DIY Headboard from Old Barn Door: Day 1

For a long time now, Kerry and I have really wanted to build a headboard to match the era of our home. A bedroom built in 1890 needs a really awesome, old, weathered looking headboard, right? Originally we were going to just find some reclaimed wood and do something easy, but when we learned that the stable in our backyard needed to be taken down (before it fell down), we wanted to save some of the wood to keep the memory alive.

I had told the demo guys to save some of the larger pieces of wood for us, but instead, they found one of the original doors, which we thought had been long lost. This was a great surprise and obviously we wanted to use this to create a custom headboard that carried the history of our home. The question was, how? And really, we had no idea. So the headboard sat in our new garage for months — until this past weekend, when I finally decided to just start working on this … even though I might not have the whole thing planned.

Andy with 120 year old door

* this is the back of the barn door. the front will be revealed in future posts! *

The great thing about a 120 year old barn door is that it has 120 years of character. We’ve seen this thing up against the wall in our garage for the better part of a year now, but I don’t think we’ve ever looked at it closely. When we did, we found some amazing things. The door is held together by random pieces of wood. On one piece, we found that someone had written, “Farm” and “for Sale.” We think it was only part of the whole sign, unless they were selling the whole farm! The door also has this original old handle on it. There’s no way we can get rid of that — we’ll have to find a way to keep this thing. There is other writing on it, and just a ton of little details that make this door amazing.

120 year old has tons of character

To get started, we needed to get rid of all the random pieces of wood on the back. Over the course of many years, it looks like someone just randomly attached wood to the back of the door to support it. This isn’t going to work for a headboard, so eventually, I’m going to have to support the back with a frame. But today was all about getting that extra wood off. With that wood came nails. Lots of nails. Besides being rusty and huge, a lot of them were also coming through the front. Beyond that, some of the ones coming through the front were also bent, to really make sure they weren’t going anywhere. It took a while, but I was finally able to get all the wood, and all the extra nails, out of the door.

120 year old door needs lots of work

This marks the conclusion of day 1 of our headboard project. Next up is sanding and cleaning. This is going to be a long series of blog posts. I’m going to get real with you here: the project is not done. In fact, at this point, the only thing that we did was take all the wood and nails off the back. This isn’t going to be one of those things where over the next four days of posts you’ll see this project done. We’re going to post updates as they happen. Hopefully we’ll get it done in the next few weeks, and you’ll see that progress as it happens. We’ll be sure to tag everything “headboard” so you can follow along.

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