leveler, I marked over the black dots with a metallic silver sharpie so that I knew exactly where I needed to drill. To drill the holes, I used a 3/8" bit so the holes would be plenty big enough for my upholstery needle.
The next thing I did was sand down the plywood. I didn't want to worry about getting any splinters while working with it, so I sanded it down just enough so that it was smooth; not nice-wood-finish smooth, but smooth enough. After it was sanded, I dusted it off and coated it with two coats of polyurethane on both sides and all the edges. Utah has a really dry climate, but if we ever move somewhere that's humid, I want to be sure that the wood won't warp. So I made sure to coat it well and to get the poly down inside the holes also. I used this type of polyurethane in satin finish and I used just under a quart for this entire project.
The plywood was bowed pretty badly, so my husband suggested we attach long pieces of wood to the side where it curved down so that they would pull the plywood up and straighten it out.
We centered the four pieces of wood between the rows of holes. This will be the backside of the headboard so that they don't interfere with the look of the foam padding or the whole tufting process. To attach the wood pieces to the plywood, my husband drilled screws all the way through. Some of them went through and stuck out on the other side. We were going to sand them down, but we couldn't find my father-in-law's metal sander, so my husband took a hammer and broke the ends off. I went back and gave them a single coat of polyurethane for good measure.
To make the legs, we started out with a board of oak and cut it into two pieces that measured 32.5" long. Then my husband sent them through the planer to make sure they were even and to cut them down to 3/4" thick. After that was done, he then cut each board into 3" wide strips so that we had four wood beams that measured 32.5"x3"x3/4". Then we glued them together so that we had two legs that were 1.5" thick.
We used this wood glue on both sides being glued together so it would hold well. We spread the glue around with our fingers making sure to cover all the way to the ends. Then we put the pieces together and clamped them down to hold it in place.
Then my husband used another clamp to hold it on the edges so that the pieces were lined up straight.
And then he did it again on the long ends.
We left the clamps on for about an hour while the glue dried enough so that they would hold well. The glue seeped out onto the sides, so he took a scraper and scraped all of that off. After allowing the glue to dry overnight, I sanded down the legs, making sure to get along the edges too because they were pretty sharp and I wanted the legs to have a nice, smooth finish all around.
I used 80 grit sand paper first to smooth it down and then 150 grit to finish it off. I didn't go any finer than that because this wood isn't going to be used for flooring or anything that will get a lot of body contact. After they were sanded down, I cleaned them off and stained them with Minwax Early American. I wanted the legs of our headboard to match the legs on our Ikea hack nightstands. Just like with the nightstands, I only applied one coat because it was dark enough; any more than that and it would have been too dark.
After the stain dried, I applied two coats of the same polyurethane I used on the plywood. And that's where we're at now. We still need to attach the legs to the plywood and then get going on the upholstering and tufting. Hopefully we'll have it completed in the next week or so!