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Build a box-frame headboard with MDF

  • Difficulty:
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert

Forming a shallow recess, which creates a cozy feel conducive to a good night’s sleep, the headboard is made to look as if it is part of the wall. This effect is amplified by painting the back of the storage nooks the same color as the wall and by adding small halogen lamps to the inside of the frame. Perfect for those who like to read in bed!

This headboard, built from 5/8" MDF, measures 89" high by 13 3/8" deep and 120 1/2" wide. The pieces used to make the widest sections of the headboard therefore need to be extended. All the parts should be glued before being nailed or screwed together, as the case may be.


Tools and materials required


  • Table saw
  • Sliding mitre saw
  • Pneumatic finishing nailer
  • Driver drill
  • Punch (size according to make of recessed light fixture)
  • Clamp
  • Measuring tape
  • Square
  • Pencil


  • 4 sheets MDF, 5/8" x 48" x 96"
  • 18-gauge 1 1/2" nails
  • (for pneumatic nailer)
  • 3 wood strips, 3/4" x 3/4" x 96"
  • 1" No. 8 screws
  • 1 1/2" No. 6 screws
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Filler or quick-drying no-sanding spackling compound
  • Paint
  • Halogen recessed lighting fixtures
  • 3/4" squares

Before Assembly

Box-frame headboard elevation





















MDF is a versatile material that makes it easy to build strong, sturdy and affordable furniture. It is advisable to always glue the parts together with wood glue before fastening them with nails or screws. If the nails or screws do not provide enough strength, use clamps to hold the assembly together while the glue dries.
Screw fastening:
Always drill pilot holes using a countersink bit, with the pieces in their final assembled position. This
 will prevent the MDF from buckling or splitting under the torque of the screws. In one motion, the countersink bit bores a hole for the body of the screw as well as a cavity to conceal the screw head. You can use a driver-drill to do this, but it is advisable to finish tightening the screws with a manual screwdriver to prevent the driver-drill’s speed and force from damaging the MDF and weakening the screw’s grip.
Nail fastening:
For some projects it is best to use finishing nails. In such cases, using a pneumatic nailer will get the job done more quickly and easily, and the nails will hardly show.
Always wear a protective mask when cutting or sanding MDF as the dust can be irritating and is a potential heath hazard. Work outside if you can; if this is not possible, close any air vents and doors leading to other rooms so as to prevent the dust from spreading. Open a window while you work and cover all items in the room with dust sheets. Vacuum once you have finished cutting.


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Box-frame headboard


Build a box-frame headboard with MDF