Make Yourself Happier by Building Some Shit (like a headboard)

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Yeah, tools… yeah.

This post is about getting off your ass and building something.  There is a very real sense of accomplishment that comes from building something with your own two hands.  And it’s a type of satisfaction that is hard to get in any other way.

For centuries (actually millennia), if you wanted something you had to build it yourself.   We didn’t always have mass-produced everything.  You want a house/shelter?  You want a tool?  You want a chair?  Then you better build that shit.

Now you can buy literally almost anything you can think of if you have enough money.   Undoubtedly, we benefit an enormous amount from this service.  You can contribute to society, get paid a universal currency (OK maybe just planetary and only if you count money exchanges), then pay people for the things you want.  It’s a beautiful, useful, and practical system.

The issue is that most people over 15 never build anything again.  Think about it.  When was the last time you purchased raw materials and built something from the ground up?  In today’s society we lose the satisfaction of MAKING things.  It’s awesome that we have the convenience, but tragic that we lose out on that sense of satisfaction.

Luckily for you, it’s now easier than ever to get all the tools you need to build something.  So you should build something… soon.  It’s a great self-esteem booster, and you can get instructions for how to build almost anything online.

Seriously, if you haven’t made something recently you should call up a handy friend and ask if you can help them build something.  Or volunteer for habitat for humanity or something.

I try to make/fix things as much as possible.  Whenever I need something I try to imagine if I could successfully build it before I purchase it.  A car?  Probably better buy that.  But my fiancee recently decided we needed a headboard for our bedroom.  Can we build that?  Hell yeah.

How to make an upholstered headboard

Since we were going to be building this without a lot of fancy wood-working tools, we decided to make an upholstered headboard.  We went to Home Depot to get some things.  Here’s the list:

  • a 5′ x 8′ piece of 1/2″ thick plywood, cut (in the store) into a 3′ x 5′ piece for the headboard (queen sized) and some scrap pieces for another soon-to-be-determined project.
  • a container of #8 1″ wood screws
  • an 8′ 2×4, cut (in store) into two 4′ pieces
  • a 10′ 2×4, cut (in store) into two 53″ pieces (with some small scraps)
  • a staple gun
  • some staples for the gun
  • you’ll also need a drill (or at least a screwdriver and some brawn)

Next we went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some cotton batting, and some fabric to cover the headboard that matched our bedding.

First we framed the plywood with the 2×4 pieces and screwed through the plywood to secure the 2×4.

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We were working on the picnic tables behind our apartment.

IMG_6200 (1024x768)The 4′ pieces are vertical in this shot and are going to be the legs of the headboard.  The 53″ pieces are running horizontally to finish framing the plywood. [Pro-tip: a 2″ x 4″ actually measures 1.5″ x 3.5″.  Hence the 53″ pieces (5′ = 60″ and 60″ – (3.5″ x 2) = 53″]

That part was really easy.  Now on to securing the batting.

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About to secure the batting.

As you can see, we moved to the kitchen table to do these next steps.  We just laid the batting out flat on the table and folded it up and stapled.

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Batting secured… looking good.

We did the leg-less corners like we were wrapping Christmas presents. The legs were a little more difficult but we just cut away some of the batting and folded it as best we could.

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Close-up. You can see we just sort of folded it over and stapled.

The next step, and the most important aesthetically, is securing the fabric.  We started out just like the batting by laying out the fabric on the table and then placing the headboard on top of it.

Then we just started on one side and pulled the fabric snug and stapled it, working our way around the headboard.

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Make sure to get the fabric nice and tight. You don’t want the headboard to be saggy when you’re done.

Here are some close-ups of how we handled the corners.  We basically did them just like the batting.

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Leg-less corner. Just like wrapping a present… for your bed.

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Legged corner. This will be covered up by the mattress anyway, but you still want it to look as good as you can get it.

Just like that.  Done-zo.  Here’s the finished product.

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The pattern is a little flowery, but it matches our bedding really well.  As you can see in the pictures below, the headboard really makes the room look a lot more put together.

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Without the headboard

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With the headboard

There you have it.  Now I have a nice new headboard and every time I look at it I get the satisfaction of knowing that I built it with my own two hands.  Also, completing a project like this gives you confidence for all your future projects to come.

Start the new year off right and build something.  Your confidence and happiness levels will thank you for it.  Happy New Year!

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