Making a frame/panel for a head board

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Forum topic by ppg677 posted 05-31-2016 04:28 AM 720 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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194 posts in 1002 days

05-31-2016 04:28 AM

I’d like to make a bed sort of similar to pictured in that I want to do a headboard that has a curly maple panel framed with cherry. Is this considered a frame-and-panel? Assuming the cherry frame pieces are 3/4” thick, should the panel be something like 3/8” thick that goes into a routed out groove? I’m starting with 1” stock of curly maple…I guess planing that down to 3/8” will be quite extreme. I have no bandsaw.

Any other options or advice?

8 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1066 days

#1 posted 05-31-2016 04:11 PM


I would try to avoid reducing the thickness of the curly maple solid panel at the planer. You could get unexpected tear out, weaken the panel, and waste a lot of expensive material. Perhaps on the back side of the curly maple panel a tongue could be routed and the tongue would slip into the cherry groove.

In my view, a 3/8” groove may be a little too wide, since this only leaves 3/16” (assuming a centered groove) of cherry to support the curly maple panel. My concern is based on a belief that people in bed may rest against the back, for example when watching a little TV. This represents a force on the panel pushing against the 3/16” retaining lip of the cherry groove. Perhaps that is enough support, but then I would hate to have a failure after the bed is complete.

Since using a solid wood panel, floating the properly sized curly maple in cherry groove that is deep enough, should allow the curly maple panel to expand and contract without cracking. Gluing the panel in place could result in the curly panel cracking over time.

View bondogaposis's profile


4993 posts in 2498 days

#2 posted 05-31-2016 06:21 PM

Veneer on plywood for the panel.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pintodeluxe's profile


5757 posts in 2960 days

#3 posted 05-31-2016 06:22 PM

I would shoot for 1” finished thickness on the cherry lumber. The maple thickness would be 1”minus the desired front reveal. So if you use a typical 1/4” reveal, the finished thickness is 3/4”. Rabbet the back side of the panels until they fit into the grooves.

There are many ways to build it, but if the back of the panel is flush with the frame that would be ideal. Grooves are typically 1/4”, 5/16”, or sometimes 3/8” for this size stock.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jdh122's profile


1039 posts in 2964 days

#4 posted 05-31-2016 06:35 PM

I could be wrong, but it looks to me like the grain in the maple piece is running horizontally (the curl figure usually runs perpendicular to the grain), the same way as the cherry pieces. If I’m right, there’s no need for any kind of frame-and-panel construction at all, just edge glue the three pieces together then cut the tenons on the ends and the curve on the top. I’d glue the top tenons into their mortises and pin the bottom ones in order to allow for some wood movement.
If the maple and cherry are not flush with each other you can still easily do the glue up and leave a reveal – dowels or a biscuit joiner would help a lot with the alignment.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View pintodeluxe's profile


5757 posts in 2960 days

#5 posted 05-31-2016 06:56 PM

A frame and panel has other benefits too, like hiding any small gaps that may be present. A gap between the headboard post and maple panel seems pretty likely as things move over time. Frame and panel construction solves this potential issue.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Hammerthumb's profile


2893 posts in 2122 days

#6 posted 05-31-2016 08:14 PM

You might consider laminating your frame pieces to get 1-1/2” finished thickness. I think that would be more suitable for a headboard.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View rwe2156's profile


3092 posts in 1627 days

#7 posted 05-31-2016 08:51 PM

Minimum thickness for that panel is 1/2” IMO. Personally I would go with 3/4.

I’m with Bondo save that solid curly maple and go with CM veneer over ply.

The ply will be more stable anyway and with the long grain of a solid wood panel, not be prone to splitting.

If I were building it, the rails would be 1 1/4 thick to take the panel. Mortise into 2×2 or 3×3 leg posts.

If you want a bed to last, think in terms of timber framing.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4509 posts in 2456 days

#8 posted 06-01-2016 06:36 PM

If your curly maple is 3/4 thick do it as a raised panel but turn it around backwards so the raise side is against the wall.

Kind of like this but you panel will be thicker and the edge profile will be square or what ever you want.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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